Saint Petersburg is one of the largest cities in Russia. The Russian capital Moscow is the only city that is even bigger. When we talk about cities with history, Saint Petersburg is lord and master. In its past, the city changed its leader (or ruler) and name several times. An interesting city to visit and read about.
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Saint Petersburg covers 1,400 km² along the Neva River. With a population of 4,750,000, it is the most northerly metropolis. The city is located on the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea.
The climate of Saint Petersburg can best be described as a mild maritime climate. Due to its location on the Baltic Sea, temperatures remain moderate in winter with an average temperature of -7 °C. In summer it is usually very pleasant in St. Petersburg and the average temperature is 18 °C.
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Saint Petersburg takes its name from the patron saint Saint Peter. This was the favorite saint of none other than Tsar Peter the Great who ascended the throne of Russia as a ten-year-old boy. The city was founded on May 27, 1703 by Peter the Great and was chosen for its strategic location on the Baltic Sea. Officially this part was still owned by Sweden at the time, but it was taken during a war. From 1713 to 1728 and from 1732 to 1918, not Moscow, but Saint Petersburg was the capital of Russia.
When Tsar Peter the Great died in 1725, Saint Petersburg had 40,000 inhabitants. After his death, Saint Petersburg was mainly ruled by women and beautiful, mostly Baroque, buildings were built. A special woman in power was Catherine III, who murdered her husband Peter III to rule in St. Petersburg. After her cruel act, she brought cultural life in the city to a great height.
When Catherine the Great also died in 1796, a new period began. Her son Paul I introduced all kinds of conservative laws that made Russia a true bureaucratic state. Over the years, the peasants in Russia who were serfs became more and more dissatisfied and under Nicholas I there was a great revolt. Alexander II eventually abolished the slave service, but the high land prices led the farmers to factory towns.
The last Tsar Nicholas II was deposed during the First World War in which Russia lost many men. During this war the name Saint Petersburg was changed to the less German sounding Petrograd.
When Lenin took office with his communism, the Soviet Union was created. Petrograd became Leningrad. Stalin succeeded Lenin, and under his leadership ten million Russians died in the famine of 1931-1932. In '41 the city was occupied by Germany for nearly 2.5 years, but Stalin's rule continued until his death in 1953. In 1991, the communist Soviet Union finally came to an end and Leningrad became Saint Petersburg again.
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Palace Square is one of the most central and opulent public squares in Saint Petersburg. The square is bordered by spectacular buildings and sights, such as the Winter Palace. Over the years, many important historical events have taken place on the square, such as Bloody Sunday some 100 years ago. It was followed ten years later by the Russian October Revolution of 1917. The square is dominated by the Alexander Column and the adjacent Palace Bridge that connects the square with Nevsky Prospekt.
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The Hermitage is Saint Petersburg's most famous landmark. It is also one of the largest and oldest museums in the world. Catherine the Great founded the museum in 1764. The Hermitage's collection consists of more than three million pieces. The buildings in which the museum is located are also worth seeing. The Winter Palace in particular is a feast for the eyes.
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Another particularly beautiful structure is the Saint Petersburg Mosque. This prayer house dates from 1913 and was the largest mosque in Europe when it opened. The 40 meter high dome has a beautiful sea blue color and the minarets are even 48 meters high.
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One of the most famous buildings of Rastrelli, a notable 18th century Italian architect, is Smolny Cathedral which is centered within a large monastery. The cathedral was built between 1748 and 1757 and has recently been restored. Many beautiful details are in excellent condition, such as the detailed Baroque architecture, the domes and the high towers. Smolny Cathedral is very reminiscent of a traditional Russian monastery and visitors can climb one of the 63-meter-high bell towers and enjoy the view.
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The Church of the Savior of the Spilled Blood is also often referred to as the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ and is named after Tsar Alexander II of Russia, who was assassinated at this site in 1881. The church was built between 1883 and 1907. The The cathedral exudes traditional Russian architecture and is finished with a series of brightly colored onion domes, often compared to the Moscow cathedral.
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The Gosudarstvennyi Russkii Muzei (National Russian Museum) on the Inzhenernaia Ulitsa is located in the center of Saint Petersburg and contains the largest collection of Russian paintings in the world. The museum was founded at the end of the 19th century and has more than 400,000 works, covering a period of just over 1,000 years.
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Saint Petersburg has a rich cultural life with ballet, opera, classical music and other performing arts. A visit to a theater or something like that cannot be missing from an evening in St. Petersburg. All music styles are represented in the nightlife; from jazz to techno and from pop to rock.
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To fully appreciate the architecture of some of the most impressive and historic tourist attractions in St. Petersburg, take a cruise on the Neva River. Make sure to bring a camera to photograph the many sights, especially along the English Quay in the area known as Central Saint Petersburg.
Click the menu button at the top left of the screen for more informationLast updated March 2021
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