Last Updated: 16th Feb 2011
St Petersburg is the second largest city in Russia, (next to the capital of Moscow). This impressive Imperial city was founded only in 1703 when Peter the Great decided to make it his capital, banning the construction of stone buildings across his Empire (other than in the city) so that all the country’s stonemasons would come to St Petersburg and help build the city.
It stood as the capital for almost 300 and became known as Petrograd (1914-1924) and then later Leningrad (1924-1991) after the leader of the Russian Revolution. Today it has retained its Imperial title and is home to roughly 4.7 million Russians. The main river running through the city is the Neva River but the many canals running and over 300 bridges have given the city the title of the ‘Venice of the North’.
The city is widely respected as the cultural center of Russia and the most happening and cosmopolitan city in the country.
As the city was home to the Czars of Russia for almost 300 years there are many palaces in the city, the least (and largest) of which is the Winter Palace, most famously home to the largest museum in the world – The Hermitage. The city is also home to the Yusupov Palace where Rasputin was killed, the Michael Palace (now housing the Russian Museum).
The Church of the Savior on Spilt Blood marks the spot of Alexander II’s assassination while the Peter and Paul Cathedral contains the sepulchers of Peter the Great and other Russian emperors).
Easily the biggest event in the city is the ‘White Nights’ festival lasting for ten days in June and taking its name from the twilight that lasts all night in May, June and July.
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During the summer there is a huge line up of various ballet concerts available. Make sure you go and see one – where better to see Swan Lake than in St Petersburg?
Take a cruise on the canals in St Petersburg. It is a great way to see the city – and maybe even have some champanski as well!