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Saint-Petersburg is Russian a city located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. Founded by Tsar Peter the Great on 27 May, 1703, it was the capital of the Russian Empire for more than two hundred years (1713-1728, 1732-1918).
Saint Petersburg ceased being the capital in 1918 after the Russian Revolution of 1917. It is Russia's second largest city after Moscow with 4.6 million inhabitants. It is a major European cultural centre, and an important Russian port on the Baltic Sea.
Saint Petersburg is often described as the most Western city of Russia. Among cities of the world with over one million people, Saint Petersburg is the northernmost. The Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments constitute a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Russia's political and cultural centre for 200 years, the city is sometimes referred to in Russia as the northern capital.
During the first few years of its existence the city grew spontaneously around Trinity Square on the right bank of the Neva, near the Peter and Paul Fortress. However, Saint Petersburg soon started to develop according to a plan. The style of Petrine Baroque, developed by an architect Domenico Trezzini and other architects and exemplified by such buildings as the Menshikov Palace, Kunstkamera, Peter and Paul Cathedral, Twelve Collegia, became prominent in the city architecture of the early 18th century.
However, in 1725 Peter died. His near-lifelong autocratic push for modernisation of Russia had met with considerable opposition from the old-fashioned Russian nobility - resulting in several attempts on his life and a treason case involving his own son. Thus, in 1728, Peter the II moved his seat back to Moscow. But four years later, in 1732, under Empress Anna of Russia, Saint Petersburg again became the capital of the Russian Empire and remained the seat of the government for 186 years.
The style of Baroque dominated the city architecture during the first sixty years, culminating in the Elizabethan Baroque, represented most notably by Bartolomeo Rastrelli with such buildings as the Winter Palace. In the 1760s the Baroque architecture was succeeded by the neoclassical architecture.
The Commission of Stone Buildings of Moscow and Saint Petersburg established in 1762 ruled that no structure in the city be higher than the Winter Palace and prohibited spacing between buildings. During the reign of Catherine the Great in the 1760s-1780s the banks of the Neva were lined with granite embankments. However, it wasn't until 1850 that it was allowed to open the first permanent bridge across the Neva, Blagoveshchensky Bridge. Before that, only pontoon bridges were allowed.
By the 1840s the neoclassical architecture had given place to various romanticist styles, which were dominant until the 1890s, represented by such architects as Andrei Stackenschneider (Mariinsky Palace, Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace, Nicholas Palace, New Michael Palace) and Konstantin Thon (Moskovsky Rail Terminal). The Church of the Savior on Blood designed in the Russian revival style commemorated the place where Alexander II of Russia was assassinated in 1881.
With the emancipation of the serfs undertaken by Alexander II in 1861 and the industrial revolution the influx of former peasants into the capital increased greatly. Poor boroughs spontaneously emerged on the outskirts of the city. Saint Petersburg surpassed Moscow in population and industrial growth and grew into one of the largest industrial hubs and cities in Europe.
The Revolution of 1905 began in Saint Petersburg and spread rapidly into the provinces. With the start of World War I, the name Saint Petersburg was perceived to be too German, so in 1914 the city was renamed Petrograd. In 1917 the February Revolution, which put an end to the Russian monarchy, and the October Revolution, which ultimately brought Vladimir Lenin to power, broke out in Petrograd.
The city's proximity to the border and anti-Soviet armies forced the Bolsheviks under Lenin to transfer the capital to Moscow on March 12, 1918.
In 1924, after Lenin death, the city was renamed to Leningrad. it beared that name until 1991, when the historical name St. Petersburg was returned to the city.
During World War II, Leningrad was besieged by Nazi Germany and co-belligerent Finland. The siege lasted 872 days from September 1941 to January 1944. The Siege of Leningrad was one of the longest, most destructive, and most lethal sieges of major cities in modern history. It isolated the city from most supplies except those provided through the Road of Life across Lake Ladoga, and more than a million civilians died, mainly from starvation. Many others were eventually evacuated or escaped by themselves, so the city became largely depopulated. For the heroic resistance of the city and tenacity of the survivors of the Siege, in 1945 Leningrad became the first city in the Soviet Union awarded the title Hero City.
St. Petersburg has always been known for its high-quality cultural life. Among the city's more than fifty theaters is the world-famous Mariinsky Theater (also known as the Kirov Theater in the USSR), home to the Mariinsky Ballet company and opera.
We at Shorex.RU will be more than pleased to get you familiar with our beloved city, known as Northern or Russian Venice. Feel free to contact us, and discover St. Petersburg.
Shorex.RU wants to thank our client John Deere, who provided us outstanding shots of St. Petersburg, made during our tour.