About St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg is relatively young city although its history is rich and exciting. This history started on 27th of May 1703 on the small island in the Neva delta where Russian Tsar Peter the Great founded a small fortress to be the symbol of the first important victory in the Northern War. Peter the Great named the Fortress and the city that later grew up around it after his patron Saint – Peter the Apostle – Sankt Peter Burgh.

St.Petersburg Petropavlovskaya Krepost Castle

Peter I was inspired by the architecture of European cities, and dreamed of building a New Venice or New Amsterdam on the banks of the Neva River and on the Baltic Sea. He planned to build a network of canals that people would use to get from place to place on small boats.

In 1712 St. Petersburg became the capital of Russia; from that time and untill 1917 the Royal family and all the nobility lived in their palaces along rivers and canals.

Old St. Petersburg painting

In the XVIII and XIX centuries, the city was growing and developing as economic, industrial and cultural center of the Russian Empire. By the late XVIIIth century the population of the city had reached 200.000, at the beginning of the XX century  it was already over 2 million; today St. Petersburg is the third most populous city in Europe next to London and Paris.

The history of St. Petersburg is unique because of its name which was changed several times. St. Petersburg was the one given by Peter the Great to the fortress and then to the capital. The name was changed in 1914 to Petrograd – a more Russian way of saying “the city of Peter”, because during the tensions of the WWI the original name sounded too German for most people. In 1924, after the death of Vladimir Lenin, leader of the Bolshevik revolution 1917, the city was renamed again and became Leningrad. After the collapse of the USSR in 1991, the city`s inhabitants voted in a referendum to restore the name given by Peter the Great – St. Petersburg.

St.Petersburg is also known as the site of the three Russian revolutions.

Lenin speach

The first one was the revolution of 1905-1907. Started with a peaceful demonstration of industrial workers, it was brutally suppressed by the imperial police and army. The first parliament in the Russian history was set up as a result of this first revolution.

The First World War seriously affected the fate of St. Petersburg. The Anti-German feelings of the population convinced the government to rename the city Petrograd. In August 1914 Russia’s failures in the war resulted in problems with food supplies and high inflation, which later served as the main reasons for the February revolution of 1917. This revolution brought about the end of the monarchy in Russia.

What is usually called “the Russian Revolution” abroad was actually the third revolution in this period which started in October 1917 and led to the establishment of Soviet power over the whole country. This revolution was immediately followed by the civil war which lasted till 1923.

The city went through another difficult period during the Second World War when Leningrad (as it was then called) was besieged by Nazi Germany. The siege lasted almost 900 days and was the longest and most destructive siege in the modern history. Out of the 3 million people that lived in the city before the war 1.5 million died during the siege. Only 3% of those died to artillery shelling and bombardment, the vast majority  – 97% died of starvation.

Today St. Petersburg is the largest Northern European city with a population of 5 million people. 

St. Petersburg is a very romantic city especially during the period of White Nights with the famous moving bridges, known to locals as Draw bridges. This is quite a unique show which is a must-see for anyone visiting the city.

rising bridges

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