nds:Sankt Pedersborg
Alternate meaning: Saint Petersburg, Florida

The Nevsky Prospect, St. Petersburg's main boulevard

Saint Petersburg (Санкт-Петербург, Sankt Peterburg in Russian; formerly Петроград, Petrograd from August 18 (O.S) = August 31 (N.S), 1914 until January 26, 1924, then Ленинград, Leningrad until September 6, 1991) is a city located in Northwestern Russia on the Baltic Sea, and the former capital of the country, founded by tsar Peter the Great. It is a major cultural center of Europe. With over 4.7 million inhabitants (2002), it is today Russia's second largest city and a major port.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Landmarks and tourist attractions
3 Economy
4 Transportation
5 External link


Tsar Peter the Great founded the city on May 16 (O.S) = May 27 (N.S), 1703 after reconquering the Ingrian land from Sweden. He named it after his patron saint, the apostle St. Peter. The original name of Sankt Piterburh was actually Dutch; Peter had lived and studied in that country for some time. The Swedish fortress of Nyen and later Nöteborg had formerly occupied the site, in the marshlands where the river Neva drains into the Gulf of Finland. Serfs provided most of the labor for the project, including draining the marshes and raising the buildings. According to one estimate, 30,000 died.

St. Petersburg was founded to become the new capital of Russia. By virtue of its position on an arm of the Baltic Sea, it was a "window on the West," allowing trade and cultural exchange. Russia would be a major British trading partner for years to come. It was also a base for Peter's navy, protected by the island fortress of Kronstadt.

One of St. Petersburg's many canals

By the late 19th century, the city was the nation's cultural center, with composers (such as the Big Five), artists, and Socialistss. A Socialist group was responsible for the assassination of Alexander II in 1881. The Russian Revolution of 1905 began here and spread rapidly into the provinces. During World War I, the name Sankt Peterburg was seen to be too German and the city was renamed Petrograd on the initiative of Tsar Nicholas II.

1917 saw the beginnings of the Russian Revolution. The first step (in February) was the removal of the Tsarist government and the institution of a multi-party system. The new government did not last, and civil war broke out in October with the Bolsheviks in charge of the government. The city's proximity to anti-Bolshevik armies forced revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin to flee to the former capital at Moscow on March 5, 1918. The move may have been intended as temporary (it was certainly portrayed as such), but Moscow has remained the capital ever since. Upon Lenin's death in 1924, the city was renamed Leningrad in his honour.

Whereas Alexander II's emancipation of the serfs had caused a mass influx of people and the erection of tenements on the periphery, the government's removal to Moscow caused a mass emigration. The benefits of capital status had now shifted to Moscow. Petrograd's population in 1920 was a third of what it had been in 1915 (see table below).

During World War II, it was surrounded and besieged by the German army from September 8, 1941 until January 27, 1944, a total of twenty-nine months (see Siege of Leningrad). A supply and evacuation road running through the frontline was established on January 18, 1943, but it was open to German airstrikes. Some 800,000 of the city's three million inhabitants are estimated to have perished. (According to some historians, Soviet ruler Joseph Stalin delayed the breaking of the siege and stymied the evacuation of the city because of a desire to curb its free-thinking tendencies and intellectual sophistication.)

The original name - Saint Petersburg - was restored on September 6, 1991. However, the name of the Oblast (administrative province) of which the city is the capital remains Leningrad Oblast.

Historical population of St. Petersburg
YearNumber of inhabitants

Landmarks and tourist attractions

Saint Petersburg contains several famous landmarks. The Hermitage Museum, housed in the former Winter Palace, displays some of the most valuable paintings in the world. Other noteworthy landmarks include the Cathedral of Saint Isaac, and the Alexander Column and Tikhvin Cemetery at the Alexander Nevsky Lavra (monastery), where many members of the Russian royal family received their education.

Architectural landmarks of 18th and 19th centuries include the St.Peter and St.Paul Fortress, Alexander Nevsky Monastery (Alexander Nevsky Lavra), Smolny Institute, Palace Square with the Winter Palace, Nevsky Prospekt, the stock exchange building on Vasilyevskiy Island, Dekabristov Square with the monument of Peter I (erected 1782), Rossi Street and the Ostrovskiy Square, Square of Arts. Between 1950-1980 there were erected new residential areas, administrative and public buildings. The memorial complex at Piskarevsky Cemetery was created in 1960. The historical center of St. Petersburg is included in the UNESCO list of world heritage sites.

The majestic appearance of St. Petersburg is achieved through a variety of architectural details including long, straight boulevards, vast spaces, gardens and parks, figured fences, monumental and decorative sculptures. The Neva River and numerous canals are well integrated with the city spaces all these waterways in striking relief throughout the city with their various embankments and bridges further adding to the unique atmosphere of the city.

During the city's original construction, the mouth of the Neva was routed into a series of canals, which still criscross the central portion of the city, giving it the name of Venice of the North.

St. Petersburg's position near the Arctic Circle causes twilight to last all night in May and June. This celebrated phenomenon is known as the "white nights."

Many historic buidlings in the city have been restored in preparation for the three hundredth anniversary of its founding (May 27, 2003).


The city is a major center of machine building, including power equipment, machinery, shipyards, instrument manufacture, ferrous and nonferrous metallurgy (production of aluminum alloys), chemicals and printing.


The city is a major transportation hub. It is the centre of the local road and railway system, and has a seaport (in the Gulf of Finland of Baltic Sea) and river ports (in the delta of Neva). It is the terminus of the Volgo-Baltic waterway which links the Baltic with the Black Sea. The city is served by Pulkovo Airport, which carries both domestic and international flights. The city's Metro (underground intracity railway) system began operation in 1955.

External link