St Petersburg Russia

stptrsbrgFor such a beautiful city it hard to believe that St Petersburg, in Russia, has seen so much conflict. It is a city which inspires passions: cultural, social and political. For those reasons it is a city that has experienced more than its fair share of turmoil and far too few years of peace.

Saint Petersburg enjoys the status of being a Federal City of Russia, giving it a fair amount of autonomy and power. It is located on the Neva River near its mouth at the head of the Gulf of Finland which is situated on the Baltic Sea. It is one of those places whose origin is known as St Petersburg was founded by Tsar Peter the Great on May 27, 1703. Except for a short period of four years, it was Russia’s Imperial capital up until 1918.

As the Imperial capital, the city was indulged with magnificent buildings and all the trappings you would expect of a city that was home to a powerful Royal family and the centre of a magnificent empire. Unfortunately, its status also guaranteed that it would endure political upheaval, and it was in St Petersburg that the beginnings of the Communist Revolution occurred. With the fall of the Royal family, the city was made to pay for the sins of the Emperors.

In 1914 the city’s name was changed to Petrograd, and in 1918 Moscow was declared the country’s capital, and the name changed once more to Leningrad, before changing back to St Petersburg with the fall of the communist regime in 1991.

Fortunately, much of the city’s historic architecture has remained intact. Although there is some modern high rise, the city’s architecture consists mainly of Baroque and neoclassical buildings, with the oldest building being a wooden house that was built for Peter the Great in 1703. It is located on the shore of the Neva River near Trinity Square.

Other magnificent buildings include the Peter and Paul Fortress which contains a number of important buildings. Built on Zayachy Island the site includes the cathedral which boasts an impressive 123 metre (404 ft) bell-tower. Here the bodies of most of the tsars are interred, plus the remains of Nicholas II and his family, who were killed during the Revolution.

The most impressive building, or buildings, in the city is The Hermitage Museum which includes the sumptuous Winter Palace, former official resident of the tsars. It is without doubt one of the world’s largest and most important museums and deserves a decent visit.

With a major river, canals, islands and impressive bridges St Petersburg is a true water city, which becomes an ice and snow city in winter. There are over 8,000 historic buildings within the city and a marvellous place to visit.

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