History of St. Petersburg

, updated on April 23, 2013
History of St.Petersburg

St. Petersburg is surprisingly young (a bit over 300 y.o) – one would hardly imagine that it used to be a marshy wasteland surrounded with the cold Baltic Sea only 3 centuries ago. Only strong will and efforts of great men were able to create one of the most beautiful cities in the world within such a short time.

St. Petersburg was founded by the Russian emperor Peter I to connect Russia and Europe – the land won back from Swedes was a perfect position to secure strategic access to the sea.

The city (originally named Sankt-Piter-Burch) was founded as the Peter and Paul’s fortress on May 27th, 1703 at the Hare Island right in the mouth of the Neva River. It was officially declared the capital of the Russian Empire by Peter 1st decree in 1713.

St. Petersburg – Russia’s first city built of granite and marble, whereas all other Russian cities were built of wood. The city connected Russia and Europe in architecture, as well – for construction of the new capital the most famous European architects were invited from Italy, France, Germany and Switzerland. Therefore many of you will feel at home visiting St. Petersburg – a glorious fusion of Russian style and space with European art.

European style of St. Petersburg is complemented with incredible magnitude and picturesque colors of buildings. Almost every Russian Emperor’s epoch featured new architectural complexes, villas, residential and public buildings created by the most talented overseas and Russian architects. No wonder, that the city is also known as “Northern Palmira” – an intersection of Western and Eastern culture.

The city was renamed 3 times: at the outbreak of World War I in 1914 it got a patriotic name Petrograd, following the death of Vladimir Lenin in 1924 it became Leningrad, after the end of the Soviet era the city was given back its historic name of St. Petersburg.

St. Petersburg remained the capital of Russia for over 200 years, which helped its tremendously rapid growth – economic, cultural and social. However, the city has also been through really tough times – 3 revolutions and an unprecedented 900-day siege during World War II with citizens dying of hunger and cold among architectural masterpieces being put to ruins with bombing. Reconstruction works took decades, but the pearl of Baltics was given its unmatched beauty and splendor back – with a fresh touch of modern culture and art, that proved to confirm its status of the cultural capital of Russia.

St. Petersburg is one of the biggest European cities with its historical centre being part of UNESCO World Heritage List. Every year the city hosts a growing number of international events, celebrities and visitors attracted by business potential, cultural and night life of the northern capital of Russia.

Translation by Svetlana Serebryakova

About Polina Polyakova

Hi! I love my home town St.Petersburg and i want to share my passion with you. Lets see if my vast experience in tourism can be of use ;)

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