St. Petersbourg

 - Neva view from Peter and Paul fortress Being the capital of Russian Empire for 200 years, St. Petersburg has connected Russia and Europe during its history. Created by Peter the Great in 1 703 to be his "window on Europe", St Petersburg combines its fascinating Russian heritage with a distinctly European outlook. Considered the cultural heart of modern day Russia, St. Petersburg is rapidly regaining its reputation as one of the Great Cities of Europe.

Today the interests of world politics, business and culture meet on the banks of the Neva river. Saint Petersburg is often described as the most Western city of Russia. The Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments constitute a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

European and world cultures are reflected in its more than 4000 ensembles and monuments, in 250 museums, 50 theatres, 80 art galleries.

According to the UNESCO data St. Petersburg occupies the 8th place in the world among most attractive destinations for the tourists. St. Petersburg is the largest city in the North-West of Russia, and one of the largest cities in the world, the crossroad of air routes, rail roads, water-ways and highways. There are river and sea ports international airport, 14 external radial roads 5 European railway stations.

Few cities can offer so many stunning attractions and intriguing moods as St. Petersburg - City of the Tsars.

Bridges and canals in St.Petersburg

 - Open bridgesSt Petersburg has always been closely connected to water and and water transportation. As a result of this relationship with its water environment, St Petersburg was often called "The Venice of the North"Many of the grand homes faced the canals allowing for water access by visitors and staff particularly before theconstruction of the many bridges, about 600 currently, were constructed.

Nowadays Saint-Petersburg boasts over 300 different bridges varying in size, construction, material and decorative compositions that span the Neva River with dozens of channels, rivers and rivulets. There are narrow pedestrian Bank and Lions chain bridges as well as unique Medieval and Modern style gigantic Bolsheokhtinsky Bridge. Here you will find not only English, Italian and Egyptian bridges, but also bridges decorated with towers, lions, horses (Anichkov Bridge) and even magic animals - griffins. There are 'coloured' bridges - the Red, the Blue, the Green and the Yellow, as well as there are Post, Theatre, Bank and even Kissing Bridge. Although each of these miracles of engineering has its own character, its own legends, and its own life that adds a page to the history of St-Petersburg, the city's undeniable claims to fame are the gorgeous drawbridges. Throughout the day and evening car traffic circulates over all bridges while every night during the navigation period (April - November) St. Petersburg bridges across the Neva are drawn according to a certain timetable of bridge opening for the ships to pass up and down the city's waterways.

St. Petersburg's Parks and Gardens

 - PeterhoffSt. Petersburg is the greenest of Russia's major cities. The statistics are impressive: Over 200 parks and gardens, plus over a thousand tree-lined streets and more than 700 leafy squares; and more than 2,000 hectares of greenery in total - or more than 56 square meters for each of the city's more than 4.5 million inhabitants.

One of the most famous park in St.Petersburg is the summer garden

It was founded in 1704 by order of Peter the Great, who was personally involved in planning it, and is laid out according to strict geometrical principles. The Summer Garden is home to marble statues acquired from Europe especially for Russia's new capital, and also to rare flowers and plants, as well as fountains. It was a traditional location for courtly life outside the palace, and balls were held here by the nobility, who also enjoyed simply taking the air in the Garden.

Islands of St.Petersburg

 - Ships on NevaSt. Petersburg's status as "the Venice of the North" is somewhat boosted by the fact that the city, like its Italian counterpart, is almost entirely built on a series of islands across the delta of the Neva River. The current number, as counted in 1975, is 42, although at the end of the 19th century it stood at 101. Many of them are, of course, only nominally islands, separated one from another by narrow canals or rivers and connected by the city's 342 bridges to form two seemingly continuous strips of land along the banks of the Neva. Some, however, are clearly separate from the rest of St. Petersburg, with a distinctive character or unique historic function that makes them of particular interest to visitors exploring the city.

Vasilevskiy Ostrov, the largest of St. Petersburg's islands, was envisaged by Peter the Great as the center of his new capital, and was the site of several major building projects during his reign. However, its exposed position and the difficulty of providing effective connections to the mainland meant that development on the island slowed under his successors. Nonetheless, the historic district of Vasilevskiy is one of the most beautiful in the city, and the island is home to several of St. Petersburg's greatest institutions, including the prestigious St. Petersburg State University, the Stock Exchange.

Religious sights of St.Petersburg

 - St.Isaak's cathedral 3For a city only 300 years old, it is extraordinary that St. Petersburg should have such a wealth and diversity of religious buildings. From famous monuments like St. Isaac's Cathedral to smaller local churches with faithful congregations, from the ornate charms of Petrine Baroque to the pomp and magnificence of Russian Revival, St. Petersburg's churches are extraordinarily varied and often spectacularly beautiful. And it is not just Russian Orthodox churches that decorate the Northern Capital, St. Petersburg's foreign communities have added a number of equally fascinating places of worship to the city, including a number of major churches in the heart of the city, and the St. Petersburg's truly original Central Mosque and Buddhist Datsan.

St Peter and Paul's Cathedral is also renowned as the burial place of the Tsars. All the emperors and empresses from Peter the Great to Alexander III were buried here, with a couple of inconsequential exceptions.

St. Isaac's Cathedral was originally the city's main church and the largest cathedral in Russia. It was built between 1818 and 1858, by the French-born architect Auguste Montferrand, to be one of the most impressive landmarks of the Russian Imperial capital. One hundred and eighty years later the gilded dome of St. Isaac's still dominates the skyline of St. Petersburg.

Church of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. This church is known to local people as the Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood - or even just the Church on the Blood - as it marks the spot where Alexander II was fatally wounded in an assassination attempt on March 1, 1881. Designed by Alfred Parland in the style of 16th and 17th-century Russian churches, the Church of the Resurrection provides a stark (some would say jarring) contrast to its surroundings of Baroque, Classical and Modernist architecture.

Squares and avenues of St.Petersburg

 - Palace Square 1

St.Petersburg is a town of sumptuous palaces beautiful squares and broad avenues

Palace square and Winter Palace

It's hard to imagine a more arresting architectural ensemble than that of Palace Square. The square is bounded by the incredible Winter Palace, the stunning General Staff Building and te incomparable Admiralty with the Alexander Column standing proudly in the center. One of the many large creations of French architect Auguste Montferrand that spot the St Petersburg skyline, the Alexander Column has captivated crowds since its construction was completed in1838. Towering over Palace Square at 47.5 meters in height, the column commemorates Russia's victory over Napoleon's army and is named after Tsar Alexander I

The sheer vastness of the square and the beauty of the buildings is breath-taking. It's difficult to do justice to the sumptuous Winter Palace with a description. The exquisite green and white baroque building by Bartolomeo Rastrelli really has to be seen to be fully appreciated. The palace was commissioned by Elizabeth I, the daughter of Peter the Great.

The pulsating central artery of St Petersburg, Nevsky Prospekt could rival any major street in the world for length, beauty or activity. You can see everything here: the most stunning architecture, opulent palaces, world-famous museums and grand opera houses; the most fashionable shops and the latest fashions; sparkling five-star hotels and small bed and breakfasts; all manner of restaurants, cafes and nightclubs; all sorts of people of all ages, walks of life and countries. The street runs from the St Petersburg's center of religion, the Alexander Nevsky Monastery, to the symbol of Russian power, the Admiralty, and along the way covers everything in between. The 4.5km expanse of Nevsky Prospekt runs over four different islands, crossing multiple canals and rivers by way of ornate bridges. Whether under the golden glow of the White Nights or covered with a sparkling sheen of white snow, Nevsky Prospekt is truly one of world's great promenades.

Monuments and Memorials

 - Bronze HorsemanLike any historical capital, St. Petersburg has a wealth of statues and monuments commemorating its history and its greatest citizens. As well as numerous and very different statues of the city's founder, Peter the Great, St. Petersburg's public spaces are decorated with the figures of Russia's literary greats, military heroes, and political dignitaries, and a score of monuments to the city's triumphs and tragedies, especially to the hardships and losses suffered by the city during the Siege of Leningrad.

The Bronze Horseman, an impressive monument to the founder of St Petersburg, Peter the Great,stands on Senatskaia Ploschad' (Square), facing the Neva River and surrounded by the Admiralty, St Isaac's Cathedral and the buildings of the former Senate and Synod - the civil and religious governing bodies of pre-revolutionary Russia.

Museums in St.Petersburg

 - Winter PalaceSt. Petersburg is often described by locals as the "Gorod Muzei" - the museum city - and not without reason. Peter the Great himself founded the city's first museum, the extraordinary Kunstkammer, for the edification his subjects, and the city now boasts over 100 museums, ranging from the vast Hermitage, one of the world's most famous galleries, to small apartment museums honoring some of Russia's greatest writers.

Hermitage museum is St. Petersburg's most popular visitor attraction, and one of the world's largest and most prestigious museums, it is a must-see for all first-time travellers to the city. With over 3 million items in its collection, it also definitely rewards repeat visits, and new-comers can only hope to get a brief taste of the riches on offer here, from Impressionist masterpieces to fascinating Oriental treasures.

The Peter and Paul Fortress. This is where it all began – the spot where Peter the Great started building a fortress on May 27th 1703, thereby founding the city that would become one of the most beautiful in Europe. In building the Peter and Paul Fortress Peter was attempting to secure for Russia the Neva River delta which at the time was a part of Sweden. The dominant and most spectacular building in the fortress is St Peter and Paul's Cathedral.



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