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Saint Petersburg ( ) is a city and a federal subject (a federal city) of Russiamarker located on the Neva Rivermarker at the head of the Gulf of Finlandmarker on the Baltic Seamarker. The city's other names were Petrograd ( , 1914–1924) and Leningrad ( , 1924–1991). It is often called just Petersburg ( ) and is informally known as Piter ( ).

Founded by Tsar Peter I of Russia on 27 May, 1703, it was the capital of the Russian Empiremarker for more than two hundred years (1713–1728, 1732–1918). Saint Petersburg ceased being the capital in 1918 after the Russian Revolution of 1917. It is Russia's second largest city after Moscowmarker with 4.6 million inhabitants, and over 6 million people live in its vicinity. Saint Petersburg is a major European cultural centre, and an important Russian port on the Baltic Sea.

Saint Petersburg is often described as the most Western city of Russia. Among cities of the world with over one million people, Saint Petersburg is the northernmost. The Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monumentsmarker constitute a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Russia's political and cultural centre for 200 years, the city is sometimes referred to in Russia as the northern capital. A large number of foreign consulates, international corporations, banks and other businesses are located in Saint Petersburg.


On 1 May, 1703 (Julian calendar), during the Great Northern War, Peter the Great captured the Swedishmarker fortress of Nyenskansmarker on the Nevamarker river in Ingria. A few weeks later, on 27 May, 1703 (May 16, Old Style), lower on the river, on Zayachy Islandmarker, three miles (5 km) inland from the gulfmarker, he laid down the Peter and Paul Fortressmarker, which became the first brick and stone building of the new city. He named the city after his patron saint, Saint Peter, the apostle. The original name was meant to sound like Dutch due to Peter's obsession with the Dutch culture. The city was built by conscripted serfs from all over Russia and also by Swedish prisoners of war under the supervision of Alexander Menshikov and later became the centre of Saint Petersburg Governorate. Peter moved the capital from Moscow to Saint Petersburg in 1712, before the Treaty of Nystad of 1721 ended the war.

Map of Saint Petersburg, 1903.

During the first few years of its existence the city grew spontaneously around Trinity Square on the right bank of the Neva, near the Peter and Paul Fortress. However, Saint Petersburg soon started to develop according to a plan. By 1716 Domenico Trezzini had elaborated a project whereby the city centre would be located on Vasilievsky Islandmarker and shaped by a rectangular grid of canals. The project was not completed, but is still evident in the layout of the streets. In 1716 Jean-Baptiste Alexandre Le Blond was appointed chief architect of Saint Petersburg by Peter the Great. The style of Petrine Baroque, developed by Trezzini and other architects and exemplified by such buildings as the Menshikov Palacemarker, Kunstkameramarker, Peter and Paul Cathedralmarker, Twelve Collegiamarker, became prominent in the city architecture of the early 18th century. In 1724 the Academy of Sciencesmarker, University and Academic Gymnasium were established in Saint Petersburg by Peter the Great.

However, in 1725 Peter died. His near-lifelong autocratic push for modernisation of Russia had met with considerable opposition from the old-fashioned Russian nobility — resulting in several attempts on his life and a treason case involving his own son. Thus, in 1728, Peter II of Russia moved his seat back to Moscow. But four years later, in 1732, under Empress Anna of Russia, Saint Petersburg again became the capital of the Russian Empiremarker and remained the seat of the government for 186 years.

In 1736-1737 the city suffered from catastrophic fires. In order to rebuild the damaged boroughs, in 1737 a new plan was commissioned by a committee under Burkhard Christoph von Munnich. The city was divided into five boroughs, and the city centre was moved to the Admiralty borough, situated on the east bank between the Neva and Fontanka. It developed along three radial streets, which meet at the Admiraltymarker and are now known as Nevsky Prospektmarker (which is now perceived as the main street of the city), Gorokhovaya Streetmarker and Voznesensky Prospektmarker. The style of Baroque dominated the city architecture during the first sixty years, culminating in the Elizabethan Baroque, represented most notably by Bartolomeo Rastrelli with such buildings as the Winter Palacemarker. In the 1760s the Baroque architecture was succeeded by the neoclassical architecture.

The Commission of Stone Buildings of Moscowmarker and Saint Petersburg established in 1762 ruled that no structure in the city be higher than the Winter Palace and prohibited spacing between buildings. During the reign of Catherine the Great in the 1760s-1780s the banks of the Neva were lined with granite embankments. However, it wasn't until 1850 that it was allowed to open the first permanent bridge across the Neva, Blagoveshchensky Bridgemarker. Before that, only pontoon bridges were allowed. Obvodny Canal (dug in 1769-1833) became the southern limit of the city. Some of the most important neoclassical architects in Saint Petersburg (including those working within the Empire style) were Jean-Baptiste Vallin de la Mothe (Imperial Academy of Artsmarker, Small Hermitagemarker, Gostiny Dvor, New Holland Archmarker, Catholic Church of St. Catherinemarker), Antonio Rinaldi (Marble Palacemarker), Yury Felten (Old Hermitage, Chesme Churchmarker), Giacomo Quarenghi (Academy of Sciences, Hermitage Theatremarker, Yusupov Palacemarker), Andrey Voronikhin (Mining Institutemarker, Kazan Cathedralmarker), Andreyan Zakharov (Admiralty buildingmarker), Jean-François Thomas de Thomon (Spit of Vasilievsky Islandmarker), Carlo Rossi (Yelagin Palacemarker, Mikhailovsky Palacemarker, Alexandrine Theatremarker, Senate and Synod Buildings, General Staff Buildingmarker, design of many streets and squares), Vasily Stasov (Moscow Triumphal Gatemarker, Trinity Cathedralmarker), Auguste de Montferrand (Saint Isaac's Cathedralmarker, Alexander Columnmarker). The victory over Napoleonic France in the Patriotic War of 1812 was commemorated with many monuments, including Alexander Column by Montferrand, erected in 1834, and Narva Triumphal Gatemarker.

In 1825 the suppressed Decembrist revolt against Nicholas I of Russia took place on the Senate Squaremarker in the city, a day after he assumed the throne.

By the 1840s the neoclassical architecture had given place to various romanticist styles, which were dominant until the 1890s, represented by such architects as Andrei Stackenschneider (Mariinsky Palacemarker, Beloselsky-Belozersky Palacemarker, Nicholas Palacemarker, New Michael Palace) and Konstantin Thon (Moskovsky Rail Terminal). The Church of the Savior on Bloodmarker designed in the Russian revival style commemorated the place where Alexander II of Russia was assassinated in 1881.

With the emancipation of the serfs undertaken by Alexander II in 1861 and the industrial revolution the influx of former peasants into the capital increased greatly. Poor boroughs spontaneously emerged on the outskirts of the city. Saint Petersburg surpassed Moscow in population and industrial growth and grew into one of the largest industrial hubs and cities in Europe.

The Revolution of 1905 began in Saint Petersburg and spread rapidly into the provinces. With the start of World War I, the name Saint Petersburg was perceived to be too German, so in 1914 the city was renamed Petrograd. In 1917 the February Revolution, which put an end to the Russian monarchy, and the October Revolution, which ultimately brought Vladimir Lenin to power, broke out in Petrograd. The city's proximity to the border and anti-Soviet armies forced the Bolsheviks under Lenin to transfer the capital to Moscowmarker on March 12, 1918. In 1919 during the ensuing Russian Civil War Nikolay Yudenich advancing from Estoniamarker was about to capture the city from the Bolsheviks, but Leon Trotsky ultimately managed to mobilise the population and make him retreat. Many people fled the city in 1917-1920 or were repressed in the Red Terror, so its population decreased dramatically. On January 26, 1924, three days after Lenin's death, Petrograd was renamed Leningrad. For decades Leningrad was glorified by the Soviet propaganda as "the cradle of the revolution" and "the city of three revolutions", many spots related to Lenin and the revolutions, such as the cruiser Auroramarker, were carefully preserved. Many streets and other toponyms were renamed accordingly.

In the 1920s-1930s the poor outskirts were reconstructed into regularly planned boroughs. The constructivist architecture flourished around that time. The Soviets nationalised housing and forced many residents to share communal apartments (kommunalka). With 68% living in shared apartments in the 1930s, Leningrad was the city with the largest number of kommunalkas. In 1935 a new general plan was outlined, whereby the city should expand to the south and its centre should move there. The constructivism was rejected in favor of the pompous Stalinist architecture. Stalin ordered the construction of the new city hall on Moskovsky Prospectmarker thus making it the new main street of Leningrad during the Soviet rule.

Since December 1931 Leningrad has been administratively separate from Leningrad Oblastmarker. At that time it included Leningrad Suburban District, some parts of which were transferred back to Leningrad Oblast in 1936 and turned into Vsevolozhsky District, Krasnoselsky District, Pargolovsky District and Slutsky District (renamed Pavlovsky District in 1944).

On December 1, 1934, Sergey Kirov, popular communist leader of Leningrad, was assassinated, which was used to start the Great Purge. The sizeable minorities of Germans, Poles, Finns, Estonians and Latvians were almost completely expelled from Leningrad by the Soviet government during the 1930s.

During World War II, Leningrad was besieged by Nazi Germany and co-belligerent Finlandmarker. The siege lasted 872 days from September 1941 to January 1944. The Siege of Leningrad was one of the longest, most destructive, and most lethal sieges of major cities in modern history. It isolated the city from most supplies except those provided through the Road of Lifemarker across Lake Ladogamarker, and more than a million civilians died, mainly from starvation. Many others were eventually evacuated or escaped by themselves, so the city became largely depopulated. For the heroic resistance of the city and tenacity of the survivors of the Siege, in 1945 Leningrad became the first city in the Soviet Unionmarker awarded the title Hero City. In October 1946 some former Finnish territories along the northern coast of the Gulf of Finlandmarker captured in the Winter War and Continuation War were transferred from Leningrad Oblast to Leningrad and divided into Sestroretsky District and Kurortny District, including the town of Terijokimarker (renamed Zelenogorsk in 1948).

Leningrad and many of its suburbs were rebuilt over the post-war decades, partially according to the pre-war plans. The 1948 general plan of Leningrad featured radial urban development in the north as well as in the south. The Leningrad Metro, underground rapid transit system which was designed before the war in the 1930s, was opened in 1955 with its first seven stations decorated with marble and bronze. Meanwhile, in 1949-1951 a large number of prominent Leningrad members of the Communist Party and their families were charged with treason and intention to create an anti-Soviet organization out of their local party cell. Many were imprisoned or executed in the Leningrad Affair fabricated by the central Soviet leadership.

In 1953 Pavlovsky District of Leningrad Oblast was abolished, and parts of its territory including Pavlovsk merged with Leningrad. In 1954 the settlements Levashovo, Pargolovo and Pesochnymarker merged with Leningrad.

After the death of Stalin the perceived ornamental excesses of the Stalinist architecture were abandoned. In the 1960s-1980s, as many new residential boroughs were built on the outskirts with few series of functionalist apartment blocks identical to each other, many families moved there from kommunalkas in the city centre in order to live in separate apartments.

Uritsk was re-named Ligovo and merged with Leningrad in 1963, Lomonosovmarker merged in 1978.

On June 12, 1991, in a referendum held on the same day as the first Russian presidential election, 54% of voters chose to restore the name "Saint Petersburg" (the change officially took effect on September 6, 1991). Many other Soviet-era toponyms in the city were also renamed soon afterwards. In the same election Anatoly Sobchak became the first democratically elected mayor of the city.

By the end of 1991 the deteriorating planned economy of the collapsing Soviet Union had put the city on the verge of starvation. For the first time since World War II food rationing was introduced, and the city received humanitarian food aid from abroad. The city somewhat recovered with the market reforms in Russia. In 1995-2004 a northern section of the Metro's Kirovsko-Vyborgskaya Line was cut off by underground flooding, which was a major obstacle to the city development.

In 1996, Vladimir Yakovlev was elected as head of the Saint Petersburg City Administration. The title of the city head was changed in advance from "mayor" to "governor". In 2003, Yakovlev resigned a year before his second term expired. Valentina Matviyenko was elected governor. In 2006 she was reapproved as governor by the city legislature.

The residential building had intensified again, real estate prices inflated greatly, and this situation causes many new problems for the historical part of the city.

In spite of the fact that the central part of the city is watched by UNESCOmarker, the safety of its historical and architectural environment is in danger. There are still about 8000 architectural monuments in Saint Petersburg, but since 2005 the destruction of older buildings in the historical centre has continued. A number of new building projects are underway, including the Gazprom skyscraper in Okhtamarker.


The area of Saint Petersburg city proper is . The area of the federal subject is , which contains the Saint Petersburg proper (consisting of 81 okrugs), nine suburban towns (Kolpinomarker, Krasnoye Selomarker, Kronstadtmarker, Lomonosovmarker, Pavlovskmarker, Peterhofmarker, Pushkinmarker, Sestroretskmarker and Zelenogorskmarker) and 21 municipal settlements.

Saint Petersburg is situated on the middle taiga lowlands along the shores of the Neva Bay of the Gulf of Finlandmarker, and islands of the river delta. The largest are Vasilyevsky islandmarker (besides the artificial island between Obvodny canal and Fontanka, and Kotlinmarker in the Neva Bay), Petrogradsky, Dekabristov and Krestovskymarker. The latter together with Yelaginmarker and Kamenny islandmarker are covered mostly by parks. The Karelian Isthmusmarker, North of the city, is a popular resort area. In the south Saint Petersburg crosses the Baltic-Ladoga Klint and meets the Izhora Plateau.

The elevation of Saint Petersburg ranges from the sea level to its highest point of at the Orekhovaya Hill in the Duderhof Heights in the south. Part of the city's territory west of Liteyny Prospektmarker is no higher than above sea level, and has suffered from numerous floods. Floods in Saint Petersburg are triggered by a long wave in the Baltic Sea, caused by meteorological conditions, winds and shallowness of the Neva Bay. The four most disastrous floods occurred in 1824 ( above sea-level, during which over 300 buildings were destroyed), 1924 , 1777 , 1955 and 1975 . To prevent floods, the Saint Petersburg Dammarker has been under construction since 1979.

Since the 18th century the terrain in the city has been raised artificially, at some places by more than , making mergers of several islands, and changing the hydrology of the city. Besides the Neva and its distributaries, other important rivers of the federal subject of Saint Petersburg are Sestra, Okhta and Izhoramarker. The largest lake is Sestroretsky Razliv in the north, followed by Lakhtinsky Razlivmarker, Suzdal Lakes and other smaller lakes.

Saint Petersburg's position on the latitude of ca. 60° N causes variation in day length across seasons, ranging from 5:53 to 18:50. Twilight may last all night in early summer, from mid-May to mid-July, the celebrated phenomenon known as the white nights.


Snow falling on the morning of May 14 2008 at Srednyaya Rogatka (district in the south of St. Petersburg)
Saint Petersburg experiences a humid continental climate of the cool summer subtype (Köppen: Dfb), due to the distinct moderating influence of the Baltic Seamarker cyclons. With warm, humid and short summers and long, cold winters.

The average daily temperature in July is ; summer maximum is about , winter minimum is about . The record low temperature is , recorded in 1883. The average annual temperature is . The River Neva within the city limits usually freezes up in November-December, break-up occurs in April. From December to March there are 123 days average with snow cover, which reaches the average of by February. The frost-free period in the city lasts on average for about 135 days. The city has a climate slightly warmer than its suburbs. Weather conditions are quite variable all year round.

Average annual precipitation varies across the city, averaging per year and reaching maximum in late summer. Soil moisture is almost always high because of lower evapotranspiration due to the cool climate. Air humidity is 78% on average, while overcast is 165 days a year on average.


Population history of Saint Petersburg

Saint Petersburg is the second largest city in Russia. The 2002 census recorded a population of the federal subject of 4,661,219, or 3.21% of the total population of Russia. The 2002 census recorded twenty-two ethnic groups of more than two thousand persons each. The ethnic composition was: Russian 84.72%, Ukrainian 1.87%, Belarusians 1.17%, Jewish 0.78%, Tatar 0.76%, Armenian 0.41%, Azeri 0.36%, Georgian 0.22%, Chuvash 0.13%, Polish 0.10%, and many other smaller ethnic groups, while 7.89% of the inhabitants declined to state their ethnicity.

The 20th century saw hectic ups and downs in population. From 2.4 million in 1916 it had dropped to less than 740,000 by 1920 during the Russian Revolution of 1917 and Russian Civil War. The sizeable minorities of Germans, Poles, Finns, Estonians and Latvians were almost completely expelled from Leningrad by the Soviet government during the 1930s. From 1941 to the end of 1943, population dropped from 3 million to less than 700,000, as people died in battles, starved to death during the Siege of Leningrad, or were evacuated. After the siege, some of the evacuees returned, but most influx was due to migration from other parts of the Soviet Union. The city absorbed about 3 million people in the 1950s and grew to over 5 million in the 1980s. From 1991 to 2006 the city's population decreased to the current 4.6 million, while the suburban population increased due to privatization of land and massive move to suburbs. The birth rate remains lower than the death rate; people over 65 constitute more than twenty percent of the population; and the median age is about 40 years.

People in urban Saint Petersburg live mostly in apartments. Between 1918 and the 1990s, the Soviets nationalised housing and forced residents to share communal apartments (kommunalka). With 68% living in shared flats in the 1930s, Leningrad was the city in the USSR with the largest number of kommunalkas. Resettling residents of kommunalkas is now on the way out, albeit shared apartments are still not uncommon. As new boroughs were built on the outskirts in the 1950s-1980s, over half a million low income families eventually received free apartments, and about an additional hundred thousand condos were purchased. While economic and social activity is concentrated in the historic city centre, the richest part of Saint Petersburg, most people live in commuter areas. For the first half of 2007, the birth rate was 9.1 per 1000.


Saint Petersburg is a federal subject of Russia. The political life of Saint Petersburg is regulated by the city charter adopted by the city legislature in 1998. The superior executive body is the Saint Petersburg City Administration, led by the governor (mayor before 1996). Saint Petersburg has a single-chamber legislature, the Saint Petersburg Legislative Assembly.

According to the federal law passed in 2004, heads of federal subjects, including the governor of Saint Petersburg, are nominated by the President of Russia and approved by local legislatures. If the legislature disapproves the nominee, it is dissolved. The current governor, Valentina Matviyenko, was approved according to the new system in December 2006. She is currently the only woman governor in the whole of Russia.

Saint Petersburg city is currently divided into eighteen districts. Saint Petersburg is also the administrative centre of Leningrad Oblastmarker, and of the Northwestern Federal District. The Constitutional Court of Russia moved to Saint Petersburg from Moscowmarker in May 2008.

Saint Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast, being two different federal subjects, share a number of local departments of federal executive agencies and courts, such as court of arbitration, police, FSB, postal service, drug enforcement administration, penitentiary service, federal registration service, and other federal services.


Saint Petersburg is a major trade gateway, financial and industrial centre of Russia specialising in oil and gas trade, shipbuilding yards, aerospace industry, radio and electronics, software and computers; machine building, heavy machinery and transport, including tanks and other military equipment, mining, instrument manufacture, ferrous and nonferrous metallurgy (production of aluminium alloys), chemicals, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, publishing and printing, food and catering, wholesale and retail, textile and apparel industries, and many other businesses. It was also home to Lessner, one of Russia's two pioneering automobile manufacturers (along with Russo-Baltic), Lessner; founded by machine tool and boiler maker G. A. Lessner in 1904, with designs by Boris Loutsky, it survived until 1910.

10% of the world's power turbines are made there at the LMZ, which built over two thousand turbines for power plants across the world. Major local industries are Admiralty Shipyard, Baltic Shipyard, LOMO, Kirov Plantmarker, Elektrosila, Izhorsky Zavod; also registered in Saint Petersburg are Sovkomflot, Petersburg Fuel Company and SIBUR among other major Russian and international companies.

The Saint Petersburg docks at dawn.

Saint Petersburg has three large cargo seaports: Bolshoi Port Saint Petersburg, Kronstadtmarker, and Lomonosovmarker. International cruise liners have been served at the passenger port at Morskoy Vokzal on the south-west of Vasilevsky Islandmarker. In 2008 the first two berths were opened at the New Passenger Port on the west of the island. The new port is part of the city's "Marine Facade" development project and is due to have seven berths in operation by 2010.

A complex system of riverports on both banks of the Neva rivermarker are interconnected with the system of seaports, thus making Saint Petersburg the main link between the Baltic seamarker and the rest of Russia through the Volga-Baltic Waterwaymarker.

The Saint Petersburg Mintmarker (Monetny Dvor), founded in 1724, is one of the largest mints in the world, it mints Russian coins, medals and badges. Saint Petersburg is also home to the oldest and largest Russian foundry, Monumentskulptura, which made thousands of sculptures and statues that are now gracing public parks of Saint Petersburg, as well as many other cities. Monuments and bronze statues of the Tsars, as well as other important historic figures and dignitaries, and other world famous monuments, such as the sculptures by Peter Clodt von Jürgensburg, Paolo Troubetzkoy, Pavel Antokolsky, and others, were made there.

In 2007 Toyota opened a Camry plant after investing 5 billion dollars in Shushary, one of the southern suburbs of Saint Petersburg. General Motors, Hyundai and Nissan have signed deals with the Russian government to build their automotive plants in Saint Petersburg too. Automotive and auto-parts industry is on the rise there during the last decade. Saint Petersburg is also known as the "beer capital" of Russia, due to the supply and quality of local water, contributing over 30% of the domestic production of beer with its five large-scale breweries including Europe's second largest brewery Baltika, Vena (both operated by BBH), Heineken Brewery, Stepan Razin (both by Heineken) and Tinkoff brewery (SUN-InBev). Saint Petersburg has the second largest construction industry in Russia, including commercial, housing and road construction.

In 2006 Saint Petersburg's city budget was 179,9 billion rubles, and is planned to double by 2012. The federal subject's gross regional product as of 2005 was 667,905.4 million Russian rubles, ranked 4th in Russia, after Moscowmarker, Tyumen Oblast, and Moscow Oblastmarker, or 145,503.3 rubles per capita, ranked 12th among Russia's federal subjects, contributed mostly by wholesale and retail trade and repair services (24.7%) as well as processing industry (20.9%) and transportation and telecommunications (15.1%).


Russia historically had a high level of crime that increased significantly after the October revolution. Perestroika-time turmoils saw additional increase of the crime level.

Saint Petersburg experiences significant levels of street crime and bribery. In addition, in recent years there has been a notable increase in racially motivated violence, especially towards tourists and foreign students. One of the well known white supremacist groups Belaya Energia (White Energy, originally comes from White Power), has reportedly been one of the main gangs involved in murdering foreign university students.

At the end of the 1980s – beginning of the 1990s, Leningrad became home to a number of organised criminal groups as Tambov Gang, Malyshev Gang, Kazan Gang and ethnic criminal groups, engaged in a racket, extortion, paying off local government, and violent clashes with each other.

In 2008, a car bomb killed three people (including a four-year old toddler), and injured one.

After the assassinations of City Property Committee Chairman and vice-Governor Mikhail Manevich(1997), State Duma deputy Galina Starovoytova (1998), acting City Legislature Speaker Viktor Novosyolov (1999) and a number of prominent businesspeople, Saint Petersburg was dubbed Capital of Crime in the Russian press. There were a number of movies filmed in Saint Petersburg about the life of crime; Banditskiy Peterburg: Advocat, Brother (1997) reinforcing its image as the Crime Capital of Russia.

One of the oldest and most infamous remand facilities in Saint Petersburg, Kresty prisonmarker is located near downtown.

However, crime rate in St. Petersburg have declined since the end of the 1990s; the aforementioned criminal gangs have mostly dispersed. Even the Kresty prison is no longer in use, as more modern penal institutions are being built farther from the city centre. With levels of organised crime significantly lowered, the main concern now (as in most major cities) is street crime; however, the number of capital offenses in St. Petersburg is unusually low for Russia.


Saint Petersburg is a major transport hub. The first Russian railway was built here, in 1837. Today, the city is the final destination of a web of intercity and suburban railways, served by five different railway terminals (Baltiyskymarker, Finlyandskymarker, Ladozhskymarker, Moskovsky, and Vitebskymarker), as well as dozens of non-terminal railway stations within the federal subject. Saint Petersburg has international railway connections to Helsinkimarker, Finlandmarker, Berlinmarker, Germanymarker, and all former republics of the USSR. The Helsinki railway was built in 1870, , commutes three times a day, in a journey lasting about five and a half hours. The Moscow-Saint Petersburg Railway opened in 1851, ; the commute to Moscowmarker now requires about four and a half to nine hours. Saint Petersburg is also served by Pulkovo International Airportmarker, and by three smaller commercial and cargo airports in the suburbs. There is a regular, 24/7, rapid-bus transit connection between Pulkovo airport and the city centre.

The city is also served by the passenger and cargo seaports in the Neva Bay of the Gulf of Finlandmarker, Baltic Seamarker, the river port higher up the Neva, and tens of smaller passenger stations on both banks of the Neva river. It is a terminus of the Volga-Balticmarker and White Sea-Balticmarker waterways. In 2004 the first high bridge that doesn't need to be drawn, a long Big Obukhovsky Bridgemarker, was opened. Meteor hydrofoils link the city centre to the coastal towns of Kronstadtmarker, Lomonosovmarker, Peterhofmarker, Sestroretskmarker and Zelenogorskmarker from May through October.

Pulkovo International Airport.

Saint Petersburg has an extensive city-funded network of public transport (buses, trams, trolleybuses) and several hundred routes served by marshrutkas. Trams in Saint Petersburg used to be the main transport; in the 1980s, Leningrad had the largest tramway network in the world, but many tramway rail tracks were dismantled in the 2000s. Buses carry up to 3 million passengers daily, serving over 250 urban and a number of suburban bus routes. Saint Petersburg Metro underground rapid transit system was opened in 1955; it now has five lines with 63 stations, connecting all five railway terminals, and carrying 3.4 million passengers daily. Metro stations are decorated in marble and bronze.

Traffic jams are common in the city, because of high daily traffic volumes between the commuter boroughs and the city centre, intercity traffic, and at times excessive snow in winter. Five segments of the Saint Petersburg Ring Road were opened between 2002 and 2006, and full ring is planned to open in 2010.

Saint Petersburg is part of the important transport corridor linking Scandinavia to Russia and Eastern Europe. The city is a node of the international European routes E18 towards Helsinkimarker, E20 towards Tallinnmarker, E95 towards Pskovmarker, Kievmarker and Odessamarker and E105 towards Petrozavodskmarker, Murmanskmarker and Kirkenesmarker (north) and towards Moscowmarker and Kharkivmarker (south).

City scape

As of now, Saint Petersburg has no skyscrapers and a relatively low skyline. Current regulations forbid construction of high buildings in the city centre. The 310 metre tall Saint Petersburg TV Towermarker is the tallest structure in the city, while the 122.5 m Peter and Paul Cathedralmarker is by far the highest building. However, there is a controversial project endorsed by the city authorities and known as the Ohkta Centremarker to build a 396 m supertall skyscraper. In 2008 the World Monuments Fund included the Saint Petersburg historic skyline within the watch list of 100 most endangered sites due to the expected construction, which threatens to alter it drastically.

Unlike in Moscow, in Saint Petersburg the historic architecture of the city centre, mostly consisting of Baroque and neoclassical buildings of the 18th and 19th centuries, has been largely preserved, although a number of buildings were demolished after the Bolsheviks' seizure of power, during the Siege of Leningrad and in recent years. The oldest of the remaining building is a wooden house built for Peter I in 1703 on the shore of the Neva near Trinity Square. Since 1991 the Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monumentsmarker in Saint Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast have been listed by UNESCOmarker as a World Heritage Site.

The ensemble of Peter and Paul Fortressmarker with the Peter and Paul Cathedralmarker takes dominant position on Zayachy Island along the right bank of the River Neva. Each noon a cannon fires a blank shot from the fortress. The Saint Petersburg Mosquemarker, the largest mosque in Europe when opened in 1913, is situated on the right bank nearby. The spit of Vasilievsky Islandmarker, which splits the river into two largest armlets, the Bolshaya Nevamarker and Malaya Nevamarker, is connected to the northern bank (Petrogradsky Islandmarker) via the Exchange Bridgemarker and occupied by the Old Saint Petersburg Stock Exchange and Rostral Columnsmarker. The southern coast of Vasilievsky Island along the Bolshaya Neva features some of the city's oldest buildings, dating from the 18th century, including the Kunstkameramarker, Twelve Collegiamarker, Menshikov Palacemarker and Imperial Academy of Artsmarker. It hosts one of two campuses of Saint Petersburg State University.

On the southern, left bank of the Neva, connected to the spit of Vasilievsky Island via the Palace Bridgemarker, lie the Admiralty Buildingmarker, the vast Hermitage Museummarker complex stretching along the Palace Embankmentmarker, which includes the baroque Winter Palacemarker, former official residence of Russian emperors, as well as the neoclassical Marble Palacemarker. The Winter Palace faces Palace Squaremarker, the city's main square with the Alexander Columnmarker.

Nevsky Prospektmarker, also situated on the left bank of the Neva, is the main avenue in the city. It starts at the Admiralty and runs eastwards next to Palace Square. Nevsky Prospekt crosses the Moika (Green Bridgemarker), Griboyedov Canalmarker (Kazansky Bridgemarker), Garden Streetmarker, the Fontanka (Anichkov Bridgemarker), meets Liteyny Prospektmarker and proceeds to Uprising Squaremarker near the Moskovsky railway station, where it meets Ligovsky Prospektmarker and turns to the Alexander Nevsky Lavramarker. The Passagemarker, Catholic Church of St. Catherinemarker, Book Housemarker (former Singer Manufacturing Company Building in the Art Nouveau style), Grand Hotel Europemarker, Lutheran Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Gostiny Dvor, Russian National Librarymarker, Alexandrine Theatremarker behind Mikeshin's statue of Catherine the Great, Kazan Cathedralmarker, Stroganov Palacemarker, Anichkov Palacemarker and Beloselsky-Belozersky Palacemarker are all situated along that avenue.

The Alexander Nevsky Lavra, intended to house the relics of St. Alexander Nevsky, is an important centre of Christian education in Russia. It also contains the Tikhvin Cemeterymarker with graves of many notable Petersburgers.

On the territory between the Neva and Nevsky Prospekt the Church of the Savior on Bloodmarker, Mikhailovsky Palace housing the Russian Museummarker, Field of Marsmarker, St. Michael's Castlemarker, Summer Gardenmarker, Tauride Palacemarker, Smolny Institutemarker and Smolny Conventmarker are located.

Many notable landmarks are situated to the west and south of the Admiralty Building, including the Trinity Cathedralmarker, Mariinsky Palacemarker, Hotel Astoriamarker, famous Mariinsky Theatremarker, New Holland Islandmarker, Saint Isaac's Cathedralmarker, the largest in the city, and Decembrists Squaremarker with the Bronze Horsemanmarker, 18th century equestrian monument to Peter the Great, which is considered among the city's most recognisable symbols.

Other symbols of Saint Petersburg include the weather vane in the shape of a small ship on top of the Admiralty's golden spire and the golden angel on top of the Peter and Paul Cathedral. The Palace Bridge drawn at night is yet another symbol of the city. Every night during the navigation period from April to November, 22 bridges across the Neva and main canals are drawn to let ships pass in and out of the Baltic Sea according to a schedule. It wasn't until 2004 that the first high bridge across the Neva, which doesn't need to be drawn, Big Obukhovsky Bridgemarker, was opened. There are hundreds of smaller bridges in Saint Petersburg spanning across numerous canals and distributaries of the Neva, some of the most important of which are the Moika, Fontanka, Griboyedov Canalmarker, Obvodny Canal, Karpovka and Smolenka. Due to the intricate web of canals, Saint Petersburg is often called Venice of the North. The rivers and canals in the city centre are lined with granite embankments. The embankments and bridges are separated from rivers and canals by granite or cast iron parapets.

Southern suburbs of the city feature former imperial residences, including Peterhofmarker, with majestic fountain cascades and parks, Tsarskoe Selomarker, with the baroque Catherine Palacemarker and the neoclassical Alexander Palacemarker, and Pavlovskmarker, which contains a domed palace of Emperor Paul and one of the largest English-style parks in Europe. Some other residences situated nearby and making part of the world heritage site, including a castle and park in Gatchinamarker, actually belong to Leningrad Oblastmarker rather than Saint Petersburg. Another notable suburb is Kronstadtmarker with its 19th century fortifications and naval monuments, occupying the Kotlin Islandmarker in the Gulf of Finland.

From XX century end in a city active building and reorganisation of old historical city districts is conducted.The authorities are compelled to transfer control of private residences in city centre to private lessors.Also sealing building and a superstructure of buildings is spent by penthouses.

Some of these structures, such as the Saint Petersburg Commodity and Stock Exchange" have been recognised as town-planning errors.


Interior of the Hermitage Museum.

Saint Petersburg is home to more than two hundred museums, many of them hosted in historic buildings. The largest of the museums is the Hermitage Museummarker, featuring interiors of the former imperial residence and a vast collection of art. The Russian Museummarker is a large museum devoted to the Russian fine art specifically. The apartments of some famous Petersburgers, including Alexander Pushkin, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Feodor Chaliapin, Alexander Blok, Vladimir Nabokov, Anna Akhmatova, Mikhail Zoshchenko, Joseph Brodsky, as well as some palace and park ensembles of the southern suburbs and notable architectural monuments such as St. Isaac's Cathedral, have also been turned into public museums. The Kunstkameramarker, with its collection established in 1714 by Peter the Great to collect curiosities from all over the world, is sometimes considered the first museum in Russia, which has evolved into the present-day Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnographymarker. The Russian Ethnography Museum, which has been split from the Russian Museum, is devoted to the cultures of the people of Russia, the former Soviet Union and Russian Empire. Other notable museums include the Central Naval Museummarker hosted in the building of the former stock exchangemarker and Zoological Museummarker, the Railway Museummarker, Museum of the Siege of Leningrad, Saint Petersburg Museum of History in the Peter and Paul Fortressmarker and Artillery Museummarker, which in fact includes not only artillery items, but also a huge collection of other military equipment, uniform and decorations.


The Grand Cascade.

Saint Petersburg is home to numerous parks and gardens, some of the most famous of which are situated in the southern suburbs, including one of the largest English gardens of Europe in Pavlovskmarker. Sosnovka is the largest park within the limits of the city proper, occupying 240 ha. The Summer Gardenmarker is the oldest one, dating back to the early 18th century and designed in the regular style. It is situated on the southern bank of the Neva at the head of the Fontanka and is famous for its cast iron railing and marble sculptures. Among other notable parks are the Maritime Victory Park on Krestovsky Islandmarker and the Moscow Victory Park in the south, both commemorating the victory over Nazi Germany in the Second World War, as well as the Central Park of Culture and Leisure occupying Yelagin Islandmarker and the Tauride Garden around the Tauride Palacemarker. The most common trees grown in the parks are the English oak, Norway maple, green ash, silver birch, Siberian larch, blue spruce, crack willow, limes and poplars. Important dendrological collections dating back to the 19th century are hosted by the Saint Petersburg Botanical Gardenmarker and the Park of the Forestry Academy.



Among the city's more than fifty theaters is the world-famous Mariinsky Theatermarker (also known as the Kirov Theater in the USSR ), home to the Mariinsky Ballet company and opera. Leading ballet dancers, such as Vaslav Nijinsky, Anna Pavlova, Rudolph Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Galina Ulanova and Natalia Makarova, were principal stars of the Mariinsky ballet.

Dmitri Shostakovich was born and brought up in Saint Petersburg, and dedicated his Seventh Symphony to the city, calling it the "Leningrad Symphony." He wrote the symphony while in Leningrad during the German siege. The 7th symphony was premiered in 1942; its performance in the besieged Leningrad at the Bolshoy Philharmonic Hall under the baton of conductor Karl Eliasberg was heard over the radio and lifted the spirits of the survivors. In 1992 a reunion performance of the 7th Symphony by the (then) 14 survivors was played in the same hall as they done half a century ago. The Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra remained one of the best known symphony orchestras in the world under the leadership of conductors Yevgeny Mravinsky and Yuri Temirkanov.

The Imperial Choral Capella was founded and modeled after the royal courts of other European capitals.

Saint Petersburg has been home to the newest movements in popular music in the country. The first jazz band in the Soviet Union was founded here by Leonid Utyosov in the 1920s, under the patronage of Isaak Dunayevsky. The first jazz club in the Soviet Union was founded here in the 1950s, and later was named jazz club Kvadrat. In 1956 the popular ensemble Druzhba was founded by Aleksandr Bronevitsky and Edita Piekha, becoming the first popular band in the 1950s USSR. In the 1960s student rock-groups Argonavty, Kochevniki and others pioneered a series of unofficial and underground rock concerts and festivals. In 1972 Boris Grebenshchikov founded the band Aquarium, that later grew to huge popularity. Since then "Peter's rock" music style was formed.

In the 1970s many bands came out from "underground" and eventually founded the Leningrad rock clubmarker which has been providing stage to such bands as Piknik, DDT, Kino, headed by the legendary Viktor Tsoi, Igry, Mify, Zemlyane, Alisa and many other popular groups. The first Russian-style happening show Pop mekhanika, mixing over 300 people and animals on stage, was directed by the multi-talented Sergey Kuryokhin in the 1980s.

Today's Saint Petersburg boasts many notable musicians of various genres, from popular Leningrad's Sergei Shnurov and Tequilajazzz, to rock veterans Yuri Shevchuk, Vyacheslav Butusov and Mikhail Boyarsky.

The White Nights Festival in Saint Petersburg is famous for spectacular fireworks and massive show celebrating the end of school year.


Over 250 international and Russian movies were filmed in Saint Petersburg. Well over a thousand feature films about tsars, revolution, people and stories set in Saint Petersburg were produced worldwide, but were not filmed in the city. First film studio were founded in Saint Petersburg in the 1900s, and since the 1920s Lenfilm has been the largest film studio based in Saint Petersburg. The first foreign feature movie filmed entirely in Saint Petersburg was the 1997 production of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, starring Sophie Marceau and Sean Bean, and made by international team of British, American, French and Russian filmmakers.

The cult comedy Irony of Fate (also Ирония судьбы, или С лёгким паром!) is set in Saint Petersburg and pokes fun at Soviet city planning. The 1985 film White Nights received considerable Western attention for having captured genuine Leningrad street scenes at a time when filming in the Soviet Unionmarker by Western production companies was generally unheard of. Other movies include GoldenEye (1995), Midnight in Saint Petersburg (1996), and Brother (1997). Onegin (1999) is based on the Pushkin poem and showcases many tourist attractions. In addition, the Russian romantic comedy, Питер FM, showcases the cityscape significantly, almost as if it was a main character in the film.

Several international film festivals are held annually, such as the Festival of Festivals, St. Petersburg, as well as the Message to Man International Documentary Film Festival, since its inauguration in 1988 during the White Nights.


Saint Petersburg has a longstanding and world famous tradition in literature. Dostoyevsky called it “The most abstract and intentional city in the world," emphasizing its artificiality, but it was also a symbol of modern disorder in a changing Russia. It frequently appeared to Russian writers as a menacing and inhuman mechanism. The grotesque and often nightmarish image of the city is featured in Pushkin's last poems, the Petersburg stories of Gogol, the novels of Dostoyevsky, the verse of Alexander Blok and Osip Mandelshtam, and in the symbolist novel Petersburg by Andrey Bely. According to Lotman in his chapter, 'The Symbolism of Saint Petersburg' in Universe and the Mind, these writers were inspired from symbolism from within the city itself. The effect of life in Saint Petersburg on the plight of the poor clerk in a society obsessed with hierarchy and status also became an important theme for authors such as Pushkin, Gogol, and Dostoyevsky. Another important feature of early Saint Petersburg literature is its mythical element, which incorporates urban legends and popular ghost stories, as the stories of Pushkin and Gogol included ghosts returning to Saint Petersburg to haunt other characters as well as other fantastical elements, creating a surreal and abstract image of Saint Petersburg.

Twentieth century writers from Saint Petersburg, such as Vladimir Nabokov, Ayn Rand, Andrey Bely and Yevgeny Zamyatin, along with his apprentices, The Serapion Brothers, created entire new styles in literature and contributed new insights to the understanding of society through their experience in this city. Anna Akhmatova became an important leader for Russian poetry. Her poem Requiem focuses on the tragedies of living during the time of the Stalinist terror. Another notable 20th century writer from Saint Petersburg is Joseph Brodsky, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature (1987). While living in the United States, his writings in English reflected on life in Saint Petersburg from the unique perspective of being both an insider and an outsider to the city in essays such as, "A Guide to a Renamed City" and the nostalgic "In a Room and a Half".


Leningrad hosted part of the football tournament during the 1980 Summer Olympics. The 1994 Goodwill Games were held here.

The first competition here was the 1703 rowing event initiated by Peter the Great, after the victory over the Swedish fleet. Yachting events were held by the Russian Navy since the foundation of the city. Yacht clubs: St. Petersburg River Yacht Clubmarker, Neva Yacht Clubmarker, the latter is the oldest yacht club in the world. In the winter, when the sea and lake surfaces are frozen and yachts and dinghies cannot be used, local people sail on ice boats.

Equestrianism has been a long tradition, popular among the Tsars and aristocracy, as well as part of the military training. Several historic sports arenas were built for Equestrianism since the 18th century, to maintain training all year round, such as the Zimny Stadion and Konnogvardeisky Manezh among others.

Chess tradition was highlighted by the 1914 international tournament, in which the title "Grandmaster" was first formally conferred by Russian Tsar Nicholas II to five players: Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine, Tarrasch and Marshall, and which the Tsar had partially funded.

Kirov Stadiummarker (now demolished) was one of the largest stadiums anywhere in the world, and the home to FC Zenit St. Petersburg in 1950-1993 and 1995. In 1951 the attendance of 110,000 set the record for the Sovietmarker football. In 2007 Zenit became champions of the Russian Premier League, won the UEFA Cup 2007–08 season and the 2008 UEFA Supercup. Zenit now plays their home games at Petrovsky Stadiummarker.


As of 2006/2007 there were 1024 kindergartens, 716 public school and 80 vocational schools in Saint Petersburg. The largest of the higher education institutions are Saint Petersburg State University, enrolling approximately 32,000 undergraduate students, Saint Petersburg Polytechnical Universitymarker and Herzen Universitymarker. However, the universities are all federal property and don't belong to the city.

See also



  • Amery, Colin, Brian Curran & Yuri Molodkovets. St. Petersburg. London: Frances Lincoln, 2006. ISBN 0711224927.
  • Bater, James H. St. Petersburg: Industrialization and Change. Montreal: McGuill-Queen’s University Press, 1976. ISBN 0773502661.
  • Berelowitch, Wladimir & Olga Medvedkova. Histoire de Saint-Pétersbourg. Paris: Fayard, 1996. ISBN 2213596018.
  • Buckler, Julie. Mapping St. Petersburg: Imperial Text and Cityshape. Princeton: Princeton University Pressmarker, 2005 ISBN0691113491.
  • Clark, Katerina, Petersburg, Crucible of Revolution. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995.
  • Cross, Anthony (ed.). St. Petersburg, 1703-1825. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. ISBN 1403915709.
  • George, Arthur L. & Elena George. St. Petersburg: Russia's Window to the Future, The First Three Centuries. Lanham: Taylor Trade Publishing, 2003. ISBN 1589790170.
  • Glantz, David M. The Battle for Leningrad, 1941-1944. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2002. ISBN 0700612084.
  • Hellberg-Hirn, Elena. Imperial Imprints: Post-Soviet St. Petersburg. Helsinki: SKS Finnish Literature Society, 2003. ISBN 9517464916.
  • Knopf Guide: Sat. Petersburg. New York: Knopf, 1995. ISBN 0679762027.
  • Eyewitness Guide: St. Petersburg.
  • Lincoln, W. Bruce. Sunlight at Midnight: St. Petersburg and the Rise of Modern Russia. New York: Basic Books, 2000. ISBN 0465083234.
  • Orttung, Robert W. From Leningrad to St. Petersburg: Democratization in a Russian City. New York: St. Martin’s, 1995. ISBN 0312175612.
  • Ruble, Blair A. Leningrad: Shaping a Soviet City. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990. ISBN 0877723478.
  • Shvidkovsky, Dmitry O. & Alexander Orloff. St. Petersburg: Architecture of the Tsars. New York: Abbeville Press, 1996. ISBN 0789202174.
  • Volkov, Solomon. St. Petersburg: A Cultural History. New York: Free Press, 1995. ISBN 0028740521.
  • St. Petersburg:Architecture of the Tsars. 360 pages. Abbeville Press, 1996. ISBN 0789202174
  • Saint Petersburg: Museums, Palaces, and Historic Collections: A Guide to the Lesser Known Treasures of St. Petersburg. 2003. ISBN 1593730004.
  • Нежиховский Р. А. Река Нева и Невская губа, Leningrad, Гидрометеоиздат, 1981.


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