Different names throughout its history, and yet it’s the same city, Imperial, Soviet, Russian – St. Petersburg, Petrograd, Leningrad and St. Petersburg again. Each of these names which this fair city altered throughout its history indicates the very core of the Russian history, full of riot and storm of world history, which have largely reflected on the former capital of imperial Russia.
St. Petersburg was founded by Peter the Great in 1703, as a “window to the West“. It was the capital of the empire for two centuries, as well as a synonym for success and glory, and a crib of a revolution that overthrew the monarchy and brought the Bolsheviks to power in 1917. Under the name of Leningrad on the altar of Patriotic War, the city laid the heroic sacrifices, enduring 900 days under the siege by the Nazis. And then again, in 1991, after the fall of the Soviet Union, it changed its name to St. Petersburg, returning to its roots and old glory. This is a city with an identity, which it hugely owes to its origin and the intertwining of myth and reality during its three centuries long history. Created by the will of an autocrat, this imperial capital defined two things – Peter’s rejection of “old Russia” and its acceptance of Europe. Very proud of itself, its intellectuals, its past of the working revolution, Saint Petersburg is a pleasant city. It is also full of contrasts – beautiful, but at the same time a little dull, with the beggars and the newly rich.
Best time to visit the city is during the “white nights” (from mid-June to mid-July), when it doesn’t go dark at all, and the city celebrates a special festival. From May to October, all the bridges across the Neva River are raised between two and five in the morning which is really a sight worth seeing and it attracts crowds of tourists. Just be careful not to find yourself on the other side of the river at the time since there’s no way to come back till morning.
When you visit this city don’t miss the opportunity to see some of the most beautiful buildings in Russia, as well as one of the world’s greatest museums. Here we’ll mention some of them, and you’ll, hopefully, amend this list on the spot.
Peterhof – escape from the city for a day and see the luxurious rooms and a property filled with fountains of Peter the Great’s summer house that overlooks the Finnish Bay.
Hop to the Winter Palace, a luxury home of each emperor and empress, where the Hermitage, one of the biggest artistic museums in the world, is placed. With a collection that has nearly 2.8 million objects, it covers almost all periods of human civilization, all for the Scythian works in gold to Cubism.
The Peter and Paul Fortress – was once known as the “Russian Bastille”; the Island Fortress is now appreciated historic monument, its Cathedral with golden pointed peaks is a place where the members of the Romanov dynasty were buried.
Russian Museum presents an unrivaled collection of Russian art, which reflects the history of the country, from medieval icons and Stalinist social realism to the modern objects.
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood – its multicolored domes are the hallmark of the city. Its altar marks the place where Alexander II was assassinated, although you will probably find the beautiful mosaics more interesting.
As for accommodation in this city, there are very little hotels in the center and they are expensive. Hostels are better solutions for accommodation, pretty much in the center, with decent service and no age limit. This city offers a lot of potential for a “wild” night of fun. There are lots of clubs; and for the Russians good time is associated with several legendary native bands. The city is known for its classical music concerts, ballet and opera.