Saint Petersburg

Saint Petersburg
Санкт-Петербург (Russian)
—   Federal city  —

Clockwise from top left: Peter and Paul Fortress on Zayachy Island, Smolny Cathedral, Bronze Horseman on Senate Square, the Winter Palace, Trinity Cathedral, and the Moyka river with the General Staff Building.


Coat of arms
Coordinates: 59°57′N 30°18′E / 59°57′N 30°18′E / 59.950; 30.300
Political status
Country Russia
Federal district Northwestern [1]
Economic region Northwestern [2]
Established 27 May 1703 [3]
Federal city Day 27 May [4]
Government (as of March 2010)
 •  Governor Georgy Poltavchenko ( UR)
 • Legislature Legislative Assembly
Area  [5]
 • Total 1,439 km2 (556 sq mi)
Area rank 82nd
Population (2017 est.)
 • Total 5,323,300 ( permanent residents within city limits) [6]
Time zone(s) MSK ( UTC+03:00) [7]
ISO 3166-2 RU-SPE
License plates 78, 98, 178
Official languages Russian [8]
Official website

Saint Petersburg ( Russian: Санкт-Петербу́рг, tr. Sankt-Peterburg, IPA:  [ˈsankt pʲɪtʲɪrˈburk] ( About this sound  listen)) is Russia's second-largest city after Moscow, with five million inhabitants in 2012. [9] An important Russian port on the Baltic Sea, it has a status of a federal subject (a federal city).

Situated on the Neva River, at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea, it was founded by Tsar Peter the Great on May 27 [ O.S. 16] 1703. In 1914, the name was changed from Saint Petersburg to Petrograd ( Russian: Петрогра́д, IPA:  [pʲɪtrɐˈgrat]), in 1924 to Leningrad ( Russian: Ленингра́д, IPA:  [lʲɪnʲɪnˈgrat]), and in 1991 back to Saint Petersburg. Between 1713 and 1728 and in 1732–1918, Saint Petersburg was the capital of imperial Russia. In 1918, the central government bodies moved to Moscow. [10]

Saint Petersburg is one of the modern cities of Russia, as well as its cultural capital. [11] The Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments constitute a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Saint Petersburg is home to The Hermitage, one of the largest art museums in the world. [12] Many foreign consulates, international corporations, banks, and businesses have offices in Saint Petersburg.


Imperial Era (1703–1917)

The Bronze Horseman, monument to Peter the Great

Swedish colonists built Nyenskans, a fortress, at the mouth of the Neva River in 1611, in a land then called Ingermanland, that was inhabited by Finnic tribe of Ingrians. A small town called "Nyen" grew up around it.

Peter the Great was interested in seafaring and maritime affairs, and he intended to have Russia gain a seaport in order to be able to trade with other maritime nations. [13] He needed a better seaport than Arkhangelsk, which was on the White Sea to the north and closed to shipping for months during the winter.

On May 12 [ O.S. 1] 1703, during the Great Northern War, Peter the Great captured Nyenskans [14] and soon replaced the fortress. On May 27 [ O.S. 16] 1703, [15] closer to the estuary 5 km (3 mi) inland from the gulf), on Zayachy (Hare) Island, he laid down the Peter and Paul Fortress, which became the first brick and stone building of the new city. [16]

The city was built by conscripted peasants from all over Russia; a number of Swedish prisoners of war were also involved in some years [17] under the supervision of Alexander Menshikov. Tens of thousands of serfs died building the city. [18] Later, the city became the centre of the Saint Petersburg Governorate. Peter moved the capital from Moscow to Saint Petersburg in 1712, 9 years before the Treaty of Nystad of 1721 ended the war; he referred to Saint Petersburg as the capital (or seat of government) as early as 1704. [13]

Map of Saint Petersburg, 1744

During its first few years, the city developed around Trinity Square on the right bank of the Neva, near the Peter and Paul Fortress. However, Saint Petersburg soon started to be built out according to a plan. By 1716 the Swiss Italian Domenico Trezzini had elaborated a project whereby the city centre would be located on Vasilyevsky Island and shaped by a rectangular grid of canals. The project was not completed, but is evident in the layout of the streets. In 1716, Peter the Great appointed Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Alexandre Le Blond as the chief architect of Saint Petersburg. [19]

The style of Petrine Baroque, developed by Trezzini and other architects and exemplified by such buildings as the Menshikov Palace, Kunstkamera, Peter and Paul Cathedral, Twelve Collegia, became prominent in the city architecture of the early 18th century. In 1724 the Academy of Sciences, University and Academic Gymnasium were established in Saint Petersburg by Peter the Great.

In 1725, Peter died at the age of fifty-two. His endeavours to modernize Russia had met with opposition from the Russian nobility—resulting in several attempts on his life and a treason case involving his son. [20] 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 was again designated as the capital of the Russian Empire. It remained the seat of the Romanov dynasty and the Imperial Court of the Russian Tsars, as well as the seat of the Russian government, for another 186 years until the communist revolution of 1917.

In 1736–1737 the city suffered from catastrophic fires. To rebuild the damaged boroughs, a committee under Burkhard Christoph von Münnich commissioned a new plan in 1737. The city was divided into five boroughs, and the city center was moved to the Admiralty borough, situated on the east bank between the Neva and Fontanka.

Palace Square backed by the General staff arch and building, as the main square of the Russian Empire it was the setting of many events of historic significance

It developed along three radial streets, which meet at the Admiralty building and are now one street known as Nevsky Prospekt (which is considered the main street of the city), Gorokhovaya Street and Voznesensky Prospekt. Baroque architecture became dominant in the city during the first sixty years, culminating in the Elizabethan Baroque, represented most notably by Italian Bartolomeo Rastrelli with such buildings as the Winter Palace. In the 1760s, Baroque architecture was succeeded by neoclassical architecture.

Established in 1762, the Commission of Stone Buildings of Moscow and Saint Petersburg ruled that no structure in the city can 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 was not until 1850 that the first permanent bridge across the Neva, Blagoveshchensky Bridge, was allowed to open. Before that, only pontoon bridges were allowed. Obvodny Canal (dug in 1769–1833) became the southern limit of the city.

The most prominent neoclassical and Empire-style architects in Saint Petersburg included:

Decembrists at the Senate Square, December 26, 1825.

In 1810, Alexander I established the first engineering Higher learning institution, the Saint Petersburg Main military engineering School in Saint Petersburg. Many monuments commemorate the Russian victory over Napoleonic France in the Patriotic War of 1812, including the Alexander Column by Montferrand, erected in 1834, and the Narva Triumphal Gate.

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

By the 1840s, neoclassical architecture had given way to various romanticist styles, which dominated until the 1890s, represented by such architects as Andrei Stackenschneider ( Mariinsky Palace, Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace, Nicholas Palace, New Michael Palace) and Konstantin Thon ( Moskovsky railway station).

With the emancipation of the serfs undertaken by Alexander II in 1861 and an 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; it developed as one of the largest industrial cities in Europe, with a major naval base (in Kronstadt), river and sea port.

The names of saints Peter and Paul, bestowed upon original city's citadel and its cathedral (from 1725—a burial vault of Russian emperors) coincidentally were the names of the first two assassinated Russian Emperors, Peter III (1762, supposedly killed in a conspiracy led by his wife, Catherine the Great) and Paul I (1801, Nicholas Zubov and other conspirators who brought to power Alexander I, the son of their victim). The third emperor's assassination took place in Petersburg in 1881 when Alexander II fell victim to narodniki (see the Church of the Savior on Blood).

The Revolution of 1905 began in Saint Petersburg and spread rapidly into the provinces.

On September 1, 1914, after the outbreak of World War I, the Imperial government renamed the city Petrograd, [21] meaning "Peter's City", to remove the German words Sankt and Burg.

Revolution and Soviet Era (1917–1941)

In March 1917, during the February Revolution Nicholas II abdicated both for himself and on behalf of his son, ending the Russian monarchy and over three hundred years of Romanov dynastic rule.

The Russian Revolution of 1917 began in Petrograd when the Bolsheviks stormed the Winter Palace

On November 7, 1917 ( OS October 25), the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, stormed the Winter Palace in an event known thereafter as the October Revolution, which led to the end of the post-Tsarist provisional government, the transfer of all political power to the Soviets, and the rise of the Communist Party. [22] After that the city acquired a new descriptive name, "the city of three revolutions", [23] referring to the three major developments in the political history of Russia of the early 20th-century.

In September and October 1917, German troops invaded the West Estonian archipelago and threatened Petrograd with bombardment and invasion. On March 12, 1918, the Soviets transferred the government to Moscow, to keep it away from the state border. During the ensuing Civil War, in 1919 general Yudenich advancing from Estonia repeated the attempt to capture the city, but Leon Trotsky mobilized the army and forced him to retreat.

On January 26, 1924, five days after Lenin's death, Petrograd was renamed Leningrad. Later some streets and other toponyms were renamed accordingly. The city has over 230 places associated with the life and activities of Lenin. Some of them were turned into museums, [24] including the cruiser Aurora – a symbol of the October Revolution and the oldest ship in the Russian Navy.

In the 1920s and 1930s, the poor outskirts were reconstructed into regularly planned boroughs. Constructivist architecture flourished around that time. Housing became a government-provided amenity; many "bourgeois" apartments were so large that numerous families were assigned to what were called "communal" apartments ( kommunalkas). By the 1930s, 68% of the population lived in such housing. In 1935 a new general plan was outlined, whereby the city should expand to the south. Constructivism was rejected in favor of a more pompous Stalinist architecture. Moving the city center further from the border with Finland, Stalin adopted a plan to build a new city hall with a huge adjacent square at the southern end of Moskovsky Prospekt, designated as the new main street of Leningrad. After the Second World War, the Soviet-Finnish border moved northwards. Nevsky Prospekt with Palace Square maintained the functions and the role of a city center.

In December 1931, Leningrad was administratively separated from Leningrad Oblast. At that time it included the 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). [25]

On December 1, 1934, Sergey Kirov, the popular communist leader of Leningrad, was assassinated, which became the pretext for the Great Purge. [26]

World War II (1941–1945)

Citizens of Leningrad during the 872-day siege, in which more than one million civilians died.

During World War II, German forces besieged Leningrad following the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. [27] The siege lasted 872 days, [27] from September 1941 to January 1944. [28] The Siege of Leningrad proved one of the longest, most destructive, and most lethal sieges of a major city in modern history. It isolated the city from most supplies except those provided through the Road of Life across Lake Ladoga. More than one million civilians were killed, mainly from starvation. Many others were eventually evacuated or escaped, so the city became largely depopulated.

On May 1, 1945 Joseph Stalin, in his Supreme Commander Order No. 20, named Leningrad, alongside Stalingrad, Sevastopol, and Odessa, hero cities of the war. A law acknowledging the honorary title of "Hero City" passed on May 8, 1965 (the 20th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War), during the Brezhnev era. The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR awarded Leningrad as a Hero City the Order of Lenin and the Gold Star medal "for the heroic resistance of the city and tenacity of the survivors of the Siege". The Hero-City Obelisk bearing the Gold Star sign was installed in April 1985.

Soviet Era Continued (1945–1991)

In October 1946 some territories along the northern coast of the Gulf of Finland, which had passed to the USSR from Finland in 1940 under the peace treaty following the Winter War, were transferred from Leningrad Oblast to Leningrad and divided into Sestroretsky District and Kurortny District. These included the town of Terijoki (renamed Zelenogorsk in 1948). [25] Leningrad and many of its suburbs were rebuilt over the post-war decades, partially according to pre-war plans. The 1948 general plan for Leningrad featured radial urban development in the north as well as in the south. In 1953 Pavlovsky District in Leningrad Oblast was abolished, and parts of its territory, including Pavlovsk, merged with Leningrad. In 1954 the settlements Levashovo, Pargolovo and Pesochny merged with Leningrad. [25]

Leningrad gave its name to the Leningrad Affair (1949–1952), a notable event in the postwar political struggle in the USSR. It was a product of rivalry between Stalin's potential successors where one side was represented by the leaders of the city Communist Party organization—the second most significant one in the country after Moscow. The entire elite leadership of Leningrad was destroyed, including the former mayor Kuznetsov, the acting mayor Pyotr Sergeevich Popkov, and all their deputies; overall 23 leaders were sentenced to the death penalty, 181 to prison or exile (exonerated in 1954). About 2,000 ranking officials across the USSR were expelled from the party and the Komsomol and removed from leadership positions. They were accused (almost entirely falsely) of Russian nationalism. [29]

The Leningrad Metro underground rapid transit system, designed before the war, opened in 1955 with its first eight stations decorated with marble and bronze. However, after the death of Stalin in 1953, the perceived ornamental excesses of the Stalinist architecture were abandoned. From the 1960s to the 1980s many new residential boroughs were built on the outskirts; while the functionalist apartment blocks were nearly identical to each other, many families moved there from kommunalkas in the city centre in order to live in separate apartments.

Contemporary Era (1991-present)

View from the Colonnade, St. Isaac's Cathedral, Saint Petersburg

On June 12, 1991, simultaneously with the first Russian presidential elections, the city authorities arranged for the mayoral elections and a referendum upon the name of the city. The turnout was 65%; 66.13% of the total count of votes went to Anatoly Sobchak, who became the first directly elected mayor of the city.

Meanwhile, economic conditions started to deteriorate as the country tried to adapt to major changes. For the first time since the 1940s, food rationing was introduced, and the city received humanitarian food aid from abroad. [30] This dramatic time was depicted in photographic series of Russian photographer Alexey Titarenko. [31] [32] Economic conditions began to improve only at the beginning of the 21st century. [33] In 1995 a northern section of the Kirovsko-Vyborgskaya Line of the Saint Petersburg Metro was cut off by underground flooding, creating a major obstacle to the city development for almost ten years.

In 1996, Vladimir Yakovlev defeated Anatoly Sobchak in the elections for the head of the city administration. The title of the city head was changed from "mayor" to "governor". In 2000 Yakovlev won re-election. His second term expired in 2004; the long-awaited restoration of broken subway connection was expected to finish by that time. But in 2003 Yakovlev suddenly resigned, leaving the governor's office to Valentina Matviyenko.

Standard "Home-Ship" (1970s–1980s)

The law on election of the City Governor was changed, breaking the tradition of democratic election by a universal suffrage. In 2006 the city legislature re-approved Matviyenko as governor. Residential building had intensified again; real-estate prices inflated greatly, which caused many new problems for the preservation of the historical part of the city.

Although the central part of the city has a UNESCO designation (there are about 8,000 architectural monuments in Petersburg), the preservation of its historical and architectural environment became controversial. [34] After 2005, the demolition of older buildings in the historical centre was permitted. [35] In 2006 Gazprom announced an ambitious project to erect a 396-meter skyscraper opposite to Smolny, which[ according to whom?] could result in the loss of the unique line of Petersburg landscape.[ citation needed] Urgent protests by citizens and prominent public figures of Russia against this project were not considered by Governor Valentina Matviyenko and the city authorities until December 2010, when after the statement of President Dmitry Medvedev, the city decided to find a more appropriate location for this project. In the same year, the new location for the project was relocated to Lakhta, a historical area northwest of the center city, and the new project would be named Lakhta Center. Construction was approved by Gazprom and the city administration and commenced in 2012. The Lakhta Center would be the first tallest skyscraper in Russia and Europe that is outside of Moscow.

Other Languages
Адыгэбзэ: Бытырбыху
Afrikaans: Sint Petersburg
Alemannisch: Sankt Petersburg
العربية: سانت بطرسبرغ
aragonés: Sant Petersburgo
asturianu: San Petersburgu
Avañe'ẽ: San Petersburgo
Aymar aru: Santu Pitirwurhu
azərbaycanca: Sankt-Peterburq
bamanankan: Saint Petersburg
Bân-lâm-gú: Sankt-Peterburg
башҡортса: Санкт-Петербург
беларуская: Санкт-Пецярбург
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Санкт-Пецярбург
Bislama: San-Peterburg
български: Санкт Петербург
bosanski: Sankt Peterburg
brezhoneg: Sant-Petersbourg
čeština: Petrohrad
Chi-Chewa: Saint Petersburg
chiTumbuka: Saint Petersburg
Cymraeg: St Petersburg
dolnoserbski: Sankt Petersburg
eesti: Peterburi
español: San Petersburgo
Esperanto: Sankt-Peterburgo
estremeñu: San Petersburgu
Fiji Hindi: Saint Petersburg
føroyskt: St. Pætursborg
Gàidhlig: Sankt Peterburg
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Sankt-Peterburg
hornjoserbsce: Pětrohród
hrvatski: Sankt-Peterburg
Bahasa Indonesia: Sankt-Peterburg
interlingua: Sancte Petroburgo
italiano: San Pietroburgo
Basa Jawa: St. Petersburg
kalaallisut: Sankt Petersborg
къарачай-малкъар: Санкт-Петербург
kernowek: Sen Pederburg
Kiswahili: Sankt Peterburg
Kreyòl ayisyen: Saint-Pétersbourg
кырык мары: Санкт-Петербург
latgaļu: Pīterpiļs
Latina: Petropolis
latviešu: Sanktpēterburga
Lëtzebuergesch: Sankt Péitersbuerg
Limburgs: Sint-Petersburg
Livvinkarjala: Piiteri
la .lojban.: sankt. peterburg
lumbaart: San Pederburgh
македонски: Санкт Петербург
مازِرونی: سن پترزبورگ
Bahasa Melayu: Saint Petersburg
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Sankt-Peterburg
Mirandés: San Petersburgo
молдовеняскэ: Санкт-Петербург
Dorerin Naoero: St. Petersburg
Nederlands: Sint-Petersburg
Nedersaksies: Sint-Petersborg
Napulitano: San Pietroburgo
norsk nynorsk: St. Petersburg
олык марий: Санкт-Петербург
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Sankt-Peterburg
Перем Коми: Петракар
Piemontèis: San Peroborgh
Plattdüütsch: Sankt Petersborg
polski: Petersburg
português: São Petersburgo
Qaraqalpaqsha: Sankt Peterburg
qırımtatarca: Sankt Peterburg
Runa Simi: Sankt Peterburg
русиньскый: Санкт-Петербурґ
sicilianu: San Pietruburgu
Simple English: Saint Petersburg
slovenčina: Petrohrad
slovenščina: Sankt Peterburg
словѣньскъ / ⰔⰎⰑⰂⰡⰐⰠⰔⰍⰟ: Санктъ Пєтєрбоургъ
ślůnski: Pejtersburg
Soomaaliga: Saint Petersburg
српски / srpski: Санкт Петербург
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Sankt Peterburg
Taqbaylit: Saint-Petersburg
tarandíne: San Pitreburghe
татарча/tatarça: Санкт-Петербург
Türkçe: Sankt-Peterburg
Türkmençe: Sankt-Peterburg
українська: Санкт-Петербург
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: Sankt-Pétérburg
vepsän kel’: Piter
Tiếng Việt: Sankt-Peterburg
Volapük: Sankt-Peterburg
Võro: Peterburk
文言: 聖彼得堡
West-Vlams: Sint-Petersburg
吴语: 圣彼得堡
ייִדיש: פעטערבורג
粵語: 聖彼得堡
žemaitėška: Sankt Peterborgs
中文: 圣彼得堡