A proponent of westernising Russia, Peter the Great, who established the city, originally named it Sankt-Pieter-Burch (Сан(к)т-Питер-Бурхъ) in Dutch manner and later its spelling was standardised as Sankt-Peterburg (Санкт-Петербу́ргъ;[a] the Russian name lacks the letter s between Peter and burg) under German influence. On 1 September 1914, after the outbreak of World War I, the Imperial government renamed the city Petrograd (Russian: Петрогра́д[a], IPA: [pʲɪtrɐˈgrat]), meaning "Peter's city", in order to expunge the German words Sankt and Burg. On 26 January 1924, shortly after the death of Vladimir Lenin, it was renamed to Leningrad (Russian: Ленингра́д, IPA: [lʲɪnʲɪnˈgrat]), meaning "Lenin's City". On 6 September 1991, the original name, Sankt-Peterburg, was returned by citywide referendum. Today, in English the city is known as "Saint Petersburg". Local residents often refer to the city by its shortened nickname, Piter (Russian: Пи́тер, IPA: [ˈpʲitʲɪr]).
The city's traditional nicknames among Russians are the Window to the West and the Window to Europe. The northernmost metropolis in the world, St. Petersburg is often called the Venice of the North or Russian Venice due to its many water corridors, as the city is built on swamp and water. Furthermore, St. Petersburg has strongly European-inspired architecture and culture, which is combined with the city's Russian heritage. Another nickname of St. Petersburg is The City of WhiteNights because of a natural phenomenon which arises due to the closeness to the polar region and ensures that in summer the nights of the city do not get completely dark for a month. Just as Venice is associated with romance, in St. Petersburg the White Nights have a high value for couples in love.
At the end of the 17th century, Peter the Great, who was interested in seafaring and maritime affairs, wanted Russia to gain a seaport to trade with the rest of Europe. He needed a better seaport than the country's main one at the time, Arkhangelsk, which was on the White Sea in the far north and closed to shipping during the winter.
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 ItalianDomenico Trezzini had elaborated a project whereby the city centre would be 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.
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 centre was moved to the Admiralty borough, on the east bank between the Neva and Fontanka.
Established in 1762, the Commission of Stone Buildings of Moscow and Saint Petersburg ruled 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.
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.
In September and October 1917, German troops invaded the West Estonian archipelago and threatened Petrograd with bombardment and invasion. On 12 March 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 26 January 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, 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 favour of a more pompous Stalinist architecture. Moving the city centre 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 Winter (Soviet-Finnish) war in 1939–1940, the Soviet–Finnish border moved northwards. Nevsky Prospekt with Palace Square maintained the functions and the role of a city centre.
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).
On 1 December 1934, Sergey Kirov, the popular communist leader of Leningrad, was assassinated, which became the pretext for the Great Purge. In Leningrad, approximately 40,000 were executed during Stalin's purges.
Citizens of Leningrad during the 872-day siege, in which more than one million civilians died, mostly from starvation.
During World War II, German forces besieged Leningrad following the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. The siege lasted 872 days, or almost two and a half years, from 8 September 1941 to 27 January 1944.
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 food supplies except those provided through the Road of Life across Lake Ladoga, which could not make it through until the lake literally froze. More than one million civilians were killed, mainly from starvation. Many others escaped or were evacuated, so the city became largely depopulated.
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). 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.
Street scene in Leningrad in 1972
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 of Russian nationalism.
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 Stalin's death 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 to live in separate apartments.
On 12 June 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, when the name reverted to Saint Petersburg. 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. This dramatic time was depicted in photographic series of Russian photographer Alexey Titarenko. Economic conditions began to improve only at the beginning of the 21st century. 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. On 13 June 1996 Saint Petersburg, alongside Leningrad Oblast and Tver Oblast, signed a power-sharing agreement with the federal government, granting it autonomy. This agreement was abolished on 4 April 2002.
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 the 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. After 2005, the demolition of older buildings in the historical centre was permitted. In 2006 Gazprom announced an ambitious project to erect a 403 m (1,322 ft) skyscraper (the Okhta Center) opposite to Smolny, which[according to whom?] could result in the loss of the unique line of Petersburg landscape. 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 city centre, and the new project would be named Lakhta Center. Construction was approved by Gazprom and the city administration and commenced in 2012. The 462 m (1,516 ft) high Lakhta Center has become the first tallest skyscraper in Russia and Europe outside of Moscow.
The elevation of Saint Petersburg ranges from the sea level to its highest point of 175.9 m (577 ft) at the Orekhovaya Hill in the Duderhof Heights in the south. Part of the city's territory west of Liteyny Prospekt is no higher than 4 m (13 ft) 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 five most disastrous floods occurred in 1824 (4.21 m or 13 ft 10 in above sea level, during which over 300 buildings were destroyed[b]), 1924 (3.8 m, 12 ft 6 in), 1777 (3.21 m, 10 ft 6 in), 1955 (2.93 m, 9 ft 7 in), and 1975 (2.81 m, 9 ft 3 in). To prevent floods, the Saint Petersburg Dam has been constructed.
Since the 18th century the city's terrain has been raised artificially, at some places by more than 4 m (13 ft), making mergers of several islands, and changing the hydrology of the city. Besides the Neva and its tributaries, other important rivers of the federal subject of Saint Petersburg are Sestra, Okhta and Izhora. The largest lake is Sestroretsky Razliv in the north, followed by Lakhtinsky Razliv, Suzdal Lakes and other smaller lakes.
Due to its northerly location at ca. 60° N latitude the day length in Petersburg varies across seasons, ranging from 5 hours 53 minutes to 18 hours 50 minutes. A period from mid-May to mid-July when twilight may last all night is called the white nights.
Saint Petersburg is about 165 km (103 miles) from the border with Finland, connected to it via the M10 highway.
Under the Köppen climate classification, Saint Petersburg is classified as Dfb, a humid continental climate. Distinct moderating influence of the Baltic Sea cyclones result in warm, humid and short summers and long, moderately cold wet winters. The climate of Saint Petersburg is close to that of Helsinki, although colder in winter and warmer in summer because of its more eastern location.
The average maximum temperature in July is 23 °C (73 °F), and the average minimum temperature in February is −8.5 °C (16.7 °F); an extreme temperature of 37.1 °C (98.8 °F) occurred during the 2010 Northern Hemisphere summer heat wave. A winter minimum of −35.9 °C (−32.6 °F) was recorded in 1883. The average annual temperature is 5.8 °C (42.4 °F). The Neva River within the city limits usually freezes up in November–December and break-up occurs in April. From December to March there are 118 days average with snow cover, which reaches an average snow depth of 19 cm (7.5 in) by February. The frost-free period in the city lasts on average for about 135 days. Despite St. Petersburg's northern location, its winters are warmer than Moscow's due to the Gulf of Finland and some Gulf Stream influence from Scandinavian winds that can bring temperature slightly above freezing. The city also has a slightly warmer climate than its suburbs. Weather conditions are quite variable all year round.
Average annual precipitation varies across the city, averaging 660 mm (26 in) 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, and there are, on average, 165 overcast days per year.
While not originally named for Tsar Peter the Great, during World War I the city was changed from the Germanic "Peterburg" to "Petrograd" in his honour
A 14- to 15-letter-long name, composed of the three roots proved too cumbersome, and many shortened versions were used. The first General Governor of the city Menshikov is maybe also the author of the first nickname of Petersburg which he called Петри (Petri). It took some years until the known Russian spelling of this name finally settled. In 1740s Mikhail Lomonosov uses a derivative of Greek: Πετρόπολις (Petropolis; Петрополис, Petropolis) in a Russified form Petropol' (Петрополь). A combo Piterpol (Питерпол) also appears at this time. In any case, eventually the usage of prefix "Sankt-" ceased except for the formal official documents, where a three-letter abbreviation "СПб" (SPb) was very widely used as well.
In the 1830s Alexander Pushkin translated the "foreign" city name of "Saint Petersburg" to the more Russian Petrograd in one of his poems. However, it was only on 31 August [O.S. 18 August] 1914, after the war with Germany had begun, that Tsar Nicholas II renamed the capital to Petrograd. Since the prefix "Saint" was omitted, this act also changed the eponym and the "patron" of the city, from Apostle Peter to Peter the Great, its founder.
From 1924 to 1991 the city was known as 'Leningrad'. This is a picture of the Saint Petersburg port entrance with an old 'Ленинград' (Leningrad) sign
After the October Revolution the name Red Petrograd (Красный Петроград, Krasny Petrograd) was often used in newspapers and other prints until the city was renamed Leningrad in January 1924.
A referendum on reversing the renaming of Leningrad was held on 12 June 1991, with 54.86% of voters (with a turnout of 65%) supporting "Saint Petersburg". Renaming the city Petrograd was not an option. This change officially took effect on 6 September 1991. Meanwhile, the oblast whose administrative center is also in Saint Petersburg is still named Leningrad.
Having passed the role of capital to Petersburg, Moscow never relinquished the title of "capital", being called pervoprestolnaya ("first-throned") for 200 years. An equivalent name for Petersburg, the "Northern Capital", has re-entered usage today since several federal institutions were recently moved from Moscow to Saint Petersburg. Solemn descriptive names like "the city of three revolutions" and "the cradle of the October revolution" used in Soviet-era are reminders of the pivotal events in national history that occurred here. For their part, poetic names of the city, like the "Venice of the North" and the "Northern Palmyra" emphasize town-planning and architectural features contrasting these parallels to the northern location of this megalopolis.Petropolis is a translation of a city name to Greek, and is also a kind of descriptive name: Πέτρ- is a Greek root for "stone", so the "city from stone" emphasizes the material that had been forcibly made obligatory for construction from the very first years of the city. (Its official Greek name is Αγία Πετρούπολη.)
Saint Petersburg is the second largest city in Russia. As of the 2017 Rosstat, the federal subject's population is 5,281,579 or 3.6% of the total population of Russia; up from 4,879,566 (3.4%) recorded in the 2010 Census, and up from 5,023,506 recorded in the 1989 Census.
During the 20th century, the city experienced dramatic population changes. From 2.4 million residents in 1916, its population dropped to less than 740,000 by 1920 during the Russian Revolution of 1917 and Russian Civil War. The minorities of Germans, Poles, Finns, Estonians and Latvians were almost completely transferred from Leningrad during the 1930s. From 1941 to the end of 1943, population dropped from 3 million to less than 600,000, as people died in battles, starved to death or were evacuated during the Siege of Leningrad. Some evacuees returned after the siege, 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 4.6 million, while the suburban population increased due to privatization of land and massive move to suburbs. Based on the 2010 census results the population is over 4.8 million. For the first half of 2007, the birth rate was 9.1 per 1000 and remained lower than the death rate(until the 2012); people over 65 constitute more than twenty percent of the population; and the median age is about 40 years. Since 2012 the birth rate became higher than the death rate.
People in urban Saint Petersburg lived mostly in apartments. Between 1918 and the 1990s, the Soviets nationalised housing and forced residents to share communal apartments (kommunalkas). 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.
Religion in Saint Petersburg as of 2012 (Sreda Arena Atlas)
According to the federal law passed in 2004, heads of federal subjects, including the governor of Saint Petersburg, were nominated by the President of Russia and approved by local legislatures. Should the legislature disapprove the nominee, the President could dissolve it. The former governor, Valentina Matviyenko, was approved according to the new system in December 2006. She was the only woman governor in the whole of Russia until her resignation on 22 August 2011. Matviyenko stood for elections as member of the Regional Council of Saint Petersburg and won comprehensively with allegations of rigging and ballot stuffing by the opposition. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has already backed her for the position of Speaker to the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation and her election qualifies her for that job. After her resignation, Georgy Poltavchenko was appointed as the new acting governor the same day. In 2012, following passage of a new federal law, restoring direct elections of heads of federal subjects, the city charter was again amended to provide for direct elections of governor. On 3 October 2018, Poltavchenko resigned, and Alexander Beglov was appointed acting governor.
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.
Power Machines plant building on Sverdlovskaya embankment in Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a major trade gateway, serving as the financial and industrial centre of Russia, with specializations in oil and gas trade; shipbuilding yards; aerospace industry; technology, including radio, 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, and 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); it was founded by machine tool and boiler maker G.A. Lessner in 1904, with designs by Boris Loutsky, and it survived until 1910.
Saint Petersburg has three large cargo seaports: Bolshoi Port Saint Petersburg, Kronstadt, and Lomonosov. International cruise liners have been served at the passenger port at Morskoy Vokzal on the south-west of Vasilyevsky Island. In 2008 the first two berths 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 River are interconnected with the system of seaports, thus making Saint Petersburg the main link between the Baltic Sea and the rest of Russia through the Volga-Baltic Waterway.
The Saint Petersburg Mint (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 now grace 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, Mark Antokolsky, and others, were made there.
In 2007, Toyota opened a Camry plant after investing 5 billion roubles (approx. 200 mln dollars) in Shushary, one of the southern suburbs of Saint Petersburg. Opel, Hyundai and Nissan have also signed deals with the Russian government to build their automotive plants in Saint Petersburg. Automotive and auto-parts industry is on the rise there during the last decade.
Saint Petersburg has a large brewery and distillery industry. Known as Russia's "beer capital" due to the supply and quality of local water, its five large breweries account for over 30% of the country's domestic beer production. They include Europe's second largest brewery Baltika, Vena (both operated by BBH), Heineken Brewery, Stepan Razin (both by Heineken) and Tinkoff brewery (SUN-InBev).
The city's many local distilleries produce a broad range of vodka brands. The oldest ones is LIVIZ (founded in 1897). Among the youngest is Russian Standard Vodka introduced in Moscow in 1998, which opened in 2006 a new $60 million distillery in Petersburg (an area of 30,000 m2 (320,000 sq ft), production rate of 22,500 bottles per hour). In 2007 this brand was exported to over 70 countries.
Saint Petersburg has the second largest construction industry in Russia, including commercial, housing and road construction.
In 2006 Saint Petersburg's city budget was 180 billion rubles (about 7 billion US$ at 2006 exchange rates),. The federal subject's Gross Regional Product as of 2016 was 3.7 trillion Russian rubles (or around US$70 billion), ranked 2nd in Russia, after Moscow and per capita of US$13,000, ranked 12th among Russia's federal subjects, contributed mostly by wholesale and retail trade and repair services (24.7%) as well as processing industry (20.9%) and transportation and telecommunications (15.1%).
Budget revenues of the city in 2009 amounted to 294.3 billion rubles (about 10.044 billion US$ at 2009 exchange rates), expenses – 336.3 billion rubles (about 11.477 billion US$ at 2009 exchange rates). The budget deficit amounted to about 42 billion rubles. (about 1.433 billion US$ at 2009 exchange rates)
By 2015, St. Petersburg takes the 4th place on economy scales among all subjects of the Russian Federation, conceding only to Moscow, the Tyumen and Moscow Region.
Saint Petersburg has three skyscrapers: Leader Tower (140 m), Alexander Nevsky (124 m) and Atlantic City (105 m) all far from the historical centre. Regulations forbid construction of tall buildings in the city centre. The 310-meter (1,020 ft) tall Saint Petersburg TV Tower is the tallest completed structure in the city. However, there was a controversial project endorsed by the city authorities, and known as the Okhta Center, to build a 396 meters (1,299 ft) supertall skyscraper. In 2008, the World Monuments Fund included the Saint Petersburg historic skyline on the watch list of the 100 most endangered sites due to the expected construction, which threatens to alter it drastically. The Okhta Center project was cancelled at the end of 2010 and the Lakhta Center project began in the city's outskirts. The complex will include 463-metre-tall (1,519-foot) office skyscraper and several low rise mixed use buildings. The Lakhta Center project has caused much less controversy and, unlike the previous unbuilt project, is not seen by UNESCO as a potential threat to the city's cultural heritage because it is far from the historical centre. The building was completed in 2019, and at 462.5 metres is currently the tallest in Russia and Europe.
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 was not until 2004 that the first high bridge across the Neva, which does not need to be drawn, Big Obukhovsky Bridge, was opened. The most remarkable bridges of our days are Korabelny and Petrovsky cable-stayed bridges, which form the most spectacular part of the city toll road, Western High-Speed Diameter. There are hundreds of smaller bridges in Saint Petersburg spanning numerous canals and distributaries of the Neva, some of the most important of which are the Moika, Fontanka, Griboyedov Canal, 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 ironparapets.
Southern suburbs of the city feature former imperial residences, including Petergof, with majestic fountain cascades and parks, Tsarskoe Selo, with the baroque Catherine Palace and the neoclassical Alexander Palace, and Pavlovsk, which has a domed palace of Emperor Paul and one of Europe's largest English-style parks. Some other residences nearby and making part of the world heritage site, including a castle and park in Gatchina, actually belong to Leningrad Oblast rather than Saint Petersburg. Another notable suburb is Kronstadt with its 19th-century fortifications and naval monuments, occupying the Kotlin Island in the Gulf of Finland.
Since around the end of the 20th century a great deal of active building and restoration works have been carried out in a number of the city's older districts.The authorities have recently been compelled to transfer the ownership of state-owned private residences in the city centre to private lessors.Many older buildings have been reconstructed to allow their use as apartments and penthouses.
The 18th and 19th century architectural ensemble of the city and its environs is preserved in virtually unchanged form. For various reasons (including large-scale destruction during World War II and construction of modern buildings during the postwar period in the largest historical centres of Europe), Saint Petersburg has become a unique reserve of European architectural styles of the past three centuries. Saint Petersburg's loss of capital city status helped it retain many of its pre-revolutionary buildings, as modern architectural 'prestige projects' tended to be built in Moscow; this largely prevented the rise of mid-to-late-20th century architecture and helped maintain the architectural appearance of the historic city centre.
Saint Petersburg is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list as an area with 36 historical architectural complexes and around 4000 outstanding individual monuments of architecture, history and culture. New tourist programs and sightseeing tours have been developed for those wishing to see Saint Petersburg's cultural heritage.
The city has 221 museums, 2000 libraries, more than 80 theatres, 100 concert organizations, 45 galleries and exhibition halls, 62 cinemas and around 80 other cultural establishments. Every year the city hosts around 100 festivals and various competitions of art and culture, including more than 50 international ones.
Despite the economic instability of the 1990s, not a single major theatre or museum was closed in Saint Petersburg; on the contrary many new ones opened, for example a private museum of puppets (opened in 1999) is the third museum of its kind in Russia, where collections of more than 2000 dolls are presented including 'The multinational Saint Petersburg' and Pushkin's Petersburg. The museum world of Saint Petersburg is incredibly diverse. The city is not only home to the world-famous Hermitage Museum and the Russian Museum with its rich collection of Russian art, but also the palaces of Saint Petersburg and its suburbs, so-called small town museums and others like the museum of famous Russian writer Dostoyevsky; Museum of Musical Instruments, the museum of decorative arts and the museum of professional orientation.
The musical life of Saint Petersburg is rich and diverse, with the city now playing host to a number of annual carnivals.
Ballet performances occupy a special place in the cultural life of Saint Petersburg. The Petersburg School of Ballet is named as one of the best in the world. Traditions of the Russian classical school have been passed down from generation to generation among outstanding educators. The art of famous and prominent Saint Petersburg dancers like Rudolf Nureyev, Natalia Makarova, Mikhail Baryshnikov was, and is, admired throughout the world. Contemporary Petersburg ballet is made up not only of traditional Russian classical school, but also ballets by those like Boris Eifman, who expanded the scope of strict classical Russian ballet to almost unimaginable limits. Remaining faithful to the classical basis (he was a choreographer at the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet), he combined classical ballet with the avant-garde style, and then, in turn, with acrobatics, rhythmic gymnastics, dramatic expressiveness, cinema, color, light, and finally with spoken word.
All major Russian newspapers are active in Saint Petersburg. The city has a developed telecommunications system. In 2014 Rostelecom, the national operator announced it began a major modernization of the fixed-line network in the city.
Television networks that can be received in the city
A number of museums provide insight into the Soviet history of Saint Petersburg, including the Museum of the Blockade, which describes the Siege of Leningrad and the Museum of Political History, which explains many authoritarian features of the USSR.
Dmitri Shostakovich, who was born and raised in Saint Petersburg, dedicated his Seventh Symphony to the city, calling it the "Leningrad Symphony". He wrote the symphony while based in the city during the siege of Leningrad. It was premiered in Samara in March 1942; a few months later, it received its first performance in the besieged Leningrad at the Bolshoy Philharmonic Hall under the baton of conductor Karl Eliasberg. It was heard over the radio and was said to have lifted the spirits of the surviving population. In 1992, the 7th Symphony was performed by the 14 surviving orchestral players of the Leningrad premiere in the same hall as half a century before. 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. Mravinsky's term as artistic director of the Leningrad Philharmonic—a term that is possibly the longest of any conductor with any orchestra in modern times—led the orchestra from a little-known provincial ensemble to one of the world's most highly regarded orchestras, especially for the performance of Russian music.
The Imperial Choral Capella was founded and modelled 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 was later named jazz club Kvadrat. In 1956 the popular ensemble Druzhba was founded by Aleksandr Bronevitsky and Edita Piekha to become the first popular band in the USSR during the 1950s. 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, which later grew to huge popularity. Since then "Peter's rock" music style was formed.
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 have been produced worldwide but not filmed in the city. The first film studios were founded in Saint Petersburg in the 20th century 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 an international team of British, American, French and Russian filmmakers.
Several international film festivals are held annually, such as the Festival of Festivals, Saint 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 often 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 by 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.
20th-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 adumbrates the perils encountered during the Stalinist era. 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".
Equestrianism has been a long tradition, popular among the Tsars and aristocracy, as well as part of 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.
In 2018, Saint Petersburg hosted several matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. It hosted group stage games, a round of 16 game, a semi-final and a third place match. All games were played at Krestovsky Stadium. The Konyushennaya Square served as a venue for the FIFA Fan Fest.
Saint Petersburg is a major transport hub. The first Russian railway was built here in 1837, and since then the city's transport infrastructure has kept pace with the city's growth. Petersburg has an extensive system of local roads and railway services, maintains a large public transport system that includes the Saint Petersburg tram and the Saint Petersburg Metro, and is home to several riverine services that convey passengers around the city efficiently and in relative comfort.
The city is connected to the rest of Russia and the wider world by several federal highways and national and international rail routes. Pulkovo Airport serves most of the air passengers departing from or arriving to the city.
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 mean of transport; in the 1980s this was the largest tram network in the world, but many tracks were dismantled in the 2000s.
Buses carry up to three 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 5 lines with 69 stations, connecting all five railway terminals, and carrying 2.3 million passengers daily. Metro stations are often elaborately decorated with materials such as marble and bronze.
As of 2018, the Saint Petersburg Metro will include new stations: Prospekt Slavy, Dunayskaya, Shushary, Begovaya, and Novokrestovskaya, the latter built specifically to offer convenient access to the stadium during the 
Saint Petersburg Metro map
Traffic jams are common in the city due to daily commuter traffic volumes, intercity traffic and excessive winter snow. The construction of freeways such as the Saint Petersburg Ring Road, completed in 2011, and the Western High-Speed Diameter, completed in 2017, helped reduce the traffic in the city. The controversial M11, also known as the Moscow-Saint Petersburg Motorway, would connect Saint Petersburg and Moscow by a freeway and is expected to be complete before the Russia FIFA World Cup 2018. Construction began in 2010 and the first sections of the freeway were finished in 2014 and 2015.
The average amount of time people spend commuting with public transit in Saint Petersburg, for example to and from work, on a weekday is 69 min. 19.6% of public transit riders, ride for more than 2 hours every day. The average amount of time people wait at a stop or station for public transit is 11 min, while 16.1% of riders wait for over 20 minutes on average every day. The average distance people usually ride in a single trip with public transit is 7 km, while 15.% travel for over 12 km in a single direction.
The Sapsan high-speed train runs between Moscow and Saint Petersburg
The city is the final destination for a web of intercity and suburban railways, served by five different railway terminals (Baltiysky, Finlyandsky, Ladozhsky, Moskovsky and Vitebsky),[c] as well as dozens of non-terminal railway stations within the federal subject. Saint Petersburg has international railway connections to Helsinki, Finland, Berlin, Germany and many former republics of the USSR. The Helsinki railway, built in 1870 and 443 kilometers (275 mi) long, has trains running five times a day, in a journey lasting about three and a half hours with the Allegro train.
In 2009 Russian Railways launched a high speed service for the Moscow–Saint Petersburg route. The new train, known as Sapsan, is a derivative of the popular Siemens Velaro train; various versions of this already operate in some European countries. It set records for the fastest train in Russia on 2 May 2009, travelling at 281 km/h (174.6 mph) and on 7 May 2009, traveling at 290 kilometers per hour (180 mph).
Since 12 December 2010 Karelian Trains, a joint venture between Russian Railways and VR (Finnish Railways), has been running Alstom Pendolino operated high-speed services between Saint Petersburg's Finlyandsky and Helsinki's Central railway stations. These services are branded as "Allegro" trains. "Allegro" is known for suffering some big technical problems from time to time, which sometimes result in significant delays and even cancel of tourists' trips.
Intercity and suburban rail terminals of Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is served by Pulkovo International Airport, and also by three smaller commercial and cargo airports in the suburbs. Lappeenranta Airport, which is near Saint Petersburg but on the Finnish side of the border is also popular among Russian travellers.
Pulkovo airport was opened to passengers as a small aerodrome in 1931. As of 2013, the Pulkovo airport, which handles over 12 million passengers annually, is the 3rd busiest in Russia after Moscow's Sheremetyevo and Domodedovo. As a result, the steadily increasing passenger traffic has triggered a massive modernization of the entire airport infrastructure. A newly built Terminal 1 of the Pulkovo airport was put into operation on 4 December 2013 and integrated international flights of the former terminal Pulkovo-2. The renovated terminal Pulkovo-1 has been opened for domestic flights as an extension of the Terminal 1 in 2015.
There is a regular rapid-bus connection (buses 39, 39E, K39) between Pulkovo airport and the Moskovskaya metro station as well as 24/7 taxi service.
Saint Petersburg is home to many parks and gardens. Some of the most well-known are in the southern suburbs, including Pavlovsk, one of Europe's largest English gardens. Sosnovka is the largest park within the city limits, occupying 240 ha. The Summer Garden is the oldest, dating back to the early 18th century and designed in the regular style. It is on the Neva's southern bank at the head of the Fontanka and is famous for its cast iron railing and marble sculptures.
In order to commemorate 300 years anniversary of Saint Petersburg a new park was laid out. The park is in the northwestern part of the city. The construction was started in 1995. It is planned to connect the park with the pedestrian bridge to the territory of Lakhta Center's recreation areas. In the park 300 trees of valuable sorts, 300 decorative apple-trees, 70 limes. 300 other trees and bushes were planted. These trees were presented to Saint Petersburg by non-commercial and educational organizations of the city, its sister-cities, city of Helsinki, heads of other regions of Russia, German Savings Bank and other people and organizations.
The crime dynamic in Saint Petersburg is tightly associated with the general social situation in the country. A sharp spike in the crime level occurred in the late 1980s/early 1990s as a result of the Perestroika-time turmoils (redistribution of property, privatization, decline of living standards, decrease of the effectiveness of militsiya etc.) By then the city had fallen under the control of a number of organized criminal groups such as Tambov Gang, Malyshev Gang, Kazan Gang and ethnic criminal groups, engaged in racket, extortion, paying off local government and violent clashes with each other.
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, Bandit Petersburg and Brother, reinforcing its image as the Crime Capital of Russia.
According to official sources the number of crimes committed by foreigners in Saint Petersburg in 2010 increased by 11.1%. Law enforcement authorities consider this was associated with an increased number of people from some CIS republics who live in Saint Petersburg illegally. On the other hand, some media reported that in recent years there had been a notable increase in racially motivated violence, in particular towards foreign students. One of the notable white supremacist groups, Belaya Energia (White Energy, inspired by US "White Power" groups) has reportedly been one of the gangs involved in murdering foreign university students.
The official portal of the Government of Saint Petersburg provided data on significant improvements in the crime situation. In particular, it was reported the number of crimes against tourists had fallen by more than half during 2009–2011.
In 2012, Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs warned LGBT travellers about a vaguely worded law in Saint Petersburg that came into effect on 17 March 2012, making it a criminal offence to publicize acts of male or female homosexuality, bisexuality, or transgenderism. The intention of the law is to protect minors. A Russian travel advisory on the Foreign Affairs website notes that while homosexuality is legal in Russia (it was decriminalized in 1993), LGBT Canadian travellers should avoid "displaying affection in public, as homosexuals can be targets of violence.... Public actions (including dissemination of information, statements, displays or conspicuous behaviour) contradicting or appearing to contradict this law may lead to arrest, prosecution and the imposition of a fine."
Milan and Venice were formerly twin cities of Saint Petersburg, but suspended this link due to St Petersburg's ban on "gay propaganda". Milan suspended the relationship with Saint Petersburg on 23 November 2012 and Venice did so on 28 January 2013.
^Президент Российской Федерации. Указ №849 от 13 мая 2000 г. «О полномочном представителе Президента Российской Федерации в федеральном округе». Вступил в силу 13 мая 2000 г. Опубликован: "Собрание законодательства РФ", No. 20, ст. 2112, 15 мая 2000 г. (President of the Russian Federation. Decree #849 of May 13, 2000 On the Plenipotentiary Representative of the President of the Russian Federation in a Federal District. Effective as of May 13, 2000.).
^Госстандарт Российской Федерации. №ОК 024-95 27 декабря 1995 г. «Общероссийский классификатор экономических регионов. 2. Экономические районы», в ред. Изменения №5/2001 ОКЭР. (Gosstandart of the Russian Federation. #OK 024-95 December 27, 1995 Russian Classification of Economic Regions. 2. Economic Regions, as amended by the Amendment #5/2001 OKER. ).
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