St. Petersburg was founded in 1703 by Peter the first. Today is considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. For this great merit has its picturesque location and spectacular urban architecture. The city was a capital of Russian Empire for more than 2 centuries. It is named after the holy Apostles Peter and Paul. With its numerous cultural monuments, museums, palaces, parks and canals, the city is a destination for tourists with good taste who seek spiritual growth and cultural enrichment. It is called “The North Venice” because in the world there are only three cities in which water plays such an important role and occupies such a large area of them – these are Venice, Sydney and of course St. Petersburg.
The names of St. Petersburg. In different historical stages St. Petersburg bore different names.
For example, in the period from 1914 to 1924, it was called Petrograd and in the years of the Soviet Union was called Leningrad in the name of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, who was one of the most influential figures stood at the head of the Soviet Union during the regime.
The city is affectionately known after its inhabitants simply as the Pieter.
Location of St. Petersburg. The city is located at 59° north latitude and 30° east longitude in the western parts of the vast Russian Federation.
Northeast of Petersburg is Lake Ladoga, which is the largest on the continent of Europe. Specific feature of the location of St. Petersburg is that it is located in the delta of the Neva River.
The location of the city is important for its development. It is one of the most favourable places in the country in terms of trade, because the Baltic Sea allows to Petersburg fast and cheap transport by sea to some of the richest countries in the world located in this region. St. Petersburg is the northernmost millionth city in the world.
Topography and scenery of St. Petersburg. The Pieter is located at an area with little altitude and flat terrain.
Specific feature of St. Petersburg is that, like other big and modern cities, it is situated on marshland. Similarly, large parts of Miami, Florida and Central Park, New York have built on marshlands.
Along with the arable lands around St. Petersburg, the city is surrounded also by beautiful forests.
Cool and humid climate stimulate the development of vegetation. The surrounding area are predominated mixed deciduous and coniferous forests.
Gulf of Finland and St. Petersburg. This not very deep gulf is the relationship between Russia and the Atlantic Ocean. It is quite cold and freezes between November and March.
However, during the short summer water can become relatively warm – up to more than 20 degrees.
However, the coast is not very popular place for sunbathing on the citizens, as beaches are few, not very large and the local busy port and its permanent traffic of ships and ferries is not very helpful to the reputation of local beaches.
Size of St. Petersburg. Today this vast city is spread on a much larger area than ever before. The old part of the Pieter today actually represents the city center, but in all parts of the city there are sprung many neighbourhoods built primarily with large and uniform buildings.
In its two most distant points St. Petersburg is more than 95 km. Because of rapidly growing population in 1955 has build a subway in Petersburg. Today it is the deepest trench subway in the world.
The reason is the peculiarities of the local terrain and the fact that Metro must go under the River Neva. Today it has 5 lines and they all intersect at the center of St. Petersburg.
Population of St. Petersburg. This is the second largest city in Russia. It has a population of nearly 5 million inhabitants.
It is considered to be one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the country because as an important scientific and economic center since the fall of the Iron Curtain Petersburg attracts many young and ambitious people from all around the world with its numerous high schools and increasing opportunities.
Climate of St. Petersburg. The city is located in the temperate climate zone, but the northern location and proximity of the Baltic Sea has left a deep imprint on it.
Here the only long season is the winter when Petersburg remains for a long time under very thick snow cover. Winter in St. Petersburg is legendary.
Many stories are told of the famous cold, chilling each year the most beautiful Russian city. Perhaps one of the most impressive stories is one that tells about the cold during the Second World War.
It is said that then the winter was so severe that the tanks has crossed the frozen waters of the River Neva. Here the climate is cooler than in Moscow, and dark days are much more than the Russian capital.
For example, summers here are short, cool and moist. Temperatures can reach about 22 – 23°C, of course there are wonderful days when the sun shining is abundant and temperatures can even reach 30 degrees.
June and July are the months with the most pleasant weather and with the highest temperatures. August is also warm, but rainfall increases and sunny days significantly reduce.
Autumn begins to be felt, despite the temperatures of 20°C. August is the month with the heaviest rainfall throughout the year. In September begins the autumn. Rainfall and temperatures decrease.
The temperature in this month rarely exceeds 15°C. In October, even during the day the thermometer shows less then 10°C and the weather is colder in comparison with the Mediterranean in January.
November is the first month with chilly daytime temperatures – between 0 and 2°C. November’s nights are very cold and this makes the Gulf of Finland and the River Neva begin to freeze.
December, January and February are the harshest and coldest months in the year, December is the darkest and gloomy, and January is the coldest. Average daily temperatures in December are between (-1) and (-5) °C, in January (-5) – (-10) °C.
After January mercury in thermometers began subtly to crawl up, but by the end of March weather remains quite frosty. April is the first spring month, which occurs after long and cold winters.
The average daily temperature for April is about 7 – 8°C and in May degrees very fast increase from 10°C in earlier May to about 20°C at the end of the month.
Because of the proximity of the Gulf the climate here is stable and there are no large daily temperature amplitudes.
For example, there is no month of the year in which night temperatures are more than 10°C lower than daily temperatures.
White nights in St. Petersburg. It is believed that these are the most beautiful days of the year. During this period, the days are sunniest and longest, and night practically does not occur.
The cause of the midnight light is the north geographical location of Petersburg and its proximity to the Arctic Circle.
Yet the city is not located beyond the Arctic Circle, so that the sun still hidden behind the horizon, but stay enough close to it to remain the night sky light.
St. Petersburg and the Neva River. Even if only 75 km long, Neva River is quite deep and serves as a busy thoroughfare of this bustling city.
It springs from Lake Ladoga and flow its waters in the Gulf of Finland. Just in the city center the river is divided into several branches, which form the face of the city and are the main reason for the fame of St. Petersburg as the “northern Venice”.
Indeed, Pieter (as Russians call it affectionately) quite reminiscent of the romantic Italian city. Numerous river channels and sleeves are reason to be built almost 350 bridges in the city of Peter the first.
The river is not normally navigable during the frost period of the year from November to April. After the end of March the ice melt faster because of the rising temperatures.
Economy of St. Petersburg. The city is quite developed. This is the second richest city in Russia after Moscow.
Although the economy of St. Petersburg is versatile, yet most of its revenues come from industry.
Petersburg has a more developed industry in comparison with Moscow, which is normally for a large coastal city. Second in importance is the service sector (tourism, medicine, education).
Many big names in history of science are linked to St. Petersburg. Here we should mention Dmitry Ivanovich Mendeleyev (the creator of the Periodic Table), who was a professor at St. Petersburg University and St. Petersburg Institute of Technology.
Tourism is also important for the local economy. Every year millions of tourists from all around the world flock here, attracted by the countless architectural landmarks.
Quality of life in St. Petersburg. Petersburg has a significantly higher quality of life compared to other Russian cities. Only Moscow is its serious competitor.
After the fall of communism here, like all other major cities in the former Soviet Union, the population has gone through many difficulties caused by the changing economic environment.
Today the Pieter is a city with great prospects. The population has been forgotten about those times when the people have roughly the same standard of living. Today there are distinct classes.
The number of well-off people rapidly grows because there are still many business niches that are not occupied. There is a strong middle class, whose purchasing power is rapidly increasing.
Unfortunately the dividing of the society after the fall of the regime has led to some negative traits such as increased crime caused by the formation of a new class of very poor people, with no proper education and which are not training to be competitive in a modern market economy.
Today, average income per capita is almost $ 700 per month, which is a pretty good standard of living for countries of Eastern Europe.
Along with the advantages of living in one of the most promising and rapidly developing Russian cities, however, there are also many drawbacks.
The local population often suffers from massive depression and other milder forms of depression. The reason for this is dark and cold weather in much of the year, and lack of sunlight.
It is believed that because of this reason many people reach for antidepressants and alcohol. Popular way to escape of winter depression in St. Petersburg is going to the solarium.
It is practised long time ago in Scandinavia, but in the last few years became a part of the everyday life and to the people of the Pieter.
Tourism in St. Petersburg
Here is what a young man told to the team of TouristMaker about his first trip to St. Petersburg:
“For the first time I travelled to St. Petersburg in early November. It was nearly time to land but the city has not shown by the thick gray clouds.
We landed at the airport and the first thing I noticed was how cold it is. It was still an autumn, but the air temperature was about zero.
I stayed in the city for two weeks and for this period the sun did not appear even once. The sky was constantly covered with low and gray clouds, through which the light barely filtered.
Perhaps because of the grey sky and cold weather the people on the streets I saw was pretty busy, serious and thoughtful. And the city ….. it was just the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen.
You can not imagine how impressive, “heavy” and noble the local architecture is! A real masterpiece under the open sky!
Palaces, museums, squares, fountains and everything else has built with so much taste and attention to the details! All it could miss a man in a city like this is the sun.
I saw it for the first time when the plane left the airport and again rose above the clouds. Two weeks in St. Petersburg were enough for me to decide that I want for sure to visit again and explore this fascinating city! ”
Sights of St. Petersburg
Much of central part of St. Petersburg is part of the list of World Heritage by UNESCO. The old part of the city is a work of architects from across Europe, including France and Italy. There are three elements that describe the Pieter best – palaces, canals and cathedrals.
– Hermitage. Completed in 1764, the Hermitage is the largest landmark and symbol of St. Petersburg. It was built by order of Empress Catherine the Great. The Hermitage is also known as the Winter Palace.
At those times French was the salon language – it was a matter of aristocracy, prestige and high culture, if someone speaks French. Not accidentally, and the name of Hermitage comes from French and means “place of solitude.”
The name was chosen deliberately. Exactly what was the purpose of the Hermitage – to create a place where the empress to enjoy its solitude and left alone with herself.
Today the Hermitage is a museum. It is one of the best in the world and with certainly the most attractive, with regard to its architecture.
– Savior of the blood. This is the most beautiful and famous cathedral in the Pieter and if you visit St. Petersburg in any case not miss it!
With its brick-coloured façade and multicoloured doom it is one of the most famous structures in the city after the Hermitage.
It proudly overlooks the ancient skyline of St. Petersburg and instantly grabs the look of visitors. It was built all 24 years – from 1883 to 1907.
– The statue of Peter the first. It was founded in 1782 by order of Empress Catherine the Great in honour of Peter 1st. The statue depicts him riding a horse.
This monument is often called by the tourists and local people simply “the bronze horseman”. Rider is located amidst a small garden next to the River Neva.
– Cathedral of St. Isaac. It is located next to the place where is located the monument of Peter the first. It is very beautiful, and the dome is covered with gold. It is finished in 1858 and is work of the French architect August Montferrand. Its construction lasted about 40 years!
– Nevsky Prospect. For St Petersburg Nevsky Prospect is the same as Champs Elysees to Paris, Fifth Avenue to New York, Rodeo Drive to Los Angeles or La Rambla to Barcelona. This is one of the most expensive streets in Russia.
Here are the most expensive shops and, of course, offices. The length of the street is about 4 kilometers and 400 meters. It stretches between the Admiralty and the Alexander Nevski Square.
– Stroganov Palace. Located on Nevsky Prospect, it is one of the most interesting parts of St. Petersburg, Stroganov Palace is also an work of the great Italian architect Rastreli, like other major attractions such as the Winter Palace for example.
Indeed the Italian imprint is felt in many buildings in St. Petersburg, and in this including. The palace was completed in 1754. Today this building houses the State Russian Museum.
– Museum Kuntskamera. This is the oldest museum in the Pieter. It was founded by Peter the first. Here you can learn more about the life and lifestyle of different nations in the world.
Furthermore, there is a special room where you could see the startling anomalies – exhibits of people having terrible disabilities. Once every visitor of Kuntskamera received a glass of vodka.
– Petrodvorets. This is one of the most beautiful places in St. Petersburg, which ironically is located outside the city. You will be impressed the by the opulence and extravagance that will surround you here.
Splendid fountains with golden statues (so-called fountains Peterhov), magnificent gardens with vibrant flowers, lovely walks and the crown jewel the Petrodvorets, which beauty and grandeur can hardly be compared to something else.
– The Fortress Shliselburg. Located near the place where deep river Neva flow its waters into the Gulf of Finland, there is an impressive fortress Shliselburg – a structure with stone walls which are over 2 meters thick. It was used as a jail for political prisoners, including one king.
– Smolny Sobor is a cathedral in St. Petersburg, built by order of Catherine the Great. The original idea of the great Empress was to build a monastery.
Today the building has attracted many tourists, although as a cathedral. Blue and white facade and regal broadcast turned it into one of the most popular cathedrals in Europe. It rises proudly on its present site by 1865.
– Trinity Cathedral is one of the most original in St Petersburg. The facade is white, and the domes are painted in blue and studded with golden stars, reminding for the night sky.
Cathedral is a masterpiece of neoclassicism. In 2006 it suffered seriously from fire during reconstructions, but today everything is restored.
– Rabbit Island. You can find it among the River Neva. Here is a pleasant place for walking and sightseeing.
On this small island you will find both Petropavlovski fortress and remarkable cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, which is difficult to remain unnoticed, given that its needle-like peak seems to be stuck into the sky.
From Rabbit Island reveals beautiful views of the old buildings of St. Petersburg located on the opposite bank.
– Palace Square. This is one of the most majestic places in St. Petersburg. It is strongly reminiscent to some of the squares in Rome.
This is the place where every year during the Christmas holidays you can find one of the largest and most beautiful Christmas trees in Russia. In the center of Palace Square stands the Alexander Column, high approximately 47 meters.
– Blue Bridge. While passing over a relatively narrow channel of the River Neva, The Blue Bridge is considered to be one of the widest bridges in the world.
It is the main link between the Mariinsky Palace and the Isaak Cathedral. It is created for both vehicles and for pedestrians.
– Aqua Park Votervil. In the center of Petersburg, near by the Pribaltiyskaya hotel is located Votervil Aqua Park. It is a great solution for locals and tourists who want a little water fun.
This is particularly interesting place in the winter months, because while the outside temperature is several tens of degrees below zero, here into the Aqua park is about 30°C.
And what better from bit of heat and swim in the heated pool during the cold and dark winter days in St. Petersburg?
Petersburg and its culture. St. Peterbur is a city with an impressive cultural background. As a founder of the city Peter the Great (the first) became obsessed with the idea to turn St. Petersburg into a city like Venice.
For the construction of many buildings were invited French and especially Italian architects. So if you during walk through the streets of the Pieter feel the Italian atmosphere – you are absolutely right.
It really is. Perhaps the most influential on the features of the city is the Italian architect Rastreli who has perhaps the greatest merit for the masterpiece which is Petersburg today.
Rastreli for Petersburg is what was to Barcelona Antoni Gaudí. Here is perhaps the most significant center of Russian culture as the city is culturally richer even than Moscow.
We could give you an example with the literature. The largest Russian names like Dostoyevsky, Pushkin and Gogol lived and worked in St. Petersburg. This is not accidental.
If you have had the pleasure to visit more places around the world there is no way not to have noticed that there are cities that inspire and encourage the creative work of a man.
Here we can give an example with New York, Paris or Venice. They somehow unleash the creative spirit of man. With St. Petersburg is the same.
Old solid buildings with its regal broadcast channels crossing the city (some natural and other – no), dozens of museums, cathedrals and palaces can help to unleash the imagination.
And here it is today. In the 21st century Petersburg is a modern city, but walking down its streets you can imagine what the people heard, seen and felt when they have walked through the streets a few centuries earlier.
Although it looks very old and dignified, St. Petersburg can be also very fashionable.
What clothes to wear when we travel to St. Peterburt? If you chose “North Venice” for your next vacation, it is better to prepare warmer clothes.
In the period from November to late March is really cold and is too likely to have not so warm clothing as it would require your stay in St. Petersburg.
For April you have to wear winter clothes, but know this part of the year is not as cold as it was in recent months. In May, September and October is good to have warm clothes, although not too warm.
One not very thick jacket would be adequate for these months of the year. In June, July and August, wear your summer clothes with short sleeves, but do not forget to put in your luggage and some jacket and/or an anorak – most likely you will need some time to use them.
Do not forget your umbrella – the summer in St. Petersburg is quite humid.
How to get to St. Petersburg? The Pieter is very large city and offers a wide variety of options for the transport for tourists.
Here is one of the biggest and loaded Russian airports – the international airport Pulkovo. It is located in the southernmost parts of the city. Besides with plane you can reach to the Pieter also by train, from other Russian cities and abroad.
From many European countries you can buy tickets for the train to St. Petersburg. The railway transport is a cheaper in comparison with the air transport. For this purpose, of course, you need to take and more time.
Buses are also an option although the remoteness of Petersburg from most European capitals makes buses less popular than plains or trains.
Here we should mention that in the Baltic Sea ferries are pretty good alternative for a comfortable and interesting journey. By ferry you can get to St. Petersburg from most of the major Baltic cities.