St Petersburg (Russian: Санкт-Петербург), the "Northern Capital of Russia," is the country's second largest city and is located on the River Neva close to the Gulf of Finland. During the Russian Revolution the Provisional Government renamed the city as Petrograd; the Soviets then seized power and renamed the city Leningrad after Lenin the leader of the Bolsheviks.
The city's inhabitants generally refer to it as "Petersburg" (without "Saint") or, commonly, simply "Peter".
Window on Europe
Czar Peter the Great created the city in 1703 as a "Window on Europe." From 1712 until 1918 St Petersburg was the imperial capital of Russia, the city facilitated Russia's expansion and modernisation. As a gateway to Western influence it attracted artists, scholars, scientists, soldiers and businessmen from all over Europe.
During World War Two the city was heavily damaged during the "Siege of Leningrad." The siege lasted for 900 days and caused the death of almost 700,000 people. Many people died of starvation as the city's supply of food and water was cut off. A large number of people were also directly killed by the attacking Germans.
Fall of communism
Since the fall of communism the city has regained its roll as a "Window on Europe." Despite the dislocation caused by the closure or privatisation of the Soviet economy; industry and commerce has returned to the city.
Culture and heritage
St. Petersburg is renowned for its many fine museums, palaces and churches; as well as its hundreds of bridges.
- See, for example, Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment