On 12 1703 May, during the Great Northern War, Peter the Great captured the Swedish fortress of Nyenskans on the Neva river in Ingria. On 27 1703 May closer to the estuary (5 km/3 miles 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.
The city was built by conscripted peasants from all over Russia; a certain part of Swedish prisoners of war were also involved in some years under the supervision of Alexander Menshikov. Tens of thousands of serfs died building the city. Later the city became the centre of 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.
During the first few years of its existence the city grew spontaneously around Trinity Square on the right bank of the Neva, near the Peter and Paul Fortress. However, Saint Petersburg soon started to develop according to a plan. By 1716 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 still evident in the layout of the streets. In 1716 Jean-Baptiste Alexandre Le Blond was appointed chief architect of Saint Petersburg by Peter the Great.
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 age 52. His push for modernisation of Russia had met opposition from the old-fashioned Russian nobility — resulting in several attempts on his life and a treason case involving his own son. Thus, 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 again became the capital of the Russian Empire and remained the seat of the Romanov Dynasty and the Imperial Court of the Russian Tzars, 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 new plan was commissioned in 1737 by a committee under Burkhard Christoph von Munnich. The city was divided into five boroughs, and the city centre was moved to the Admiralty borough, situated on the east bank between the Neva and Fontanka.
It developed along three radial streets, which meet at the Admiralty building and are now known as Nevsky Prospekt (which is now perceived as the main street of the city), Gorokhovaya Street and Voznesensky Prospekt. The style of Baroque dominated the city architecture during the first sixty years, culminating in the Elizabethan Baroque, represented most notably by Bartolomeo Rastrelli with such buildings as the Winter Palace. In the 1760s the Baroque architecture was succeeded by the neoclassical architecture.
The Commission of Stone Buildings of Moscow and Saint Petersburg established in 1762 ruled that no structure in the city 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 wasn't until 1850 that it was allowed to open the first permanent bridge across the Neva, Blagoveshchensky Bridge. Before that, only pontoon bridges were allowed. Obvodny Canal (dug in 1769-1833) became the southern limit of the city.
Among the most prominent neoclassical architects in Saint Petersburg (including those working within the Empire style) were Jean-Baptiste Vallin de la Mothe (Imperial Academy of Arts, Small Hermitage, Gostiny Dvor, New Holland Arch, Catholic Church of St. Catherine), Antonio Rinaldi (Marble Palace), Yury Felten (Old Hermitage, Chesme Church), Giacomo Quarenghi (Academy of Sciences, Hermitage Theatre, Yusupov Palace), Andrey Voronikhin (Mining Institute, Kazan Cathedral), Andreyan Zakharov (Admiralty building), Jean-François Thomas de Thomon (Spit of Vasilievsky Island), Carlo Rossi (Yelagin Palace, Mikhailovsky Palace, Alexandrine Theatre, Senate and Synod Buildings, General Staff Building, design of many streets and squares), Vasily Stasov (Moscow Triumphal Gate, Trinity Cathedral), and Auguste de Montferrand (Saint Isaac's Cathedral, Alexander Column). The victory over Napoleonic France in the Patriotic War of 1812 was commemorated with many monuments, including Alexander Column by Montferrand, erected in 1834, and Narva Triumphal Gate.
In 1825 the suppressed Decembrist revolt against Nicholas I of Russia took place on the Senate Square in the city, a day after he assumed the throne.
By the 1840s the neoclassical architecture had given place to various romanticist styles which were dominant until the 1890s, represented by such architects as Andrei Stackenschneider (Mariinsky Palace, Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace, Nicholas Palace, New Michael Palace) and Konstantin Thon (Moskovsky Rail Terminal).
With the emancipation of the peasants undertaken by Alexander II in 1861 and the 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 and grew into 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 mirrored by the names of the first two assassinated Russian Emperors, Peter III (1762, supposedly a conspiracy led by his wife, Catherine) 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 of narodniki (see the Church of the Savior on Blood).
In March 1917, during the February Revolution Nicholas II abdicated for himself and his son, thus putting an end to the Russian monarchy.
The October Revolution which ultimately brought Vladimir Lenin to power, broke out in Petrograd on November 7–8, 1917 (months mismatch due to Julian/Gregorian calendar differences). After that the city acquired a new descriptive name, "the city of three revolutions" which recalls the fact that all these three major developments in the political history of Russia of the early 20th century occurred here.
By March 1918 German troops invaded the Governorate of Estonia (now a part of Estonia) thus threatening Petrograd with bombardment and invasion, while the anti-Soviet troops which were forming there were aimed at taking the capital as well. Thus on March 12, 1918, the Soviets were forced to transfer the government to Moscow. During the ensuing Civil War in 1919 general Yudenich advancing from Estonia repeated the attempt to capture the city, but Leon Trotsky mobilised the army and made him retreat.
On January 26, 1924, three 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, as well as cruiser Aurora – a symbol of the October Revolution and the oldest ship in the Russian Navy.
In the 1920s-1930s the poor outskirts were reconstructed into regularly planned boroughs. The constructivist architecture flourished around that time. The housing was nationalized, yet many 'bourgeois' apartments were too large, so many people who previously lived in slums now had to share these 'communal' apartments (kommunalkas) where by 1930s 68% of the population lived. In 1935 a new general plan was outlined, whereby the city should expand to the south. The constructivism was rejected in favor of the pompous Stalinist architecture. Moving the city center farther from a border of Finland, Stalin adopted the plan to build the new city hall with a huge adjacent square at the southern end of Moskovsky Prospect which could thereby become a new main street of Leningrad. However, after the war the Soviet-Finnish border was moved to the north, and Nevsky Prospect with the Palace Square preserved the functions and the role of a city center.
In December 1931 Leningrad was administratively separated from Leningrad Oblast. At that time it included 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 December 1, 1934, Sergey Kirov, popular communist leader of Leningrad, was assassinated, which was used to start the Great Purge.
During World War II, Leningrad was besieged by Nazi Germany. The siege lasted 872 days from September 1941 to January 1944. The Siege of Leningrad was one of the longest, most destructive, and most lethal sieges of major cities in modern history. It isolated the city from most supplies except those provided through the Road of Life across Lake Ladoga, and more than a million civilians died, mainly from starvation. Many others were eventually evacuated or escaped by themselves, so the city became largely depopulated.
On May 1, 1945, Joseph Stalin in his Supreme Commander Order #20 named Leningrad, alongside with Stalingrad, Sevastopol, and Odessa in a scope of hero cities of the war. However, the statute of the honorary title 'Hero City' was officially adopted only during Leonid Brezhnev's rule, on May 8, 1965 (the 20th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War). On that day 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 even later.
In October 1946 some territories along the northern coast of the Gulf of Finland which passed to USSR from Finland in 1940 under the peace treaty after the Winter War were transferred from Leningrad Oblast to Leningrad and divided into Sestroretsky District and Kurortny District, including the town of Terijoki (renamed Zelenogorsk in 1948). Leningrad and many of its suburbs were rebuilt over the post-war decades, partially according to the pre-war plans. The 1948 general plan of Leningrad featured radial urban development in the north as well as in the south. In 1953 Pavlovsky District of 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.
Leningrad gave its name to the Leningrad Affair (1949–1952), a notable event in the postwar political processes in the USSR. A product of clan rivalries (where one side was represented by the leaders of the city Communist Party organization – one of the most significant in the country), it afflicted only an elite circle, so the victims of this affair were comparatively few. 23 leaders were sentenced to death, 181 to prison or exile (exonerated in 1954). About 2 thousand were expelled from the party and Komsomol and removed from leadership positions.
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, the perceived ornamental excesses of the Stalinist architecture were abandoned. In the 1960s-1980s, as many new residential boroughs were built on the outskirts with few series of functionalist apartment blocks identical to each other, many families moved there from kommunalkas in the city centre in order to live in separate apartments.
On June 12, 1991, simultaneously with the first Russian presidential elections the city authorities arranged the mayoral elections and the 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 democratically elected mayor of the city. Meanwhile the economy conditions continued to deteriorate. For the first time since 1940s the food rationing was introduced, and the city received humanitarian food aid from abroad. In 1995 a northern section of the Kirovsko-Vyborgskaya Line of the Saint Petersburg Metro was cut off by underground flooding, thus creating a major obstacle to the city development for almost ten years.
In 1996 Anatoliy Sobchak was defeated by Vladimir Yakovlev in the elections of the head of the city administration. The title of the city head was changed from "mayor" to "governor". In 2000 Yakovlev was reelected again. His second term expired in 2004; the long-awaited restoration of broken subway connection was expected to finish by that time. However in 2003 Yakovlev suddenly resigned, leaving a governor's office to Valentina Matviyenko.
After that the law on the City Governor was changed, breaking the tradition of its democratic election by a universal suffrage, and in 2006 Matvienko was reapproved as governor by the city legislature. The residential building had intensified again, real estate prices inflated greatly which caused many new problems for the preserving of the historical part of the city.
Although the central part of the city is watched by UNESCO (there are about 8000 architectural monuments in Petersburg), the safety of its historical and architectural environment became disputable since after 2005 the demolition of older buildings in the historical centre went into practice. In 2006 Gazprom announced an ambitious project to erect a 396-meter skyscraper opposite to Smolny, which could result in irretrievable loss of the unique line of Petersburg landscape. Urgent protests of citizen and prominent public figures of Russia against this project were not considered by Governor Valentina Matvienko and the city authorities until December 2010, when after the statement of President Dmitry Medvedev it was finally decided to find a more appropriate location for this construction site.
The area of Saint Petersburg city proper is 605.8 km . The area of the federal subject is 1,439 km (556 sq mi), which contains Saint Petersburg proper (consisting of eighty-one okrugs), nine municipal towns – (Kolpino, Krasnoye Selo, Kronstadt, Lomonosov, Pavlovsk, Petergof, Pushkin, Sestroretsk, Zelenogorsk) – and twenty-one municipal settlements.
Petersburg is situated on the middle taiga lowlands along the shores of the Neva Bay of the Gulf of Finland, and islands of the river delta. The largest are Vasilyevsky Island (besides the artificial island between Obvodny canal and Fontanka, and Kotlin in the Neva Bay), Petrogradsky, Dekabristov and Krestovsky. The latter together with Yelagin and Kamenny island are covered mostly by parks. The Karelian Isthmus, North of the city, is a popular resort area. In the south Saint Petersburg crosses the Baltic-Ladoga Klint and meets the Izhora Plateau.
Since the 18th century the terrain in the city 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 location at ca. 60° N latitude the day length in Petersburg varies across seasons, ranging from 5:53 to 18:50. A period from mid-May to mid-July when twilight may last all night is called the white nights.
By Köppen climate classification Petersburg is classified as Dfb, a humid continental climate of the cool summer subtype. Distinct moderating influence of the Baltic Sea cyclones result in warm, humid and short summers and long, cold winters.
To the tourist, Saint Petersburg appears gray and rainy most of the time, it is interrupted with warm sunny days as well. The climate can be compared to that of the states in the Mid-Atlantic. Specific cities such as Pittsburgh, Pa, Columbus, Oh, Philadelphia, Pa. Despite the common assumption, the summers get hot in St. Petersburg and warm weather clothing is essential. Rain boots should also be considered if one is planning a visit.
Average annual precipitation varies across the city, averaging 600 mm (24 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, while overcast is 165 days a year on average.
The first and fairly rich chapter of the history of the local toponymy is the story of the own name of the city itself. The name day of Peter I falls on June, 29 when the Russian Orthodox Church observes the memory of Saint Apostles Peter and Paul. The consecration of the small wooden church in their names (its construction began simultaneously with the citadel) made them the heavenly patrons of the Peter and Paul Fortress, while St. Peter at the same time became the eponym of the whole city.
Explanation of "Sankt-" by the appreciation of Dutch culture by Peter the Great is one of common misconceptions: "Saint-" in Dutch is "Sint". The sample which czar Peter followed sounds in the names of another European cities: Sankt Goar in Germany, Sankt Michael in Austria and some others, of which the closest to Sankt Petersburg was Sankt Michel in rival Swedish Empire (now Mikkeli in Finland). "Sankt-" in these toponyms is merely a Germanized form of Latin: Sanctus.
A 14-15-letter long name, composed of the three roots proved too cumbersome, and a lot of shortened versions appeared in habitual use. 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: Πετροπόλης (Petropolis, Петрополис) in a russified form Petropol’ (Петрополь). A combo Piterpol (Питерпол) also appears at this time. Anyway, eventually the usage of prefix "Sankt-" ceased except for the formal official documents, where a 3-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 1914, after the war with Germany had began, did tzar Nicholas II rename 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.
After the October Revolution, and until the city was renamed Leningrad in January 1924, the name Красный Петроград (Red Petrograd) was often used in newspapers and other prints.
In the referendum on reversing the renaming of Leningrad on June 12, 1991, renaming it to Petrograd was not an option. Because of this only 54.86% of the voters (with a turnout of 65%) supported "St.Petersburg". This change officially took effect on September 6, 1991. Meanwhile the oblast which administrative center is also in Petersburg is still named Leningradskaya.
Having passed the role of capital to Petersburg, Moscow has never succumbed the title of 'capital', being called "pervoprestolnaya" ("first-throned") for 200 years. A mirroring name for Petersburg in this connotation, the "Northern Capital", is reintroduced today in the sense that several federal institutions were moved from Moscow to Petersburg recently. Solemn descriptive names like "the city of three revolutions" and "the cradle of the October revolution" used in Soviet era reminded the pivot events of national history which 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 which had been forcibly made obligatory for construction from the very first years of the city.
After 1991 a wave of re-namings started within the city. It affected not only toponyms of the Soviet era, but in some cases their pre-revolutionary ones (in 1993 Gogol Street which bore the name of Nikolai Gogol since 1902, was renamed to Malaya Morskaya).
Saint Petersburg is the second largest city in Russia. Per the preliminary results of the 2010 Census, the city's population is 4,848,700, or 3.39% of the total population of Russia; up from 4,661,219 (3.21%) recorded in the 2002 census. The 2002 census recorded twenty-two ethnic groups of more than two thousand persons each. The ethnic composition was: Russian 84.72%, Ukrainian 1.87%, Belarusians 1.17%, Jewish 0.78%, Tatar 0.76%, Armenian 0.41%, Azeri 0.36%, Georgian 0.22%, Chuvash 0.13%, Polish 0.10%, and many other smaller ethnic groups, while 7.89% of the inhabitants declined to state their ethnicity.
The 20th century saw hectic ups and downs in population. From 2.4 million in 1916 it had 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 during the Siege of Leningrad, or were evacuated. After the siege, some of the evacuees returned, 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 the current 4.6 million, while the suburban population increased due to privatization of land and massive move to suburbs. The birth rate remains lower than the death rate; people over 65 constitute more than twenty percent of the population; and the median age is about 40 years.
People in urban Saint Petersburg live 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. For the first half of 2007, the birth rate was 9.1 per 1000.
Saint Petersburg is a federal subject of Russia. The political life of Saint Petersburg is regulated by the city charter adopted by the city legislature in 1998. The superior executive body is the Saint Petersburg City Administration, led by the governor (mayor before 1996). Saint Petersburg has a single-chamber legislature, the Saint Petersburg Legislative Assembly.
According to the federal law passed in 2004, heads of federal subjects, including the governor of Saint Petersburg, are nominated by the President of Russia and approved by local legislatures. If the legislature disapproves the nominee, it is dissolved. The current governor, Valentina Matviyenko, was approved according to the new system in December 2006. She is currently the only woman governor in the whole of Russia.
Saint Petersburg city is currently divided into eighteen districts. Saint Petersburg is also the administrative centre of Leningrad Oblast, and of the Northwestern Federal District. The Constitutional Court of Russia moved to Saint Petersburg from Moscow in May 2008.
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.
Saint Petersburg is a major trade gateway, financial and industrial centre of Russia specialising in oil and gas trade, shipbuilding yards, aerospace industry, radio and 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, 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), Lessner; founded by machine tool and boiler maker G. A. Lessner in 1904, with designs by Boris Loutsky, it survived until 1910.
10% of the world's power turbines are made there at the LMZ, which built over two thousand turbines for power plants across the world. Major local industries are Admiralty Shipyard, Baltic Shipyard, LOMO, Kirov Plant, Elektrosila, Izhorskiye Zavody; also registered in Saint Petersburg are Sovkomflot, Petersburg Fuel Company and SIBUR among other major Russian and international companies.
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 were 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 are now gracing public parks of Saint Petersburg, as well as many other cities. Monuments and bronze statues of the Czars, 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, Pavel Antokolsky, and others, were made there.
In 2007 Toyota opened a Camry plant after investing 5 billion dollars in Shushary, one of the southern suburbs of Saint Petersburg. Opel, Hyundai and Nissan have signed deals with the Russian government to build their automotive plants in Saint Petersburg too. Automotive and auto-parts industry is on the rise there during the last decade.
Saint Petersburg is the location of a significant brewery and distillery industry. It is known as the "beer capital" of Russia, due to the supply and quality of local water, contributing over 30% of the domestic production of beer with its five large-scale breweries including 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 has a lot of local distilleries which 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 square meters, 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 179.9 billion rubles (about 6.651 billion USDollars at 2006 exchange rates), and is planned to double by 2012. The federal subject's gross regional product as of 2005 was 667.905 billion Russian rubles (about 23.611 billion USDollars at 2005 exchange rates), ranked 4th in Russia, after Moscow, Tyumen Oblast, and Moscow Oblast, or 145,503.3 rubles per capita (about 5,143.6 USDollars at 2005 exchange rates), 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 USDollars at 2009 exchange rates), expenses - 336.3 billion rubles (about 11.477 billion USDollars at 2009 exchange rates). The budget deficit amounted to about 42 billion rubles. (about 1.433 billion USDollars at 2009 exchange rates)
Saint Petersburg has no skyscrapers and a relatively low skyline. Current regulations forbid construction of high buildings in the city centre. The 310-metre (1,020 ft) tall Saint Petersburg TV Tower is the tallest structure in the city, while the 122.5 m (401.90 ft) Peter and Paul Cathedral is by far the highest building. However, there is a controversial project endorsed by the city authorities and known as the Ohkta Centre to build a 396 m (1,299.21 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.
Unlike in Moscow, in Saint Petersburg the historic architecture of the city centre, mostly consisting of Baroque and neoclassical buildings of the 18th and 19th centuries, has been largely preserved; although a number of buildings were demolished after the Bolsheviks' seizure of power, during the Siege of Leningrad and in recent years. The oldest of the remaining building is a wooden house built for Peter I in 1703 on the shore of the Neva near Trinity Square. Since 1991 the Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments in Saint Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast have been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
The ensemble of Peter and Paul Fortress with the Peter and Paul Cathedral takes a dominant position on Zayachy Island along the right bank of the River Neva. Each noon a cannon fires a blank shot from the fortress. The Saint Petersburg Mosque, the largest mosque in Europe when opened in 1913, is situated on the right bank nearby. The Spit of Vasilievsky Island, which splits the river into two largest armlets, the Bolshaya Neva and Malaya Neva, is connected to the northern bank (Petrogradsky Island) via the Exchange Bridge and occupied by the Old Saint Petersburg Stock Exchange and Rostral Columns. The southern coast of Vasilyevsky Island along the Bolshaya Neva features some of the city's oldest buildings, dating from the 18th century, including the Kunstkamera, Twelve Collegia, Menshikov Palace and Imperial Academy of Arts. It hosts one of two campuses of Saint Petersburg State University.
On the southern, left bank of the Neva, connected to the spit of Vasilyevsky Island via the Palace Bridge, lie the Admiralty building, the vast Hermitage Museum complex stretching along the Palace Embankment, which includes the baroque Winter Palace, former official residence of Russian emperors, as well as the neoclassical Marble Palace. The Winter Palace faces Palace Square, the city's main square with the Alexander Column.
Nevsky Prospekt, also situated on the left bank of the Neva, is the main avenue in the city. It starts at the Admiralty and runs eastwards next to Palace Square. Nevsky Prospekt crosses the Moika (Green Bridge), Griboyedov Canal (Kazansky Bridge), Garden Street, the Fontanka (Anichkov Bridge), meets Liteyny Prospekt and proceeds to Uprising Square near the Moskovsky railway station, where it meets Ligovsky Prospekt and turns to the Alexander Nevsky Lavra. The Passage, Catholic Church of St. Catherine, Book House (former Singer Manufacturing Company Building in the Art Nouveau style), Grand Hotel Europe, Lutheran Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Great Gostiny Dvor, Russian National Library, Alexandrine Theatre behind Mikeshin's statue of Catherine the Great, Kazan Cathedral, Stroganov Palace, Anichkov Palace and Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace are all situated along that avenue.
The Alexander Nevsky Lavra, intended to house the relics of St. Alexander Nevsky, is an important centre of Christian education in Russia. It also contains the Tikhvin Cemetery with graves of many notable Petersburgers.
On the territory between the Neva and Nevsky Prospekt the Church of the Savior on Blood, Mikhailovsky Palace housing the Russian Museum, Field of Mars, St. Michael's Castle, Summer Garden, Tauride Palace, Smolny Institute and Smolny Convent are located.
Many notable landmarks are situated to the west and south of the Admiralty Building, including the Trinity Cathedral, Mariinsky Palace, Hotel Astoria, famous Mariinsky Theatre, New Holland Island, Saint Isaac's Cathedral, the largest in the city, and Senate Square, also known as Decemberist's Square with the Bronze Horseman, 18th century equestrian monument to Peter the Great, which is considered among the city's most recognisable symbols.
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 wasn't until 2004 that the first high bridge across the Neva, which doesn't need to be drawn, Big Obukhovsky Bridge, was opened. There are hundreds of smaller bridges in Saint Petersburg spanning across 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 iron parapets.
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 contains a domed palace of Emperor Paul and one of the largest English-style parks in Europe. Some other residences situated 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 restroration 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.
Some of these structures, such as the Saint Petersburg Commodity and Stock Exchange have been recognised as town-planning errors.
Saint Petersburg is home to more than two hundred museums, many of them hosted in historic buildings. The largest of the museums is the Hermitage Museum, featuring interiors of the former imperial residence and a vast collection of art. The Russian Museum is a large museum devoted to the Russian fine art specifically. The apartments of some famous Petersburgers, including Alexander Pushkin, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Feodor Chaliapin, Alexander Blok, Vladimir Nabokov, Anna Akhmatova, Mikhail Zoshchenko, Joseph Brodsky, as well as some palace and park ensembles of the southern suburbs and notable architectural monuments such as St. Isaac's Cathedral, have also been turned into public museums.
The Kunstkamera, with its collection established in 1714 by Peter the Great to collect curiosities from all over the world, is sometimes considered the first museum in Russia, which has evolved into the present-day Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography. The Russian Ethnography Museum, which has been split from the Russian Museum, is devoted to the cultures of the people of Russia, the former Soviet Union and Russian Empire.
Other notable museums include the Central Naval Museum hosted in the building of the former stock exchange and Zoological Museum, the Railway Museum, Museum of the Siege of Leningrad, Museum of contemporary art Erarta, Saint Petersburg Museum of History in the Peter and Paul Fortress and Artillery Museum, which in fact includes not only artillery items, but also a huge collection of other military equipment, uniform and decorations.
Saint Petersburg is home to numerous parks and gardens, some of the most famous of which are situated in the southern suburbs, including one of the largest English gardens of Europe in Pavlovsk. Sosnovka is the largest park within the limits of the city proper, occupying 240 ha. The Summer Garden is the oldest one, dating back to the early 18th century and designed in the regular style. It is situated on the southern bank of the Neva at the head of the Fontanka and is famous for its cast iron railing and marble sculptures.
Among other notable parks are the Maritime Victory Park on Krestovsky Island and the Moscow Victory Park in the south, both commemorating the victory over Nazi Germany in the Second World War, as well as the Central Park of Culture and Leisure occupying Yelagin Island and the Tauride Garden around the Tauride Palace. The most common trees grown in the parks are the English oak, Norway maple, green ash, silver birch, Siberian larch, blue spruce, crack willow, limes and poplars. Important dendrological collections dating back to the 19th century are hosted by the Saint Petersburg Botanical Garden and the Park of the Forestry Academy.
Saint Petersburg has significant historical and cultural heritage and is thus a highly attractive tourist destination.
The 18-19 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 centers of Europe), Saint Petersburg has now become a unique nature reserve of European architectural styles of the past three centuries. Saint Petersburg's loss of capital city status, significantly helped the city in retaining many pre-revolutionary buildings, as modern architectural 'prestige projects' tended to be built in Moscow; this largely prevented the rise of mid to late of 20th century architecture in the city and helped maintain the architectural appearance of the historic center.
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 theaters, 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 90s not a single major theatre or museum has been closed in Saint Petersburg; on the contrary many new ones have 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 State 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 F. M. Dostoevsky; 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 deservedly named as one of the best in the world. Traditions of the Russian classical school have been passed down from generation to generation amongst 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's, who expanded the scope of strict classical Russian ballet to almost unimaginable limits. Remaining faithful to the classical basis (he was a choreographer in Vaganova Academy of Dance), he combined classical ballet with the avant-garde style, and them, in turn, with acrobatics, rhythmic gymnastics, dramatic expressiveness, cinema, color, light, and finally with spoken word.
With a packed cultural program and a large number of world heritage sites, as well as a developing tourist infrastructure, Saint Petersburg has started to enter into the number of the world's leading centers of culture and tourism.
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 continued to develop and keep pace with the growth of the city. 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 a number of 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 a number of federal highways and national and international rail routes. Pulkovo International Airport serves the majority of air passengers departing from or arriving to the city.
Today, the city is the final destination of a web of intercity and suburban railways, served by five different railway terminals (Baltiysky, Finlyandsky, Ladozhsky, Moskovsky, and Vitebsky), 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 all former republics of the USSR. The Helsinki railway was built in 1870, 443 km (275 mi), commutes three times a day, in a journey lasting about three and a half hours with the new Allegro train.
The Moscow-Saint Petersburg Railway opened in 1851, 651 km (405 mi); the commute to Moscow now requires from three and a half to nine hours.
In 2009 Russian Railways launched a high speed service on the Moscow-Saint Petersburg route. The new train, known as Sapsan, is a deriative of the popular Siemens Velaro train; various versions of which are already in service in a number of European countries. It set records for the fastest train in Russia on May 2, 2009, travelling at 281 km/h and on May 7, 2009, travelling at 290 km/h (180 mph).
Since December 12, 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.
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 transport; in the 1980s, Leningrad had the largest tramway network in the world, but many tramway rail tracks were dismantled in the 2000s.
Buses carry up to 3 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 five lines with 64 stations, connecting all five railway terminals, and carrying 3.4 million passengers daily. Metro stations are decorated in marble and bronze.
Traffic jams are common in the city, because of high daily traffic volumes between the commuter boroughs and the city centre, intercity traffic, and at times excessive snow in winter. Five segments of the Saint Petersburg Ring Road were opened between 2002 and 2006.
Saint Petersburg is part of the important transport corridor linking Scandinavia to Russia and Eastern Europe. The city is a node of the international European routes E18 towards Helsinki, E20 towards Tallinn, E95 towards Pskov, Kiev and Odessa and E105 towards Petrozavodsk, Murmansk and Kirkenes (north) and towards Moscow and Kharkiv (south).
As of 2006/2007 there were 1024 kindergartens, 716 public schools and 80 vocational schools in Saint Petersburg. The largest of the higher education institutions are Saint Petersburg State University, enrolling approximately 32,000 undergraduate students, Saint Petersburg Polytechnical University, Herzen University and Saint Petersburg Military engineering-technical university. However, the universities are all federal property and don't belong to the city.
Among the city's more than fifty theaters is the world-famous Mariinsky Theater (also known as the Kirov Theater in the USSR ), home to the Mariinsky Ballet company and opera. Leading ballet dancers, such as Vaslav Nijinsky, Anna Pavlova, Rudolph Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Galina Ulanova and Natalia Makarova, were principal stars of the Mariinsky ballet.
Dmitri Shostakovich was born and brought up in Saint Petersburg, and dedicated his Seventh Symphony to the city, calling it the "Leningrad Symphony." He wrote the symphony while in Leningrad during the German siege. The 7th symphony was premiered in 1942; its performance in the besieged Leningrad at the Bolshoy Philharmonic Hall under the baton of conductor Karl Eliasberg was heard over the radio and lifted the spirits of the survivors. In 1992 a reunion performance of the 7th Symphony by the (then) 14 survivors was played in the same hall as they done half a century ago. 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.
The Imperial Choral Capella was founded and modeled 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 later was named jazz club Kvadrat. In 1956 the popular ensemble Druzhba was founded by Aleksandr Bronevitsky and Edita Piekha, becoming the first popular band in the 1950s USSR. 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, that later grew to huge popularity. Since then "Peter's rock" music style was formed.
In the 1970s many bands came out from "underground" and eventually founded the Leningrad rock club, which has been providing stage to such bands as Piknik, DDT, Kino, headed by the legendary Viktor Tsoi, Igry, Mify, Zemlyane, Alisa and many other popular groups. The first Russian-style happening show Pop mekhanika, mixing over 300 people and animals on stage, was directed by the multi-talented Sergey Kuryokhin in the 1980s.
Today's Saint Petersburg boasts many notable musicians of various genres, from popular Leningrad's Sergei Shnurov and Tequilajazzz, to rock veterans Yuri Shevchuk, Vyacheslav Butusov and Mikhail Boyarsky.
The White Nights Festival in Saint Petersburg is famous for spectacular fireworks and massive show celebrating the end of school year.
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 were produced worldwide, but were not filmed in the city. 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 international team of British, American, French and Russian filmmakers.
The cult comedy Irony of Fate (also Ирония судьбы, или С лёгким паром!) is set in Saint Petersburg and pokes fun at Soviet city planning. The 1985 film White Nights received considerable Western attention for having captured genuine Leningrad street scenes at a time when filming in the Soviet Union by Western production companies was generally unheard of. Other movies include GoldenEye (1995), Midnight in Saint Petersburg (1996), and Brother (1997). Onegin (1999) is based on the Pushkin poem and showcases many tourist attractions. In addition, the Russian romantic comedy, Питер FM, showcases the cityscape significantly, almost as if it were a main character in the film.
Several international film festivals are held annually, such as the Festival of Festivals, St. Petersburg, as well as the Message to Man International Documentary Film Festival, since its inauguration in 1988 during the White Nights.
Leningrad hosted part of the football tournament during the 1980 Summer Olympics. The 1994 Goodwill Games were held here.
The first competition here was the 1703 rowing event initiated by Peter the Great, after the victory over the Swedish fleet. Yachting events were held by the Russian Navy since the foundation of the city. Yacht clubs: St. Petersburg River Yacht Club, Neva Yacht Club, the latter is the oldest yacht club in the world. In the winter, when the sea and lake surfaces are frozen and yachts and dinghies cannot be used, local people sail on ice boats.
Equestrianism has been a long tradition, popular among the Tsars and aristocracy, as well as part of the 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.
Chess tradition was highlighted by the 1914 international tournament, in which the title "Grandmaster" was first formally conferred by Russian Tsar Nicholas II to five players: Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine, Tarrasch and Marshall, and which the Tsar had partially funded.
Kirov Stadium (now demolished) was one of the largest stadia anywhere in the world, and the home to FC Zenit St. Petersburg in 1950-1993 and 1995. In 1951 the attendance of 110,000 set the record for the Soviet football. In 1984, 2007 and 2010 Zenit became champions of the Soviet and Russian leagues, respectively, won the Russian Cup in 1999 and 2010, won the UEFA Cup 2007–08 season and the 2008 UEFA Super Cup. Zenit currently plays their home games at Petrovsky Stadium. The new stadium, which will host the 2018 FIFA World Cup matches, is currently in construction, replacing the Kirov stadium.
Russia used to have a high level of crime that increased significantly after the October revolution. Having reduced in subsequent years, especially when the city was besieged during the war (1941–1944), it was followed by a relatively short crime wave in the second half of 1940s which in its turn subsided at the beginning of the 1950s. A sharp spike in the crime level occurred at the end of the 1980s – beginning of the 1990s as a result of Perestroika-time turmoils (redistribution of property, privatization, decline of living standards, decrease of the effectiveness of militia etc.) By that time 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; Banditskiy Peterburg: Advocat, Brother (1997) reinforcing its image as the Crime Capital of Russia.
It is hard to assess the state of affairs by 2011, since a page of an official portal of the Government of St. Petersburg saying about the decrease in juvenile crime in 2004–2005 has not been updated since that time. Statements that by 2010 the number of crimes against tourists has decreased by one third compared to 2007 provide neither exact figures nor the structure of these crimes. Meanwhile Saint Petersburg experiences significant levels of street crime and bribery. In addition, in recent years there has been a notable increase in racially motivated violence, in particular towards foreign students. One of notable white supremacist groups Belaya Energia (White Energy, originally comes from White Power), has reportedly been one of the gangs involved in murdering foreign university students.