|— Federal city —|
Clockwise from top left: Peter and Paul Fortress on Zayachy Island, Smolny Cathedral, Bronze Horseman on Senate Square, the Winter Palace, Trinity Cathedral, and the Moyka river with the General Staff Building.
|Established||May 27, 1703|
|Federal city Day||May 27|
|Government (as of March 2010)|
|• Governor||Georgy Poltavchenko|
|• Legislature||Legislative Assembly|
|• Total||1,439 km2 (556 sq mi)|
|Population (2010 Census)|
|• Density||3,390.94/km2 (8,782.5/sq mi)|
|Population (2015 est.)|
|Time zone(s)||MSK (UTC+03:00)|
|License plates||78, 98, 178|
Saint Petersburg (Russian: Санкт-Петербу́рг, tr. Sankt-Peterburg; IPA: [ˈsankt pʲɪtʲɪrˈburk] ( listen)) is the second largest city in Russia, politically incorporated as a federal subject (a federal city). Situated on the Neva River, at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea, it was named Saint Petersburg in 1703. In 1914, the name was changed from Saint Petersburg to Petrograd (Russian: Петрогра́д; IPA: [pʲɪtrɐˈgrat]), in 1924 to Leningrad (Russian: Ленингра́д; IPA: [lʲɪnʲɪnˈgrat]), and in 1991 back to Saint Petersburg. Tsar Peter the Great founded Saint Petersburg on May 27 [O.S. 16] 1703. Between 1713–1728 and 1732–1918, Saint Petersburg was the imperial capital of Russia. In 1918, the central government bodies moved to Moscow. It is Russia's second-largest city after Moscow, with five million inhabitants in 2012, and an important Russian port on the Baltic Sea.
Saint Petersburg is the most Westernized city of Russia, as well as its cultural capital. It is the northernmost city in the world with a population of over one million. The Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments constitute a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Saint Petersburg is home to The Hermitage, one of the largest art museums in the world. A large number of foreign consulates, international corporations, banks, and businesses have offices in Saint Petersburg.
- 1 History
- 2 Geography
- 3 Demographics
- 4 Government
- 5 Economy
- 6 Cityscape
- 7 Tourism
- 8 Transportation
- 9 Media and communications
- 10 Education
- 11 Culture
- 12 Famous people
- 13 Crime
- 14 Twin towns and sister cities
- 15 See also
- 16 References
- 17 Sources
- 18 External links
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Swedish colonists built Nyenskans, a fortress, at the mouth of the Neva River in 1611, in a land then called Ingermanland, that was inhabited by Finnic tribe of Ingrians. A small town called "Nyen" grew up around it.
Peter the Great was interested in seafaring and maritime affairs, and he intended to have Russia gain a seaport in order to be able to trade with other maritime nations. He needed a better seaport than Arkhangelsk, which was on the White Sea to the north and closed to shipping for months during the winter.
On May 12 [O.S. 1] 1703, during the Great Northern War, Peter the Great captured Nyenskans, and soon replaced the fortress. On May 27 [O.S. 16] 1703, closer to the estuary 5 km (3 mi) inland from the gulf), on Zayachy (Hare) Island, he laid down the Peter and Paul Fortress, which became the first brick and stone building of the new city.
The city was built by conscripted peasants from all over Russia; a number 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 the Saint Petersburg Governorate. Peter moved the capital from Moscow to Saint Petersburg in 1712, 9 years before the Treaty of Nystad of 1721 ended the war; he referred to Saint Petersburg as the capital (or seat of government) as early as 1704.
During its first few years, the city developed around Trinity Square on the right bank of the Neva, near the Peter and Paul Fortress. However, Saint Petersburg soon started to be built out according to a plan. By 1716 the Swiss Italian Domenico Trezzini had elaborated a project whereby the city centre would be located on Vasilyevsky Island and shaped by a rectangular grid of canals. The project was not completed, but is evident in the layout of the streets. In 1716, Peter the Great appointed French Jean-Baptiste Alexandre Le Blond as the chief architect of Saint Petersburg.
The style of Petrine Baroque, developed by Trezzini and other architects and exemplified by such buildings as the Menshikov Palace, Kunstkamera, Peter and Paul Cathedral, Twelve Collegia, became prominent in the city architecture of the early 18th century. In 1724 the Academy of Sciences, University and Academic Gymnasium were established in Saint Petersburg by Peter the Great.
In 1725, Peter died at the age of fifty-two. His endeavours to modernize Russia had met with opposition from the Russian nobility—resulting in several attempts on his life and a treason case involving his son. In 1728, Peter II of Russia moved his seat back to Moscow. But four years later, in 1732, under Empress Anna of Russia, Saint Petersburg was again designated as the capital of the Russian Empire. It remained the seat of the Romanov dynasty and the Imperial Court of the Russian Tsars, as well as the seat of the Russian government, for another 186 years until the communist revolution of 1917.
In 1736–1737 the city suffered from catastrophic fires. To rebuild the damaged boroughs, a committee under Burkhard Christoph von Münnich commissioned a new plan in 1737. The city was divided into five boroughs, and the city center was moved to the Admiralty borough, situated on the east bank between the Neva and Fontanka.
It developed along three radial streets, which meet at the Admiralty building and are now one street known as Nevsky Prospekt (which is considered the main street of the city), Gorokhovaya Street and Voznesensky Prospekt. Baroque architecture became dominant in the city during the first sixty years, culminating in the Elizabethan Baroque, represented most notably by Italian Bartolomeo Rastrelli with such buildings as the Winter Palace. In the 1760s, Baroque architecture was succeeded by neoclassical architecture.
Established in 1762, the Commission of Stone Buildings of Moscow and Saint Petersburg ruled that no structure in the city can be higher than the Winter Palace and prohibited spacing between buildings. During the reign of Catherine the Great in the 1760s–1780s, the banks of the Neva were lined with granite embankments.
However, it was not until 1850 that the first permanent bridge across the Neva, Blagoveshchensky Bridge, was allowed to open. Before that, only pontoon bridges were allowed. Obvodny Canal (dug in 1769–1833) became the southern limit of the city.
The most prominent neoclassical and Empire-style architects in Saint Petersburg included:
- 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)
- Auguste de Montferrand (Saint Isaac's Cathedral, Alexander Column)
In 1810, Alexander I established the first engineering Higher learning institution, the Saint Petersburg Main military engineering School in Saint Petersburg. Many monuments commemorate the Russian victory over Napoleonic France in the Patriotic War of 1812, including the Alexander Column by Montferrand, erected in 1834, and the Narva Triumphal Gate.
By the 1840s, neoclassical architecture had given way to various romanticist styles, which dominated until the 1890s, represented by such architects as Andrei Stackenschneider (Mariinsky Palace, Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace, Nicholas Palace, New Michael Palace) and Konstantin Thon (Moskovsky railway station).
With the emancipation of the peasants undertaken by Alexander II in 1861 and an industrial revolution, the influx of former peasants into the capital increased greatly. Poor boroughs spontaneously emerged on the outskirts of the city. Saint Petersburg surpassed Moscow in population and industrial growth; it developed as one of the largest industrial cities in Europe, with a major naval base (in Kronstadt), river and sea port.
The names of saints Peter and Paul, bestowed upon original city's citadel and its cathedral (from 1725—a burial vault of Russian emperors) coincidentally were the names of the first two assassinated Russian Emperors, Peter III (1762, supposedly killed in a conspiracy led by his wife, Catherine the Great) and Paul I (1801, Nicholas Zubov and other conspirators who brought to power Alexander I, the son of their victim). The third emperor's assassination took place in Petersburg in 1881 when Alexander II fell victim to narodniki (see the Church of the Savior on Blood).
1900 to present
The Revolution of 1905 began in Saint Petersburg and spread rapidly into the provinces.
On November 7, 1917 (O.S. October 25), the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, stormed the Winter Palace in an event known thereafter as the October Revolution, which led to the end of the post-Tsarist provisional government, the transfer of all political power to the Soviets, and the rise of the Communist Party. After that the city acquired a new descriptive name, "the city of three revolutions", referring to the three major developments in the political history of Russia of the early 20th-century.
In September and October 1917, German troops invaded the West Estonian archipelago and threatened Petrograd with bombardment and invasion. On March 12, 1918, the Soviets transferred the government to Moscow, to keep it away from the state border. During the ensuing Civil War, in 1919 general Yudenich advancing from Estonia repeated the attempt to capture the city, but Leon Trotsky mobilized the army and forced him to retreat.
On January 26, 1924, five days after Lenin's death, Petrograd was renamed Leningrad. Later some streets and other toponyms were renamed accordingly. The city has over 230 places associated with the life and activities of Lenin. Some of them were turned into museums, including the cruiser Aurora – a symbol of the October Revolution and the oldest ship in the Russian Navy.
In the 1920s and 1930s, the poor outskirts were reconstructed into regularly planned boroughs. Constructivist architecture flourished around that time. Housing became a government-provided amenity; many "bourgeois" apartments were so large that numerous families were assigned to what were called "communal" apartments (kommunalkas). By the 1930s, 68% of the population lived in such housing. In 1935 a new general plan was outlined, whereby the city should expand to the south. Constructivism was rejected in favor of a more pompous Stalinist architecture. Moving the city center further from the border with Finland, Stalin adopted a plan to build a new city hall with a huge adjacent square at the southern end of Moskovsky Prospekt, designated as the new main street of Leningrad. After the Second World War, the Soviet-Finnish border moved northwards. Nevsky Prospekt with Palace Square maintained the functions and the role of a city center.
In December 1931, Leningrad was administratively separated from Leningrad Oblast. At that time it included the Leningrad Suburban District, some parts of which were transferred back to Leningrad Oblast in 1936 and turned into Vsevolozhsky District, Krasnoselsky District, Pargolovsky District and Slutsky District (renamed Pavlovsky District in 1944).
During World War II, German forces besieged Leningrad following the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. The siege lasted 872 days, from September 1941 to 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 most supplies except those provided through the Road of Life across Lake Ladoga. More than one million civilians died, mainly from starvation. Many others were eventually evacuated or escaped, so the city became largely depopulated.
On May 1, 1945 Joseph Stalin, in his Supreme Commander Order No. 20, named Leningrad, alongside Stalingrad, Sevastopol, and Odessa, hero cities of the war. A law acknowledging the honorary title of "Hero City" passed on May 8, 1965 (the 20th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War), during the Brezhnev era. The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR awarded Leningrad as a Hero City the Order of Lenin and the Gold Star medal "for the heroic resistance of the city and tenacity of the survivors of the Siege". The Hero-City Obelisk bearing the Gold Star sign was installed in April 1985.
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.
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.
The Leningrad Metro underground rapid transit system, designed before the war, opened in 1955 with its first eight stations decorated with marble and bronze. However, after the death of Stalin in 1953, the perceived ornamental excesses of the Stalinist architecture were abandoned. From the 1960s to the 1980s many new residential boroughs were built on the outskirts; while the functionalist apartment blocks were nearly identical to each other, many families moved there from kommunalkas in the city centre in order to live in separate apartments.
On June 12, 1991, simultaneously with the first Russian presidential elections, the city authorities arranged for the mayoral elections and a referendum upon the name of the city. The turnout was 65%; 66.13% of the total count of votes went to Anatoly Sobchak, who became the first directly elected mayor of the city.
Meanwhile, economic conditions started to deteriorate as the country tried to adapt to major changes. For the first time since the 1940s, food rationing was introduced, and the city received humanitarian food aid from abroad. This dramatic time was depicted in photographic series of Russian photographer Alexey Titarenko. In 1995 a northern section of the Kirovsko-Vyborgskaya Line of the Saint Petersburg Metro was cut off by underground flooding, creating a major obstacle to the city development for almost ten years.
In 1996, Vladimir Yakovlev defeated Anatoly Sobchak in the elections for the head of the city administration. The title of the city head was changed from "mayor" to "governor". In 2000 Yakovlev won re-election. His second term expired in 2004; the long-awaited restoration of broken subway connection was expected to finish by that time. But in 2003 Yakovlev suddenly resigned, leaving the governor's office to Valentina Matviyenko.
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 396-meter skyscraper 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.
The area of Saint Petersburg city proper is 605.8 square kilometers (233.9 sq mi). The area of the federal subject is 1,439 square kilometers (556 sq mi), which contains Saint Petersburg proper (consisting of eighty-one municipal 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.
The elevation of Saint Petersburg ranges from the sea level to its highest point of 175.9 meters (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 meters (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 four most disastrous floods occurred in 1824 (421 centimeters or 166 inches above sea level, during which over three hundred buildings were destroyed), 1924 380 centimeters or 150 inches, 1777 321 centimeters or 126 inches, 1955 293 centimeters or 115 inches, and 1975 281 centimeters or 111 inches. To prevent floods, the Saint Petersburg Dam has been constructed.
Since the 18th century the terrain in the city has been raised artificially, at some places by more than 4 meters (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.
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. Climate of Saint Petersburg is close to the climate of Helsinki, although colder in winter and warmer in summer because of 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 Gulf of Finland. The city also has a slightly warmer climate than its suburbs. Weather conditions are quite variable all year round.
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.
An explanation that the origin of "Saint-" in Saint Petersburg is due to Peter the Great's contact with Dutch culture is a common misconception. However this is unlikely as the Dutch Republic adhered to Calvinist Protestantism and had long abandoned and even frowned upon the culture of veneration of saints and the naming of places after them, since the era of reformation. Moreover, "Saint-" in the Dutch language is Sint- and not Sankt-. The sample which czar Peter followed does sound like 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 the rival Swedish Empire (now Mikkeli in Finland). Sankt- in these toponyms is merely a Germanized form of Latin: Sanctus.
A 14- to 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: Πετρόπολις (Petropolis, Петрополис) 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 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 [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.
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.
A referendum on reversing the renaming of Leningrad was held on June 12, 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 September 6, 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 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. (Its official Greek name is Αγία Πετρούπολη.)
Saint Petersburg is the second largest city in Russia. As of the 2010 Census, the federal subject's population is 4,879,566 or 3.4% of the total population of Russia; up from 4,661,219 (3.2%) recorded in the 2002 Census, and down from 5,023,506 recorded in the 1989 Census.
- Vital statistics for 2015
2009 – 1.34 | 2010 – 1.38 | 2011 – 1.38 | 2012 – 1.48 | 2013 – 1.48 | 2014 – 1.52 | 2015 – 1.58(e)
The 2010 Census recorded the ethnic composition as follows: Russian 80.1%, Ukrainian 1.3%, Belarusians 0.8%, Tatar 0.6%, Armenian 0.6%, Jewish 0.5%, Uzbek 0.4%, Tajik 0.3%, Azeri 0.3%, Georgian 0.2%, Moldovan 0.2%, Finns 0.1%, other – 1.3%. The ethnicity of the remaining 13.4% of the inhabitants was not specified.
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 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 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 current population is over 4.8 million. 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 (a federal city). The political life of Saint Petersburg is regulated by the Charter of Saint Petersburg adopted by the city legislature in 1998. The superior executive body is the Saint Petersburg City Administration, led by the city governor (mayor before 1996). Saint Petersburg has a single-chamber legislature, the Saint Petersburg Legislative Assembly which is the city's regional parliament.
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, 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 August 22, 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.
Saint Petersburg city is currently divided into eighteen districts. Saint Petersburg is also the unofficial but de facto 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 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, Pavel 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 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 $60 million distillery in Petersburg (an area of 30,000 m2 (320,000 sq ft), production rate of 22,500 bottles per hour). In 2007 this brand was exported to over 70 countries.
Saint Petersburg has the second largest construction industry in Russia, including commercial, housing and road construction.
In 2006 Saint Petersburg's city budget was 179.9 billion rubles (about 6.651 billion US$ at 2006 exchange rates), and is planned to double by 2012. The federal subject's gross regional product as of 2005[update] was 667.905 billion Russian rubles (about 23.611 billion US$ 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 US$ 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 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)
Saint Petersburg has three skyscrapers: Leader Tower (140 m), Alexander Nevsky (124 m) and Atlantic City (105 m) all three being situated far away from the historical centre. Current regulations forbid construction of high 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 Cernter project has been finally cancelled at the end of 2010 and instead of that Lakhta Center project is started at the city outskirts. The complex shall include 463-metre-tall (1,519-foot) office skyscraper and several low rise mixed use buildings. Lakhta center project causes much less controversy and, unlike the previous unbuilt project, is not seen by UNESCO as potential threat to cultural heritage because it is located far away from historical center. Skyscraper construction has already started, the building should be constructed in 2017. It is assumed that the building will be the tallest in Russia and Europe.
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 Decembrist'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 was not until 2004 that the first high bridge across the Neva, which does not 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 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.
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 specifically to Russian fine art. The apartments of some famous Petersburgers, including Alexander Pushkin, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 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.
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 U.S.S.R..
Other notable museums include the Central Naval Museum, and Zoological Museum, the Railway Museum, Suvorov Museum, Museum of the Siege of Leningrad, Erarta Museum of Contemporary Art, the largest non-governmental Museum of contemporary art in Russia, Saint Petersburg Museum of History in the Peter and Paul Fortress and Artillery Museum, which includes not only artillery items, but also a huge collection of other military equipment, uniforms 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 in 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.
In order to commemorate 300 years anniversary of Saint Petersburg a new park was laid out. The park is situated in the north western 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.
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Saint Petersburg has significant historical and cultural heritage and is thus considered[by whom?] a highly attractive tourist destination.
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 centers 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 the city to 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 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 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'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 then, in turn, with acrobatics, rhythmic gymnastics, dramatic expressiveness, cinema, color, light, and finally with spoken word.
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 Airport serves the majority of air passengers departing from or arriving to the city.
Roads and public transport
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 67 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.
Traffic jams are common in the city due to daily commuter traffic volumes, intercity traffic and excessive winter snow. The construction of the Saint Petersburg Ring Road, which was completed in 2011, helped to partially reduce the traffic in the city.
Saint Petersburg is an 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).
The city is also served by passenger and cargo seaports in the Neva Bay of the Gulf of Finland, Baltic Sea, the river port higher up the Neva and tens of smaller passenger stations on both banks of the Neva river. It is a terminus of both the Volga-Baltic and White Sea-Baltic waterways.
The first high bridge that does not need to be drawn, a 2,824-meter (9,265 ft) long Big Obukhovsky Bridge, opened in 2004. Meteor hydrofoils link the city centre to the coastal towns of Kronstadt, Lomonosov, Petergof, Sestroretsk and Zelenogorsk from May through October. In the warmer months many smaller boats and water-taxis maneuver the canals throughout the city.
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), 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, which was built in 1870 and is 443 kilometers (275 mi) long, has trains running four times a day, in a journey lasting about three and a half hours with the new 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 May 2, 2009, travelling at 281 km/h (174.6 mph) and on May 7, 2009, traveling at 290 kilometers per hour (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 is also served by Pulkovo International Airport, and by three smaller commercial and cargo airports in the suburbs. Lappeenranta Airport, which is located 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[update], 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 December 4, 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, 24/7, rapid-bus transit connection (marshrutka) between Pulkovo airport and the city center.
Media and communications
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 which can be received in the city:
As of 2006[update]/2007 there were 1024 kindergartens, 716 public schools and 80 vocational schools in Saint Petersburg. The largest of the public higher education institutions is Saint Petersburg State University, enrolling approximately 32,000 undergraduate students; and the largest non-governmental higher education institutions is the Institute of International Economic Relations, Economics and Law. Other famous universities are Saint Petersburg Polytechnical University, Herzen University and Saint Petersburg Military engineering-technical university. However, the public universities are all federal property and do not 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.
The First music professional institution – Conservatory – appeared in 1862 in St. Petersburg thanks to the Russian pianist and composer Anton Rubinstein. The school alumni have included such notable composers as Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Sergei Prokofiev, Artur Kapp, and Rudolf Tobias and Dmitri Shostakovich, who taught at the conservatory during the 1960s, bringing it additional fame. Famous Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov who taught at the Conservatory for more than 30 years, created strong composers' school. Among his students were Igor Stravinsky, Alexander Glazounov, Anatoly Liadov and others. The only composer's museum in St. Petersburg is now museum in the former apartment of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. The completeness and authenticity of these rooms make the museum particularly invaluable.
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 in the city during the siege of Leningrad. 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. It 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 earlier. 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 which is possibly the longest of any conductor with any orchestra in modern times – led the orchestra from being a little-known provincial ensemble to it becoming one of the world's most highly regarded orchestras today, especially for the performance of Russian music.
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 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.
In the 1970s many bands came out from 'underground' and eventually founded the Leningrad rock club, which provided a stage to such bands as DDT, Kino, headed by the legendary Viktor Tsoi, Alisa, Zemlyane, Zoopark, Piknik, Secret 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. The annual International Music Festival SKIF (Sergey Kuriokhin International Festival) is named after him. In 2004 the Kuryokhin Center was founded, were the SKIF as well as the Electro-Mechanica festival and Ethnomechanica festival takes place. SKIF focuses on experimental pop music and avant garde music, Electro-Mechanica on electronic music and Ethnomechanica on world music.
Today's Saint Petersburg boasts many notable musicians of various genres, from popular Leningrad's Sergei Shnurov, Tequilajazzz, Splean, Korol i Shut, to rock veterans Yuri Shevchuk, Vyacheslav Butusov and Mikhail Boyarsky. In the early 2000s on a wave of popularity of metalcore, rapcore, emocore and there are such groups as Amatory, Kirpichi, Psychea, Stigmata, Grenouer and Animal Jazz.
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.
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), Brother (1997) and Tamil romantic thriller film-Dhaam Dhoom (2008). Onegin (1999) is based on the Pushkin poem and showcases many tourist attractions. In addition, the Russian romantic comedy, Питер FM, intricately showcases the cityscape, almost as if it were a main character in the film.
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 frequently 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".
In boating, 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 ice boats.
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.
Chess tradition was highlighted by the 1914 international tournament, partially funded by the Tsar, in which the title "Grandmaster" was first formally conferred by Russian Tsar Nicholas II to five players: Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine, Tarrasch and Marshall.
Kirov Stadium (now demolished) was one of the largest stadiums in the world and home to FC Zenit Saint Petersburg from 1950 to 1993 and again in 1995. In 1951 a crowd of 110,000 set the single-game attendance record for Soviet football. In 1984, 2007, 2010 and 2011/2012 Zenit were the champions of the Soviet and Russian leagues, respectively, and won the Russian Cup in 1999 and 2010, the UEFA Cup 2007–08 season and the 2008 UEFA Super Cup. The team leader was local player Andrei Arshavin. Zenit currently play their home games at Petrovsky Stadium. The New Zenit Stadium, which will host 2018 FIFA World Cup matches, is currently under construction.
There is also a second professional football club in Saint Petersburg which is called FC Petrotrest Saint Petersburg.
Hockey teams in the city include SKA Saint Petersburg in the KHL, HC VMF St. Petersburg in the VHL, and junior clubs SKA-1946 and Silver Lions in the Russian Major League. SKA Saint Petersburg is one of the most popular KHL, consistently being at or near the top of the league in attendance, despite the fact that they have never won the championship. Well-known players include Maxim Afinogenov, Patrick Thoresen, Dmitri Kalinin, Petr Průcha and Viktor Tikhonov. During the NHL lockout, stars Ilya Kovalchuk, Sergei Bobrovsky and Vladimir Tarasenko also played for the team. They play their home games at Ice Palace Saint Petersburg.
The city's long-time basketball team is BC Spartak Saint Petersburg, which launched the career of Andrei Kirilenko. Spartak won two championships in the USSR Premier League (1975 and 1992), two USSR Cups (1978 and 1987), and a Russian Cup title (2011). They also won the Saporta Cup twice (1973 and 1975). Legends of the club include Alexander Belov and Vladimir Kondrashin. The city also has a new basketball team, BC Zenit Saint Petersburg.
- Peter the Great – Later the Russian emperor
- Vladimir Putin – President of Russia
- Dmitry Medvedev – Prime Minister of Russia
- Vladimir Lenin – Russian communist revolutionary
- Catherine the Great – Empress of Russia
- Alexander II – Emperor of Russia
- Grigori Rasputin – Russian mystic and advisor to the Romanovs
- Alexander Suvorov – Generalissimo of the Russian Empire
- Mikhail Kutuzov – Field Marshal of the Russian Empire
- Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly – Russian Field Marshal and Minister of War
- Aleksandr Menshikov – Russian statesman, Generalissimo, Admiral, Princes of the Holy Roman Empire
- Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim – Finnish military leader and statesman
- Alexander Pushkin – Russian author of the Romantic era
- Alexander Blok – Russian lyrical poet
- Anna Akhmatova – Russian modernist poet
- Alexander Kolchak – Russian commander in the Imperial Russian Navy
- Fyodor Dostoyevsky – Russian novelist, short story writer and essayist
- Sandra Drouker – concert pianist
- Nikolai Gogol – Russian dramatist, novelist and short story writer
- Mikhail Lermontov – Russian Romantic writer, poet and painter
- Nikolai Leskov – Russian novelist, short story writer and journalist
- Fyodor Tyutchev – Russian lyrical poet
- Vasily Zhukovsky – Russian poet
- Nikolay Nekrasov – Russian poet, writer, critic and publisher
- Vladimir Mayakovsky – Russian poet
- Joseph Brodsky – Russian poet and essayist
- Vladimir Nabokov – Russian-American novelist
- Arkady and Boris Strugatsky – Russian science fiction authors
- Alfred Nobel – Swedish chemist, engineer, innovator, and armaments manufacturer
- Dmitri Mendeleev – Russian chemist and inventor
- Mikhail Lomonosov – Russian polymath, scientist and writer
- Carl Heinrich von Siemens – German entrepreneur
- Nicholas Miklouho-Maclay – Russian explorer, ethnologist, anthropologist and biologist
- Igor Sikorsky – Russian aviation pioneer
- Georgy Grechko – Russian cosmonaut
- Grigori Perelman – Russian mathematician
- Nikolai Vavilov – Russian botanist
- Ivan Pavlov – Russian physiologist
- Dmitry Likhachov – Russian philologist
- Lev Gumilev – Russian historian, ethnologist, anthropologist and translator
- Sergei Rachmaninoff – Russian composer, pianist, and conductor
- Modest Mussorgsky – Russian composer
- Mikhail Glinka – Russian composer
- Valery Gergiev – Russian conductor and opera company director
- Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov – Russian composer
- Dmitri Shostakovich – Russian composer and pianist
- Igor Stravinsky – Russian composer, pianist and conductor
- Peter Carl Fabergé – Russian jeweller
- Domenico Trezzini – Swiss Italian architect
- Andrey Voronikhin – Russian architect and painter
- Carlo Rossi – Italian-born Russian architect
- Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli – Italian-born Russian architect
- Giacomo Quarenghi – Italian-born Russian architect
- Kazimir Malevich – Russian painter and art theoretician
- Ilya Repin – Russian painter and sculptor
- Anna Pavlova – Russian ballerina
- Vaslav Nijinsky – Russian danseur and choreographer
- Alexander Karasyov – Russian writer
- Evgeni Plushenko – Russian figure skater
- Fedor Emelianenko – Russian politician and retired heavyweight mixed martial artist, sambist, and judoka
- Andrei Kirilenko – Russian professional basketball player
- Svetlana Abrosimova – Professional basketball player in Russia and US
- Nikolai Valuev – Russian professional boxer
- Oxana Fedorova – Miss Russia 2001 and Miss Universe 2002 (dethroned)
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, Banditskiy Peterburg: Advocat 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 that the number of crimes against tourists had decreased 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 (which came into effect on March 17, 2012) that makes it a criminal offence to publicize acts of male or female homosexuality, bisexuality, or transgenderism. It is purportedly designed 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."
Twin towns and sister cities
Other sisterhoods not on the government list:
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 November 23, 2012  and Venice did so on January 28, 2013. The City of Los Angeles will debate whether to suspend the sister city status in 2013  and Carl Katter, half-brother of Australian politician Bob Katter, is campaigning for Melbourne, Vic., to drop ties as well.
- Flag of Saint Petersburg
- Hotels in Saint Petersburg
- List of buildings and structures in Saint Petersburg
- List of bridges in Saint Petersburg
- List of theatres in Saint Petersburg
- List of museums in Saint Petersburg
- List of Saint Petersburg Metro stations
- List of notable people from Saint Petersburg
- List of consulates in Saint Petersburg
- List of Saint Petersburg sister cities
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Saint Petersburg.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Saint Petersburg (Russia).|
- City Tourist Portal
- PETERSBURG - 2018 FIFA World Cup™ Host City Video on YouTube by FIFA
- St Petersburg on In Our Time at the BBC. (listen now)
- St-Petersburg, Virtual Tour • 360° Aerial Panorama
- Bob Atchinson (2010). "Saint Petersburg, 1900: a photographic travelogue of the capital of Imperial Russia". Retrieved February 9, 2011 [50 photographs of St. Petersburg from «Travelogues» of Burton Holmes (Vol. 8, 1914) and other sources
- Официальный портал администрации Санкт-Петербурга [The Official Portal of the Saint Petersburg City Authority]. The Saint Petersburg City Authority: 191060, St. Petersburg, Smolny [Администрация Санкт-Петербурга 191060, СПб., Смольный] (in Russian). 2001–2011. Retrieved February 9, 2011.
- "Encyclopaedia of Saint Petersburg". St. Petersburg: The Likhachov Foundation. 2004. Retrieved February 9, 2011 [3500 entries, 9200 personalities, 3500 addresses, 2000 pictures and 40 geographical maps, 3800 bibliographical references from the original "Encyclopaedia of Saint Petersburg" (SPb., Rosspen, 2004)]