St. Petersburg, Russia.
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St. Petersburg, Russia
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Winter Palace and Hermitage
Surely the finest building the Winter Palace - was built to orders of Czarina Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great. The Italianate Baroque structure is white and green and Catherine the Great extended it in Classical style for her Hermitage in 1764 and purchased art treasures throughout Europe. Today this collection with at least three million pieces of art is the world's largest art museum.
One of the largest churches in Europe is the St. Isaac cathedral. At 328 foot (100 m) high it dominates the skyline of St. Petersburg. Its interior is a veritable symphony of marble, precious and semi-precious stones of every color and it has space for 14,000 worshippers. The golden cupola is gilded with more than forty-five pounds in weight of pure gold. From the top there is a breathtaking view of the finest square of the old city.
St. Petersburg, Russia

THE CENTRE
The historic centre of the city is Palace Square, which incorporates the Winter Palace, the General Staff Headquarters and Ministries Buildings. The Winter Palace used to be the Imperial residence. Several rooms in the palace were used to house unique works of art, and these rooms came to be known as the Hermitage. Later more buildings were constructed for the growing collections - the Small Hermitage, the Great Hermitage, the Hermitage Theatre and the New Hermitage. All these buildings now make up the State Hermitage - an enormous museum of art, history and culture. The collection includes paintings by Rubens, Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci, Titian and many other artists, as well as historical and cultural objects from many countries.

THE VENICE OF THE NORTH
St. Petersburg is built on 42 islands at the Neva delta where the river flows into the Gulf of Finland. It is one of the world's leading cities in terms of its number of rivers, islands and bridges. St. Petersburg is sometimes called a museum of bridges - it has over 300 of them.

69 rivers and other waterways flow through the city and its immediate environs; within the city limits there are 40 rivers, tributaries, canals and other waterways with a total length of 217.5 km. The principal ones are the Great and Lesser Neva, the Great, Medium and Lesser Nevka, the Fontanka, the Karpovka, the Okhta, the Zhdanovka, the Moika, Chernaya Rechka and the Obvodnyy Canal.

St. Petersburg Markets

THE MAIN STREET
Nevsky Prospekt is St. Petersburg's main street. It began with the clearing of a straight cut through the forest and the building of a road on it.

The straight, wide thoroughfare starts from the Admiralty, passes through Ploshchad Vosstaniya and ends at the Alexander Nevsky Monastery. It was named after Alexander Nevsky (or possibly after the monastery, which was also called Nevsky). The city's main highway contains St. Petersburg's major shops, theatres and museums.

ISLANDS
In the early 20th century there were more than 100 islands in the city, but as a result of engineering work to develop the marine facade their number was reduced to 42. There are over 580 bridges, including 20 that can be raised (7 of these cross the Neva); the total area occupied by the river within the city's boundaries is 32 km (its total length from Lake Ladoga to the Gulf of Finland is 74 km). The length of the marine embankment within the limits of the modern city is about 35 km.

ST. PETERSBURG - A NAVAL CITY
A great deal in St. Petersburg's artistic decoration is reminiscent of the city's naval glory, which is inextricably linked with the expanses of the Baltic Sea. Peter I did all he could to ensure that the sails of Russian ships were seen along the Baltic coast. Russia became a formidable naval power, confirming its superiority with glorious victories and round-the-world voyages.

THEATRES
St. Petersburg's first theatre was opened by Peter I's sister Natalya in 1709. The city is famous for its theatres - not only for the companies, but for the beauty of the theatres themselves. From the earliest years of St. Petersburg theatres were built into the Imperial palaces, while the imposing, monumental buildings of the public theatres were erected on the city's squares. St. Petersburg is rightly known as the cultural capital.

The city boasts one of the oldest circuses in the country, opened in 1877. A great contribution to the musical heritage of the city and the country is made by the Shostakovich Philharmonia and the Glinka State Academic Capella.

ARCHITECTURAL MONUMENTS
Among St. Petersburg's unique attractions are its numerous palaces, constructed in the 18th and 19th centuries, when the city was the capital of the Russian state; they formed the ceremonial face of the city. Several of the palaces and other buildings are outstanding examples of world architecture. They include the vast Winter Palace, the principal feature of Palace Embankment and Palace Square. Also worthy of attention are the Mikhailovsky Palace, the architecture along Nevsky Prospekt and the Engineers' Castle, which overlooks the expanse of the Field of Mars.

CATHEDRALS AND CHURCHES
St. Petersburg has 10 cathedrals, 39 Orthodox churches, Lutheran and Roman Catholic churches, an Armenian-Gregorian church, a Buddhist temple, a Muslim mosque and two synagogues. The world-famous cathedrals are: the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral of the Holy Trinity - one of the leading examples of 18th century Russian ecclesiastical architecture; the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan - a monument of Russian military glory, featuring trophies from the Patriotic War of 1812; and an example of classicist architecture - the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ ("The Saviour on the Blood").

St. Petersburg
MEMORIALS OF MILITARY GLORY
Patriotism, heroism, self-sacrifice and valour arouse particular respect. It is not surprising that the people's feats of arms are reflected in the splendid architecture, the numerous monuments and the names of streets and squares in St. Petersburg.

THE SUMMER GARDEN
The Summer Garden is one of the favourite spots in our city for locals and visitors alike. It is situated in one of the outstanding sections of embankment on the left bank of the Neva and occupies nearly 12 hectares. The garden was created in 1704 according to an idea of Peter I; it became his formal residence and the city's greatest adornment.

ARTS' SQUARE
Arts' Square (Ploshchad Iskusstv) comprises the Russian Museum, the Mussorgsky Opera House, the Musical Comedy Theatre, the Great Hall of the Philharmonia and the Ethnographic Museum. From 1819-1825 a palace designed by architect Karl Rossi was built for Tsar Alexander I's brother Mikhail. Today the Mikhailovsky Palace is the home of the Russian Museum, one of the world's great museums containing the largest collection of Russian fine arts: ancient icons, paintings by Kiprensky, Shchedrin, Venetsianov, Bryullov, Kramskoy, Repin, Surikov, Serov and Vrubel, portraits by Nikitin, Rokotov, Argunov, Levitsky and Borovikovsky.

PETER AND PAUL FORTRESS
Peter and Paul Cathedral is the oldest church in St. Petersburg; building started within a month of the city's foundation on 29 June 1703. It was completed on 1 April 1704 and dedicated to the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. Peter and Paul Fortress is the Imperial burial-vault: it contains the remains of almost all the Russian Emperors and Empresses. Marble sarcophagi are installed over the graves of the Tsars and members of their families.

THE SUBURBS
Over the course of two centuries from St. Petersburg's foundation in 1703, magnificent palace and park complexes were constructed close to the Russian capital: Peterhof (Petrodvorets), Strelna, Oranienbaum (Lomonosov), Tsarskoye Selo (Pushkin), Pavlovsk, Gatchina and a number of other country residences for Emperors, Grand Princes and grandees. They reflect all stages in the development of Russian architecture and landscaping from the 18th to 20th centuries.

St. Petersburg
The majestic appearance of St. Petersburg is achieved through a variety of architectural details including long, straight boulevards, vast spaces, gardens and parks, decorative wrought-iron fences, monuments and decorative sculptures. The Neva River itself, together with its many canals and their granite embankments and bridges gives the city a unique and striking ambience. These bodies of water led to St. Petersburg being given the name of "Venice of the North".

St. Petersburg's position below the Arctic Circle, on the same latitude as nearby Helsinki, Stockholm, Aberdeen and Oslo (60° N), causes twilight to last all night in May, June and July. This celebrated phenomenon is known as the "white nights". The white nights are closely linked to another attraction the eight drawbridges spanning the Neva. Tourists flock to see the bridges drawn and lowered again at night to allow shipping to pass up and down the river. Bridges open from May to late October according to a special schedule between approximately 2 a.m. and 4:30 a.m.

The historical center of St. Petersburg, sometimes called the outdoor museum of Architecture, was the first Russian patrimony inscribed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites

St. Petersburg

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City guide to St. Petersburg, Russia with information on travel, transport, shopping, cheap flights, airports, hotel booking, sights, attractions, events and more
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