From the very beginning of its foundation by Peter the Great in 1703, Saint Petersburg has become a symbol of culture and progress in Russia
Saint Petersburg is the second largest city in the country, a major industrial, scientific and cultural center. It is recognized as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, historical part of which is an object of the UNESCO World Heritage.
Today there are in Saint Petersburg:
100 concert halls
45 galleries and exhibition halls
Yearly, about 100 festivals and contests in different spheres of culture and arts, including 50 international ones, are being held in the city
Saint Petersburg is the most tolerant city in Russia. Here there are 268 confessions and religious unions. For disabled persons a state program «Available environment» is being developed. Representatives of international industry every year are confirming achievements of Saint Petersburg in tourism. In 2018, the city has received three World Travel Awards: Worlds Leading Cultural City Destination, Europes Leading Cruise Destination and Europes Leading Heritage Destination. In 2019, the Northern Russian capital received the prestigious World Travel Award as the Europes Leading City Destination.
During 2018 8.2 mln tourists have visited Saint Petersburg, including 3.9 mln international tourists and 4.3 mln Russian tourists. Comparing to 2017, the number increased 9.3%. In 2019, it is expected that number of tourists visiting Saint Petersburg will have further increase of 10%.
Saint Petersburg is a real legend-city, hymned many times by poets and musicians, as well as depicted by many famous artists. Every year millions of tourists are eager to come here to enjoy its various architecture, rich museum collections, to visit famous theatres, to walk along embankments of numerous channels and admire magnificent bridges, which are traditionally raised at nights, letting go deep-sea ships to Ladoga Lake. The famous City on Neva River is acknowledged the Cultural Capital of Russia. Artistic, intellectual, sophisticated expert in arts, and with this, the hero-city, which showed many times its unique strength and brevity during hard moments, happened in its history.
The citys history has started more than 300 years ago, when in 1703 the Russian Emperor Peter the Great founded a new city near the outfall of Neva River to strengthen the western boarders of the country. The choice of location was not accidental a new capital of the Empire was built right at the interface with Europe, which opened a strategically important access to the Baltic Sea.
Peter the Great, a big appraiser of European culture and great admirer of new technologies, wishing to ensure a unique and inimitable style, invited successful foreign architectures, who started to build the new city in cooperation with famous Russian artisans. The Emperor himself also participated in the process: a beautiful city in stone was built along Neva River in accordance with the plan drawn by the tsar, within a record-breaking short time period. Forceful, water-rich River was allayed and enfettered within granitic embankments, though sometimes it still has been showing the character and threaten the citizens by destroying floods.
The Emperor has called the new city Saint Petersburg, dedicated the name to his own Patron Saint Holy Apostle Peter.
Masters, invited from different European countries, have left their input in the citys face, and today in its intriguing silhouette one can note nostalgia for sunny Italy, German devotion to an order, and French lightness and chic. Petersburg has gratefully accepted specialties of different cultures, encapsulated them, interfused and let them free. Not accidentally, this beautiful northern city, which until 1917 was the main city of the Russian Empire, people frequently paralleled with romantic Venice, elegant Versailles and even with the ancient Palmira.
However, despite all these poetic parallels, Saint Petersburg has its own, incomparable face. From the very beginning, it was a true Empire capital: strict and noble, majestic and triumphant, with its endless squares, wide avenues and harmonious rows of palaces.
The newborn Petersburg has become a synthesis of everything the best, what was created by that moment: the tsar-reformer, passionate for everything new and up-to-date, has ordered to send young Russian talented people to learn abroad, and upon their return, they brought not only new knowledge and new technologies, but also traditions of different European cultures. Tolerance to differences, openness and readiness to understand others have become a norm from the very beginning. Sometimes it took even hyperbolic forms. For example, in St. Petersburg Academy of Science, originally the key language was German; and in aristocratic St. Petersburg families for a long time the general language of conversation was French. Following traditions the modern citizens of Saint Petersburg are also known for openness to the world and liberal views.
Despite its young age in historical metrics, Saint Petersburg has become very quickly an active participant of key historical events, making its input in the world history. However, in its own history there were both light and dark pages. One hundred years ago, an outshoot of cruiser Aurora announced a beginning of Revolution, which brought difficult time for all Russian nation. Saint Petersburg at once has changed from a relaxed and bourgeois city with highly developed culture to proletarian center of revolutionary events. People tried to destroy it, but it always restored, its names were changed (firstly to Petrograd, then to Leningrad), but it never changed its character. Every time the city managed to get back to its origin, and finally it returned its original name.
During the World War II, the city for two years and a half was in a Siege. Nevertheless, despite the tragic situation, the Neva City citizens were strong and never gave up. It is hard to believe, but in a hungry, frozen and fully isolated city, where one person received only 125 gram of bread per day, during the whole Siege time the cultural and intellectual life went on: some theatres proceeded with performances, in a city Philarmoniya a classical music was sounding, and large libraries and central bookshop stayed open for visitors. The Heroic Symphony by Shostakovich, presented in the Philarmoniya of the sieged city in 1942, has become a musical symbol of fighting the Siege. The citizens withstood this horrible examination with dignity, keeping humaneness and love for life.
There are many books written about Saint Petersburg, there are many incredible stories told, but sum of its secrets are still uncovered. Many historical persons have connection with this city, and sometimes it seems that its vast spaces are reflection of wide Russian soul, mysterious, endless and inconceivable. Petersburg of Dostoyevsky, Petersburg of Pasternak, Petersburg of Gogol. Nikolay Gumilyov and Joseph Brodsky considered it a hometown. In this very city, a legendary Russian ballet was born: at different times, famous ballet dancers from Petersburg were shining at the world scenes Mathilde Kschessinska, Anna Pavlova, Galina Ulanova. Famous musicians from Saint Petersburg also made their input in the world cultural heritage: Rimsky-Korsakov, Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Mussorgsky.
Petersburg is well known for its hospitality. Understanding and accepting, it is always sincerely glad to welcome guests. And there is no wander, why representatives of different cultures, nationalities and religions are feeling in this city at home. From the very beginning, the city freely and seamlessly could combine antipodes, not opposing them, but cross-fertilizing them. Still multinational, nowadays it continues traditions, being a great example of how it is possible to live in peace and harmony, basing on universal human values.
Today Petersburg is a major global cultural center, where everyone can find something interesting. The Hermitage with is richest arts collection is steadily popular. With this, it only tops a long list of various large and small museums of different types. Opera and ballet theatres are offering their guests both classical and modern performances. Besides, tourists may enjoy the Petersburg architecture, making trip along rivers and channels of the city, or go by bus to its environs.
In the evening, when the city turn on its lights, reflecting in Neva and numerous channels, cozy bars and restaurants open their doors. During the white-nights period, when the sun is not hurry to leave the streets, one can walk the whole night around the city, enjoying its beauty and trying to remember new exciting emotions.
Constantly changing, but always keeping special Petersburg aura, the city continues to be an active participant of modern events in Russia and other world.