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General information

City at a glance

St. Petersburg.

Saint-Petersburg, the most European city in Russia, will celebrate its 310 anniversary in 2013. Founded in 1703 by Russian Emperor Peter the Great as a fortress, it soon became the capital of the Russian Empire. Since 1918 the capital of the state has been returned back to Moscow, but Saint-Petersburg has maintained the unofficial status of the second capital. Now it is the second largest Russian city with 4.7 mln inhabitants, the only city in the world with population over a million of people located so far in the North, a major sea and river port of Russia and a “window to Europe” as Peter the Great desired. Saint-Petersburg combines its fascinating Russian heritage with a distinctly European outlook. Russian Tzars invited the best architects, sculptors, painters, engineers from France, Italy, Netherlands, and Germany to make the new capital unique and most beautiful in whole Europe. Saint-Petersburg has the reputation of the cultural capital of Russia for its outstanding intellectual, architectural, historical and cultural heritage.

This is a city of the great Russian writers Alexander Pushkin, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Joseph Brodsky, composers Sergey Rachmaninoff, Sergey Prokofiev and Dmitry Shostakovich, home of world famous Mariinsky Theatre ballet troupe. The historical center of the city and related group of monuments were included in UNESCO World Heritage List. Saint-Petersburg is also called the City of White Nights due to the nature phenomenon of bright nights in the beginning of summer, when the sun practically never sets down and the twilight merges with the dawn, allowing people to enjoy the romantic walks across the picturesque city. Various festivals and celebrations happened during these sleepless White Nights.

Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood.

Saint-Petersburg has 86 canals and rivers with over 580 bridges crossing them, which gives a reason to call the city “A Northern Venice”. Like Venice, the city is divided up among numerous islands. There were about 150 islands at the beginning of the 19th century, their number has reduced to 42 today. The biggest river is the Neva which is 32 km long within the city limits. One should remember that 23 bridges are separated during the night. The longest one is the Alexander Nevsky Bridge (905,7 metres); the widest one is the Blue Bridge across the Moika River (97,3 metres). The Trinity Bridge, one of the most beautiful bridges crossing the Neva, was built in 1903 as a project of the French engineer Gustave Eiffel, an author of famous Eifel Tower in Paris.

The city changed its name three times. It was renamed into Petrograd in 1914 when the anti-German sentiments increased after the beginning of the First World War. In 1924 the name of the city was changed to Leningrad to commemorate the leader of the Bolshevik revolution Vladimir Lenin. After the Soviet Union has collapsed in 1991, the city of Leningrad got its initial name — Saint-Petersburg.


Saint-Petersburg lies in the temperate continental climatic zone with distinct moderating influence of the Baltic sea. Weather conditions are quite variable all year round, most days of the year are cloudy and gloomy. Weather is characterized with warm, humid and short summers (average daily temperature in July 22°C) and long, cold winters (the record low temperature is -35.9 C). The River Neva within the city limits usually freezes up in November-December, break-up occurs in April. The frost-free period in the city lasts on average for about 135 days. The city has a climate slightly warmer than its suburbs. The local time is the same as in Moscow (GMT +3).


St. Petersburg at night.

Saint-Petersburg is an important node linking Russia with Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. Saint-Petersburg operates a complex transport system, including international airport Pulkovo, five railway terminals with international connections with Germany, Finland, Poland, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus and Baltic countries, and strong public transportation network that includes metro, trams, trolley-busses, buses and shuttle mini-buses. The trip from Saint-Petersburg to Helsinki lasts for about 5 hours. The railway connection between Moscow and Saint-Petersburg was opened in 1851. Now it takes from four and a half to nine hours to get from one capital to another. In 2009 a high speed train Sapsan was launched on the Moscow — Saint-Petersburg route, setting the record as a fastest train in Russia traveling at 290 km/h.

Ferry lines connect Saint-Petersburg with Sweden, Finland, Norway, Estonia. Bus terminal connects Saint-Petersburg with Helsinki, Tallinn and Riga.

Saint Petersburg metro is a very reliable way of transportation within the city as heavy traffic jams are common feature, especially in the downtown area. Metro was opened in 1955, now it has five lines with 63 stations, connecting all railway terminals, and carrying 3.4 million passengers daily. The stations are decorated in marble and bronze, however they are not as beautiful as Moscow ones.

SPB metro map can be found here —
Pulkovo airport:

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