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General Info/History of St. Petersburg

(эта страница доступна только на английском)

  

GENERAL INFORMATION

BRIEF HISTORY OF SAINT-PETERSBURG

SAINT-PETERSBURG TODAY


Saint-Petersburg general information 

Geography
St. Petersburg lies on the coast of the Gulf of Finland (the Eastern shore of the Baltic Sea) at the mouth of the Neva River. The city is located on 44 islands. A 32 kilometre-long section of the Neva River flows within the city limits. Ninety small rivers and canals totalling 300km occupy one-tenth of the city's area. Four hundred bridges, 21 of which are drawbridges, adorn the city.

St.Petersburg, one of the largest northern cities in the world, occupies an area of 1400 sq kilometers and is divided into 21 administrative districts. The south-western, southern, eastern and northern districts are located on the mainland, while the central and western districts lie on the islands of the Neva's delta.

Population
Saint-Petersburg is the second largest city in Russian Federation with about 5 million inhabitants. Most of the population is Russian, but there are also Ukrainians, Byelorussians, Letts, Lithuanians, Georgians, Armenians and other nationalities.

Climate
St. Petersburg has a moderate climate, thanks to the warm air from the Atlantic Ocean. The temperature is above zero about 222 days of the year. Winter usually starts in December and lasts until the middle of March. Summer lasts from June to the middle of September. The Petersburg weather is known for its changeability, from one day to the next.

January

February

March

April

May

June
- 7.8°

- 8.9°

- 4.7°

+ 2.7°

+ 9.7°

+15.8°
July

August

September

October

November

December
+19.7°

+18.1°

+10.8°

+ 5.4°

- 1.6°

- 6.4°

St. Petersburg is famous for its White Nights - a period from the last week of June through the last week of July - when the dark of night lasts for only about 40 minutes, and the rest of the night is almost as light as day.

Birthday
The city's birthday is celebrated each year on May 27. The celebration lasts for a whole weekend and the city transforms into one large open stage. Fascinated locals and tourists pour into the streets of the city warmed by the first really warm sun lights.


Brief history of the city 

In ancient times the territory of present-day Petersburg was inhabited by Slavonic tribes. The trade route known as the route "from the Varangians to the Greeks", which connected Northern and Southern Rus and Scandinavia with the Byzantine Empire, passed here.

The favourable geographical location attracted neighbouring northern countries which constantly tried to conquer the area. In 1617, Gustavus II, King of Sweden, seized the territory around the Neva, cutting Russia from the Baltic Sea.

In 1700 Tsar Peter the Great started a war with Sweden known as the Northern War. It ended in 1721 with the victory of Russia, which regained its outlet to the Baltic Sea.

The 18th century. While Russia was still engaged in the Northern war, Peter the Great decided to build a fortress. The foundation of the new Russian fortress-St.Petersburg-was laid on Zayachy Island in the wildest part of the mouth of the Neva in 1703. This year is recognised as the year the city was founded.

After the Peter-and-Paul Cathedral was built within it, the fortress itself was named Petropavlovskaya, the same as the Cathedral. The city growing rapidly on the banks of the Neva River retained the name of St.Petersburg. In 1704 a shipyard, the Admiralty, was built on the river's opposite bank.

In 1712 St. Petersburg became the capital of the Russian state. At first Peter the Great thought to build the city center and the port on Vasilyevsky Island. This project was not carried out. Large-scale construction work was begun on teh left bank of the Neva in the middle of the 18th century.

The new capital grew rapidly and in accordance with a plan drawn up by famous Russian and European architects. Serfs, craftsmen and soldiers from all over Russia were brought in to build palaces, roads, bridges and canals.

In the 18th century Saint-Petersburg became the political, scientific, industrial and cultural centre of Russia. The Kunstkammer, the first Russian museum of natural science, was opened here, as were the first Russian observatory, anatomical theatre and other branches of the Academy of Sciences, founded in 1705. A permanent public theatre, the first Russian newspapers, the Naval Academy and the schools of engineering, artillery and surgery began functioning at about the same time.

Saint Petersburg soon became a large port: English, Dutch, French and German ships called here towardsthe end of the 18th century. The banks of the Neva were laid in granite. Foreign merchants regarded the new Russian capital that had sprung up so rapidly with awe.

The 19th century. The economic role of Saint-Petersburg grew with the development of industry; by the middle of the 19th century it was the country's third largest industrial city.

Construction work was also on the increase: houses were being built along the Neva and its tributaries, canals dug, thoroughfares laid and beautiful architectural ensembles and monuments erected. The Smolny Palace; Peter and Paul Fortress; Senate, St.Isaac's and Mikhailovskaya squares, the Field of Mars Square; the Spit of Vasilyevsky Island, Nevsky Prospekt...are all world-famous architectural landmarks. Thus, in an amazingly short time St.Petersburg became a beautiful city rivalling the other European capitals.

In the early 19th century the city became the centre of an organised revolutionary movement. On December 14, 1825, revolutionaries from among the nobility, who represented the progressive elements among the military, led their troops out to Senate Square. The rebels tried to force the Senate to refuse to pledge allegiance to Nicholas I, the new Emperor, to abolish the autocracy and provide Russia with a constitution. But the fact that the leaders of the uprising had little contact with the common people doomed the uprising and it was brutually suppressed. Five of the leaders were executed. The others were sentenced to hard labour and exiled to Siberia. These courageous men are known as Decemberists, after the month of the insurrection.

In the late 19th century the proletariat of Saint-Petersburg played a leading role in the working-class movement in Russia. In 1895 a young revolutionary Vladimir Lenin founded the League of Struggle for the Emancipation of the working class.

The 20th century. In 1905 the First Russian Revolution broke out. It was provoked by events that took place in St.Petersburg on January 9. Unarmed workers and their families, carrying icons and portraits of the Tsar, marched to the Winter Palace, the royal residence, to hand the Tsar a petition stating their needs. The peaceful demonstrators were massacred by the tsar's troops. The workers of Russia responded with armed resistance and mass strikes. The Revolution of 1905-07 was mercilessly suppressed.

At the outset of World War I, In August 1914, the city was renamed, Petrograd - was its new name. In Feburary 1917 the Second (the bourgeois-democratic) Revolution took place. It dethroned the Tsar in Petrograd. This was a time of dual power - the Petrograd Soviet of Workers and Soldiers Deputies and the Provisional Government.

In October 1917 the Socialist Revolution took place, it was directed by Lenin. The armed uprising seized the Winter Palace, the residence of the Provisional Government. The uprising established in law the victory of the October Socialist Revolution and formed the first Soviet government headed by Lenin. Thus Soviet power was established in Russia.

The Revolution was followed by The Civil War (some European countries supported the Russian counter-revolutionaries). In Februrary 1918 the outskirts of Petrograd became the scene of bitter fighting. This induced the Council of People's Commissars to transfer the capital to Moscow, where the Soviet Government moved to in March, 1918.

In 1924 Lenin died and the city was named after him. From then till 1991 it was known as Leningrad. After the counter-revolutionaries and interventionists were defeated, work to restore and reconstruct the national economy on a socialist basis began. In 1940 Leningrad's industrial output was 12 times that of St. Petersburg in 1913, the year of the greatest industrial boom.

The 900 days of the blockade. On June 22, 1941 Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union. From the very beginning of the war the people of Leningrad displayed heroism: 10 divisions of the Volunteer Corps were formed, with over 200,000 volunteers. Hundreds of thousands citizens were engaged in defence works. In September 1941 the Nazis managed to break through to Leningrad and cut it off from the rest of the country. During the blockade that lasted 900 days the enemy dropped 107,000 demolition and incendiary bombs, and fired close to 150,000 shells on the city, destroying 840 factories and 33 per cent of the houses. The people grew weak from hunger and hundreds of thousands died, but Leningrad did not surrender. The city became a battlefield, and its inhabitants became soldiers.

The entire country supported Leningrad. Supplies were delivered along the 37km-long lifeline across Lake Ladoga throughout the blockade despite the incessant shelling, round-the-clock bombing and ineveitable losses. In the winter caravans of trucks crossed the ice of the frozen lake, in the summer vessels of the Ladoga military flotilla brought in supplies. In all, 1,750,000 people were evacuated across Lake Ladoga from Leningrad during the blockade. In January, 1943, troops of the Leningrad Fronts broke through the German lines, creating an 8 to 11km-wide corridor. A year later, the German forces at Leningrad were completely routed. About 1 million people of citizens are believed to have died as a result of diseases, starvation and bombings. After the war, Soviet authorities undertook to rebuild the city and restore important buildings and palaces.

The Soviet Union collapsed and the new government of independent Russia took power in 1991. In July 1991 the city regained its old name Saint-Petersburg, named in honor of St. Peter. The end of Communism led to the creation of multiple political parties in Saint-Petersburg as elsewhere in Russia and the establishment of a democratic city government.


St. Petersburg today 

Nowadays St Petersburg again is a cultural center, which contains so many historical and cultural sightseeings. Undoubtedly it is one of the greatest Russian and European cities. The cultural capital of Russia, The northern capital of Russia, Northern Venice, The cradle of The 3 Russian Revolutions are just some of the city's names.

However the number of tourists visiting Saint-Petersburg each year goes up steadily, the city doesn't get as many tourists as it could and as it deserves.
That is why we thought helping St. Petersburg attract visitors by helping its visitors might be a good idea.

Recently St. Petersburg celebrated its 300th birthday which happened in May 2003. Great deal of historical spots were reconstructed and renovated as long as roads and bridges for the event. And a great deal of investments had been drawn by the Goverment to prepare the Putin's home-town.




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