St Petersburg: Historic & Fun Facts
St. Petersburg sheer grandeur and history of Russia’s imperial capital never fail to amaze, but this is also a city with a revolutionary spirit. Whether you’re cruising along the elegant canals, crossing one of St Petersburg’s 342 bridges over the mighty Neva River, you’re never far from water in St Petersburg. This has earned the city unsurprising comparisons to Venice. Stroll around the historic center and contemplate its striking plazas adorned with baroque and neoclassical palaces.
St Petersburg is the cultural center of Russia. Renowned for its world-class ballet and opera, along with its many bridges and art museum.
- Petersburg is Peter the Great’s breathtaking dream to become Venice of the North. 10% of St. Petersburg is covered with water. The city is located on 42 delta islands formed by the Neva River and 90 more rivers and canals.
- St Petersburg has 342 bridges (12 movable ones):
- The longest bridge across the Neva is the Alexander Nevsky Bridge (909 meters with runways).
- Siniy Bridge (The “Blue Bridge) on the Moika River is the widest bridge in the city and in the world: approximately 99.5 meters which equals St. Isaac’s Square.
- St Petersburg has 150 imperial palaces: The Hermitage, St. Isaac’s, Catherine Palace at Tsarskoye Selo, the Kirov, Nevsky Prospekt. Peter the Great modeled the city after European capitals and it has been referred as Russia’s “Window into Europe” for a long time.
- Petersburg had 3 names: Petrograd; Leningrad; and since 1992 St. Petersburg.
- St Petersburg has over 8,000 landmarks.
- The Hermitage museum was founded by Empress Catherine the Great. It has over 3 million items, located in 350 rooms in 5 buildings. It will take around 8 years and 20Km-walk to inspect the entire collection if one lingered only 1 minute per artifact.
- There are more than 140 museums and around 100 theatres.
- Peter & Paul Cathedral is the highest cathedral in Russia, with a bell tower of 122.5 meters.
- Nevsky Prospect is the warmest part of the city; the temperature in winter varies around 10o
- St Petersburg is the hometown of President Vladimir Putin.
- Petersburg is a popular name in the United States of America: 15 cities are called Petersburg.
- The Alexander Column is 47.5-meter high, weighs about 700 tons. It stands by its own weight. (Engineer: Auguste de Montferrand).
- Petersburg Metro system is the deepest underground system in the world! The deepest metro station in the city is Admiralteyskaya, which is at 86-meter under.
- Petersburg’s 600Km trams are listed in the Guinness Book of Records.
- Kunstkamera is the first public museum in Russia, opened in 1714 by Peter the Great.
- St Petersburg used to be a marsh land. Tsar Peter I ordered its foundation to connect Russia to Europe via shipping routes. The cost of the making was 100,000 human deaths.
- 5,000 cats were enlisted to save St Petersburg from rodents. To commemorate their services, 2 bronze cats “Yelisei and Vasilisa” sit in the eaves of the Eliseyev Emporium on Malaya Sadovaya street.
- There’s 24/7 daylight in St Petersburg from mid-June to early July. The phenomenon is called White Nights.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
St Petersburg is an 18th century city of remarkable grandeur, colorful Baroque facades. Its buildings exude the opulence of Tsarist Russia, but are more European in essence than the Kremlin domes of Moscow. It was from St Petersburg that the tsars ruled Russia for two centuries until their downfall in 1917.
One of the world’s greatest art galleries, set in a magnificent palace from which tsars ruled Russia for one-and-a-half centuries, the State Hermitage fully lives up to its reputation as one of the country’s chief glories.
- The art collection is on all three (3) floors of the Winter Palace; and the main two floors of the Little and Large Hermitages. The present Baroque/Rococo Winter Palace was commissioned from Rastrelli in 1754 by Empress Elizabeth.
- Catherine the Great and her successors had most of the interior remodeled in classical style by 1837. The extensive collection is a history of Western European art, displaying the full range of artists such as Rembrandt, Rubens and Picasso and schools including the Florentine and Venetian Renaissance, Impressionism and post-Impressionism.
- The palace encompasses five (5) main buildings, of which the Winter Palace alone has 1057 rooms and 117 staircases. The vastness of the place may need some planning, and several days to visit thoroughly.
WHERE TO GO & GET LOST, A DISCOVERY ROUTE
NEVSKY PROSPEKT: Russia’s most famous street runs 4km from the Admiralty to the Alexander Nevsky Monastery, from which it takes its name. The inner 2.5km to Moscow Station is St Petersburg’s seething main avenue, the city’s shopping centre and focus of its entertainment and street life. Today a walk down Nevsky is a walk into the heart of the new Russia: a ritzy, buzzing mishmash of colorful shop fronts, restaurants, bars, art galleries and perfumeries.
ZOOLOGICAL MUSEUM: This will fulfill your worst fears: a dusty Soviet museum full of stuffed penguins in glass cases. But there is a special reason to visit, it houses the only intact mammoths ever to have been excavated, fur and all.
Other essential sights include the burial place of the Romanovs and the former Trubetskoy Bastion Prison, Peter and Paul Fortress, the lavish interior and golden dome of St. Isaac’s Cathedral many museums on Vasilevsky Island. Just walk, gaze, and get lost.
DVORTSOVAYA PLOSHCHAD: From Nevsky Prospekt, a 15-minute walk along Nevsky prospect brings you to Dvortsovaya Ploshchad (Palace Square), where the stunning green, white and gold Winter Palace appears like a mirage.
ADMIRALTY: A landmark that was the headquarters of the Russian navy, and today the building houses a naval college. it’s a foremost example of the Russian Empire style of classical architecture. Its gardens and fountain are particularly lovely in summer.
PLOSHCHAD DEKABRISTOV: West of the Admiralty, Ploshchad Dekabristov (Decembrists’ Square) is named after the first feeble attempt at a Russian revolution, the Decembrists’ Uprising of 14 December 1825. The most famous statue of Peter the Great, the Bronze Horseman, stands at the river end of the Square.
ST ISAAC’S CATHEDRAL: The lavish dome of St Isaac’s Cathedral, just south of ploshchad Dekabristov, is a dominant piece of the St. Petersburg skyline. Don’t miss the sublime city views from the colonnade (kolonnada) around the drum of the dome.
St. Petersburg is divided into numerous islands by rivers and canals and is often called as the “Northern Venice“. Saint-Petersburg together with its palaces, museums, theatres, distant suburbs and their parks is renowned for its world’s cultural heritage.
The phenomenon of “White Nights” lasts from May 25-26 till July 16-17.
- July 22nd, Solstice Day, is the longest day: 18 hours, 53 minutes. The sun hardly hides behind the horizon, and you cannot find even the brightest stars in the night sky.
- December 22nd, is the shortest day: 5 hours, 52 minutes.
Nicknames of the city:
- Venice of the North, Palmyra of the North
- The Northern Capital of Russia
- Cultural Capital of Russia; Babylon of the Snows;
- Russia’s Crown Jewel; Cradle of the Revolution.
Symbols of the city:
- Angel with a Cross, weather-vane on top of the Peter and Paul Cathedral;
- Little Ship (Korablik), weather-vane on top of the Admiralty tower;
- White Nights
- The Seal: A sea anchor and a river anchor with a scepter — a symbol of royal power — on a red field.
ST PETERSBURG, SOME SITES TO SEE
|State Hermitage Museum||Peter and Paul Fortress||Saint Michael’s Castle
|Mariinsky Palace||Faberge Museum|
|Winter Palace||Peter and Paul Cathedral||Mariinsky Theatre||Nicholas Palace
|Griboyedov Canal (5Km)|
|Peterhof||Savior on the Spilled Blood||Yusupov Palace||Summer Garden||Troitskiy bridge|
|State Museum Mikhailovsky Palace
|Stroganov Palace||Summer Palace of Peter the Great||Botanical Gardens of Peter the Great|
*General Staff Building
|St. Isaac’s Cathedral||The Menshikov Palace||Nevsky Avenue||The Alexander Park|
|Admiralty||Nikolo-Bogoyavlenskiy Morskoy Sobor||Alexander Palace||Field of Mars||Alexander Nevsky Lavra|