History of Saint Petersburg

Brief history of St. Petersburg summarized

With just 3 centuries of life, here is the brief history of St. Petersburg.

St. Petersburg Foundation

Saint Petersburg was founded in 1703 by Peter the Great. The city’s beginnings were humble: just the Peter and Paul Fortress, designed by the Swiss-Italian architect Domenico Trezzini, on the marshy land of the island of Zayachy (Hare), near the mouth of the Neva River. The Tsar himself helped build the fortress.

As any Russian textbook wants you to know, Peter the Great wanted to “open a window to Europe“, which meant not only a port and a marina on the Baltic Sea, but also a city that looked European and lived according to European standards. European standards. The area around Saint Petersburg was previously known as Ingria (or Ingermanland) and was largely populated by Finns.

There was never an official decree on the transfer of the capital to St. Petersburg, but in 1713 the court was established there, and Peter himself began to spend all his time in the new city. The construction of a new capital turned out to be the most expensive of Peter the Great’s many initiatives.

Between 20,000 and 40,000 people worked on the construction of the city; many of them died there. Peter called St. Petersburg “paradise”, but for many it became a graveyard.

Several people were forced to move to Saint Petersburg and each Russian province had to supply the future residents of the new city. In 1725 the population reached 40,000, making Saint Petersburg the second largest city in the country.

In the late 1720s, under Peter II, Peter the Great’s grandson, the court returned to Moscow. But the young tsar died at the age of 14. When the new Empress Anna Ioannovna decided to move the capital back to Saint Petersburg, the main street, Nevsky Prospekt, was already covered with grass.

During the reign of Catherine the Great, who famously said, “I don’t like Moscow at all, but I have no prejudice against Petersburg,” the population of St. Petersburg grew to 160,000. More palaces were built in and around the city, and the empress started an art collection, which would later become the Hermitage Museum.

Under Catherine the Great, the embankments of St. Petersburg were lined with granite, although this unfortunately did not prevent regular flooding.

XIX century

In 1824, St. Petersburg suffered a huge flood (the largest in the history of the city) that caused enormous damage and was depicted in the well-known poem “The Bronze Horseman” by Alexander Pushkin.

St. Petersburg saw its fair share of revolutions, beginning with the failed Decembrist revolt of 1825 and ending with the February and October revolutions of 1917, the first of which toppled the monarchy, while the second handed power over to the Bolsheviks.

Twentieth century

Saint Petersburg enjoyed capital status for just over 200 years. In 1918, Vladimir Lenin moved the capital to Moscow. After his death in 1924, the city was renamed Leningrad.

During World War II, Leningrad withstood a 900-day Nazi blockade, which decimated the city’s population and heavily damaged buildings and infrastructure. Leningrad managed to recover and rebuild quite quickly and became the capital unofficially known as “the northern capital” or “the cultural capital” of the USSR.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was once again renamed Saint Petersburg. The current Russian President Vladimir Putin is from St. Petersburg and pays special attention to his hometown.

Saint Petersburg today

The city was completely renovated for its 300th anniversary in 2003 and its many mansions and palaces are constantly being restored. Saint Petersburg today encompasses 44 islands and is connected by more than 300 bridges. With a population of over 5 million, it remains the second largest city in Russia.

Even if your team doesn’t play in St. Petersburg, consider including a trip to the city in your itinerary. Walking along the beautiful embankments of the city on hot summer nights is a truly unforgettable experience.

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