In the summer whilst visiting the royal palaces, the fountains and the gardens, rent a historical costume so you can walk through all this beauty knowing how the nobility used to walk there, feeling like yesterday, holding arms and parasols. The city is often called Russia´s cultural capital for its historical heritage, diverse museums and well-preserved sights of royal pre-revolutionary Russia. It is the birthplace of Russia´s most vivid cultural achievements, literature, the setting for Dostoyevsky´s Raskolnikov and Pushkin´s Eugene Onegin.
Until 1918 St Petersburg was Russia´s official capital. The city was renamed in August 1914 and until February 1924 was called Petrograd, then from that same February and until July 1991 it was Leningrad. For the past 17 years it has retained its historic name of Saint Petersburg, whereas the Russians still refer to it as simply Piter – a rose that smells just as magnificent and remains just as Russian by any given name.
St Petersburg was founded on 27 May 1703. It is the most Northern city in the world with a population of over 1 million.
Built on a series of islands, St Petersburg often requires the crossing of one or more bridges for getting from one point to another. Some of the bridges are considered to be quite unique architectural constructions. The greatest artists of their time were summoned there in the 18th century to transform the city into a symphony of marble, malachite, and gold.
The world-famous ballet-school at Marijnsky theatre (also known as the Kirov ballet) has performances to satisfy the highest of expectations. From here, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, and Rimsky-Korsakov went forth to conquer the world and make Russian music and dance a standard of class, to which nothing compares even today.
A historical collection of natural misfortunes are assembled at the Kunstkamera. It was the first museum in Russia, established by Peter the Great on the Neva Riverfront facing the Winter Palace. The museum was dedicated to preserving natural and human curiosities and rarities. The tsar´s personal collection features a large assortment of human and animal fetses with anatomical deficiencies, which Peter bought from foreign anatomists and pharmacologists. Some of the most gruesome items are the heads of Catherine I´s lover and his sister, preserved in alcohol and still being exhibited. In the 1830s, the Kunstkamera collections were distributed among newly established imperial museums, the most important being the Museum of Anthropology and Etnography, with a collection approaching 2.000,000 items.
The loss of its status as a capital has given Petersburgers a unique outlook on the world. The pace of life here is less intensive. On the other hand, however, in no other city you can find such a vast quantity of connoisseurs of local landmarks and legends. This is a city of bookworms, cranks, scholars and unacknowledged geniuses. “Leningrad possesses the painful complex of a spiritual center that has been somewhat deprived of its administrative rights. The combination of inferiority and superiority makes him a very sarcastic gentleman.” Dovlatov wrote.
Peterhof is a Dutch word meaning "Peter´s Court". Peter was fascinated by the West and took on many of its customs in his court, switched to the Julian calendar, and so on. European influence is abound in the Peterhof, called the Russian Versailles.
The palace-ensemble along with the city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.