Interesting facts about Saint Petersburg

Saint Petersburg

Saint Petersburg is Russia‘s second-largest city after Moscow.

It is situated on the Neva River at the east end of the Gulf of Finland (part of the Baltic Sea).

As of September 2019, the population of Saint Petersburg is about 5.4 million people.

Saint Petersburg covers a total area of 1,439 square kilometers (556 square miles).

The elevation of Saint Petersburg ranges from the sea level to its highest point of 175.9 m (577 ft) at the Orekhovaya Hill in the Duderhof Heights in the south.


A major historical and cultural center and an important port, Saint Petersburg lies about 640 km (400 miles) northwest of Moscow and only about 7° south of the Arctic Circle. It is the second largest city of Russia and one of the world’s major cities.

Founded by Tsar Peter the Great on 27 May 1703.

For two centuries (1712–1918) it was the capital of the Russian Empire.

old Saint Petersburg painting

The city is remembered as the scene of the February (March, New Style) and October (November, New Style) Revolutions of 1917.

During World War II, Leningrad was surrounded and besieged by the German Wehrmacht from 8 September 1941 to 27 January 1944, a total of 29 months.

On 26 January 1924, shortly after the death of Vladimir Lenin, it was renamed to Leningrad, meaning “Lenin’s City”. On 6 September 1991, the original name, Saint Petersburg, was returned.

Architecturally, it ranks as one of the most splendid and congenial cities of Europe.


Its historic district was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1990. The site was recognised for its architectural heritage, fusing Baroque, Neoclassical and traditional Russian-Byzantine influences.

Palace Square is the central city square of St Petersburg and of the former Russian Empire. Many significant events took place there, including the Bloody Sunday massacre and parts of the October Revolution of 1917. The earliest and most celebrated building on the square, the baroque white-and-azure Winter Palace (as re-built between 1754 and 1762) of the Russian tsars, gives the square its name.

palace square

The Winter Palace was the official residence of the Russian Emperors from 1732 to 1917. Today, the palace and its precincts form the Hermitage Museum. Situated between Palace Embankment and Palace Square, in Saint Petersburg, adjacent to the site of Peter the Great’s original Winter Palace, the present and fourth Winter Palace was built and altered almost continuously between the late 1730s and 1837, when it was severely damaged by fire and immediately rebuilt. The storming of the palace in 1917, as depicted in Soviet paintings and Sergei Eisenstein’s 1927 film October, became an iconic symbol of the Russian Revolution.

winter palace

The Peterhof Palace is a series of palaces and gardens located in Petergof, Saint Petersburg, Russia, commissioned by Peter the Great as a direct response to the Palace of Versailles by Louis XIV of France. It was built throughout the early 18th century. The palace-ensemble along with the city center is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

peterhof palace

The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main Russian Orthodox cathedrals. It is one of the main sights of Saint Petersburg, Russia. The church was built in memory of Alexander II who was assassinated in 1881. Construction began in 1883 and was completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. It has a similar façade to St Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow.

Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

The Naval cathedral of Saint Nicholas in Kronstadt is a Russian Orthodox cathedral built in 1903–1913 as the main church of the Russian Navy and dedicated to all fallen seamen. The cathedral was closed in 1929, was converted to a cinema, a House of Officers (1939) and a museum of the Navy (1980). The Russian Orthodox Church reinstalled the cross on the main dome in 2002 and served the first Divine Liturgy in the cathedral in 2005. In 2013, the Patriarch of Russia, with Prime Minister Dmitriy Medvedev and his spouse attending, conducted the ceremony of grand reconsecration in the now fully restored cathedral.

Naval cathedral of Saint Nicholas

The Peter and Paul Fortress is the original citadel of Saint Petersburg founded by Peter the Great in 1703 and built to Domenico Trezzini’s designs from 1706 to 1740 as a star fortress. In the early 1920s, it was still used as a prison and execution ground by the Bolshevik government. Today it has been adapted as the central and most important part of the State Museum of Saint Petersburg History.

Peter and Paul Fortress

Saint Isaac’s Cathedral or Isaakievskiy Sobor is a cathedral that currently functions as a museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia. It is dedicated to Saint Isaac of Dalmatia, a patron saint of Peter the Great, who had been born on the feast day of that saint. It was originally built as a cathedral but was turned into a museum by the Soviet government in 1931 and has remained a museum ever since.

Isaakievskiy Sobor

Nevsky Prospect is the main street in the city of St. Petersburg It takes its name from the Alexander Nevsky Lavra, the monastery which stands at the eastern end of the street, and which in turn commemorates the Russian hero Prince Saint Alexander Nevsky (1221-1263). Following his founding of Saint Petersburg in 1703, Tsar Peter I planned the course of the street as the beginning of the road to Novgorod and Moscow.

nevsky prospect

The city has 221 museums, 2000 libraries, more than 80 theaters, 100 concert organizations, 45 galleries and exhibition halls, 62 cinemas and around 80 other cultural establishments.

Saint Petersburg has a longstanding and world famous tradition in literature. Dostoyevsky called it “The most abstract and intentional city in the world”, emphasizing its artificiality, but it was also a symbol of modern disorder in a changing Russia.

Because of Saint Petersburg’s northerly location, the city enjoys the “White Nights,” from June 11 to July 2, when daylight extends to nearly 19 hours—another of St. Petersburg’s most acclaimed characteristics.

Saint Petersburg has humid and short summers and long, moderately cold wet winters. The climate of Saint Petersburg is close to that of Helsinki, although colder in winter and warmer in summer because of its more eastern location.

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