About Russia

St. Petersburg

Since ancient times on the banks of the Neva River and Ladoga Lake the Slavic tribes lived. A well-known «way from the Varangians to the Greeks» passed across the Neva River. At the beginning of the 16th century in the territory of modern St.-Petersburg there were some tens of villages. Till the beginning of the 17th century the lands along the banks of the Gulf of Finland belonged to the Russian state, but according to conditions of Stolbovsky Peace accepted in 1617 Russia lost both it and an exit to the Baltic Sea. Approximately hundred years later Peter I could return these lands and include them in the Russian Federation forever.

The history of St.-Petersburg began on May, 16th, 1703. The Peter and Paul Fortress was founded on a small Zayachiy Island on that very day, and already on the 24th of May the first city building started being constructing – it was Cabin of Peter I. Marshy soils, the damp climate and the rivers did not prevent tsar from persistently erecting a new city year after year. The city must become a capital of the state and one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

St. Petersburg

St.-Petersburg was erected very quickly. By the end of 1703 the customs and the city market were opened, the construction of seaport was started. In 1704 the Admiralty dockyard was founded, the Summer garden was planned and arranged, the first Russian stock exchange opened. Next year the Admiralty was laid, the first Gostiniy Dvor was constructed in Trinity Square. In 1706 the first military ship constructed on the Admiralty dockyard was launched; the first plan of St. Petersburg was approved.

Every year the city became larger and more beautiful. In 1710 on the bank of the Neva River Alexander Nevsky Lavra was founded, the icon of Our Lady of Kazan, one of the main orthodox sanctity, was carried to St. Petersburg; the first cemetery and the first school were established, the construction of the Menshikov Palace on Vasilyevsky Island was started. In 1711 the Nevsky prospect, the Cast House, the Arsenal were founded. In the city a lot of administrative and state buildings arose; notable boyars and noblemen, Peter's I associates migrated to St. Petersburg, all important state affairs were solved here. It is no wonder, that in 1712 the capital was officially transferred from Moscow to St. Petersburg.

In 1714 Peterhof was founded, Peter I issued a well-known edict according to that the construction of stone buildings was allowed only in St. Petersburg, and all visitors had to carry with themselves «a wild stone». The new plan of Petersburg provided construction of houses close to each other with facades faced to the street. By that time in St. Petersburg about 25 thousand people already lived. In 1715 Peter I published the decree forbidden a new houses’ construction without architectural plans; approximately then peasants began migrating in a vicinities of the capital.

By 1725 in St. Petersburg the State boards, Main police office, Base Admiralty hospital, the Russian academy of sciences were established; the Church of the Annunciation situated in Alexander Nevsky Lavra, the sugar factory, the weapon factory were constructed. The city quickly expanded, it did not have enough areas, that’s why the territories adjoining to Nevsky prospect became drainage project zones and instead of them administrative, industrial and residential buildings began being constructed. The population of St.-Petersburg has consisted already of 40 thousand people.

In the second quarter of the 18th century the buildings of Twelve boards, Kunstkammer, the cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Saviour, porcelain factory, glass factory were constructed; Life Guards Izmailovsky Regiment and the artillery school, the First Shlyakhetsky Cadet corps were established. Anna Ioannovna published the decree concerning of the width of the Petersburg streets and rules of building, and also divided the city into five parts: Admiralty, Vasilyevsky, St.-Petersburg, Casting and Moscow. The city expanded up to the Fontanka River. The channels of Vasilyevsky Island arranged at Peter I similar to Venetian ones, were filled up and received the name of lines, and the main streets of the city also received the first official names. By 1750 in St.-Petersburg about 95 thousand people lived, and approximately 150 streets was arranged. In 50-70th years of the18th century the Nikolo-Bogoyavlenskyi Cathedral, the Church of Assumption of Our Holy Lady in Sennaya Square, the Church of Our Lady of Vladimir, The Marble Palace, Tuchkov Bridge were constructed. “Academy of three the most notable arts» was established. Catherine the Great issued an edict interdicting wooden houses’ construction at the Admiralty side. During her government all quays «were dressed in granite». It was she who bough the first collection of the painting which put the beginning of the Hermitage. In 1782 the monument to Peter I situated in Senatskaya Square («Bronze Horseman») was opened. In 1784 the population of the city was about 192 thousand people. St.-Petersburg was divided into 10 administrative parts.

By the end of the 18th century in the city there was The Big Gostiniy Dvor located in Nevsky prospect, well-known bridges with four turrets and chains across the Fontanka, the Main Chemist’s-shop in Million street, the Tavrichesky Palace, Imperial public library, The Mikhailovsky Castle. The first guidebook of St.-Petersburg was published. In 1800 in the city lived about 220 thousand people.

In the first quarter of the 19th century the Elagin, Krestovsky, Gutuevsky and Rezviy Islands were included in the city boundary. The first Russian Teachers Training Institute, Catherine Institute, Smolny Institute (Institute for Noble Maidens), Spiritual Academy, Mountain Institute were established in St. Petersburg. In the city there was a first metallic bridge and stone roadways. Rostral Columns and a building of the Stock exchange were erected on the Spit of the Vasilyevsky Island. In 1825 the revolt of Northern society was crushed in Senatskaya Square. In the same year The Mikhailovsky Palace was built. (At present State Russian museum is placed here).

In the second quarter of the 19th century in St. Petersburg there was a first hanged bridge (the Bank Bridge with four griffins across the Catherine channel). Alexander’s ironworks was opened. It was on this ironworks that the well-known fencing of the Summer garden was made. A stone Narva triumphal arch was built; the chariot with the Genius of Glory was installed at the arch of the General Staff.

In 1832 in Palace Square the Alexandrinsky column with a figure of the angel leaning the cross was erected. Next year K. Rossi designed and constructed the most unique on proportions street (at present it is street of Architect Rossi). To the middle of the 19th century Egyptian sphinxes appeared on the quay of Academy of arts, monuments to Kutuzov and Barclay-de-Tolly were erected in front of the Kazan Cathedral. Nikolaevsky railway connecting St.-Petersburg and Moscow began being built and the first train was constructed. There was a first public transport. The Mariinsky Palace situated in Isaac’s Square was erected, "Passage" was opened.

In the middle of the 19th century more than 500 thousands people already lived in St.-Petersburg. At the beginning of 50th years of the 19th century Nikolaevsky (at present - Moscow) station was constructed, under the same project station in Moscow was built, the regular communication between two cities was arranged. In 50-70th years of the 19th century in Petersburg Metal factory, Nevsky Casting Factory, Mechanical factory, the Sea Ministry were founded. The Novo-Mikhailovsky palace at Palace Embankment and St. Isaac’s Cathedral were constructed. The monument to Nikolay I was erected in front of St. Isaac’s Cathedral. In St.-Petersburg the new building decree regulating height of being under construction buildings was published, the city was divided into 12 administrative parts.

Last two decades of the 19th century in Petersburg the Maliy Theatre situated on the Fontanka was founded. The first telephone station located in Nevsky prospect and the first power station on the Moika started working. St. Petersburg became the first European city, completely lighted with electricity. The first cinema was opened in Nevsky prospect. At the end of the 19th century the population of St.-Petersburg was already 1 million people.

In the 20th century the city expanded even more quickly, than earlier. In 1903 the Trinity Bridge across the Neva was opened, in 1904 Vitebsk station and the Theatre of Vera Komissarzhevskaya began to act. On January, 9th, 1905 peace demonstration of workers and peasants was shot near to the Winter Palace that was the cause of the first Russian revolution. Next two years the Temple of Savior-on-the-Blood was opened, the regular trolley-bus traffic along Nevsky prospect began; the first Russian film was produced. In 1910 Russian military dirigible flew above Petersburg at the first time. By this time almost 2 million people already lived in the city.

Since 1911 till 1917 in St.-Petersburg the Bridge of Peter the Great across the Neva (Bolsheokhtinsky) and movable Palace Bridge were opened, The "Astoria" Hotel and a building of trading Mertence house were constructed. In 1917 St. Petersburg became the center of revolution, the Temporary government operated here and the Soviet government was formed. After the authority’s change the city was renamed at once into Petrograd. 2, 5 million people lived here. Next year the capital was transferred from Petrograd to Moscow.

In 1919 the Big Drama Theatre, the Museum of City, the House of Arts were opened. In 20th years in Petrograd the main streets were renamed, ensemble of Smolny Institute became a municipal establishment. After Lenin’s death in 1924 Petrograd changed the name for Leningrad. Institutes and houses of culture were opened, monuments to Lenin were erected, construction of residential districts continued.

In 1931 the express train «the Red arrow» started to run between Leningrad and Moscow. In 30th years in the city churches were destroyed and collapsed. In 1935 the general plan of city development was worked out. At the end of 30th years Volodarsky Bridge was constructed and the Bridge of Lieutenant Schmidt was reconstructed. The first TVs started to be produced at the factory under the name Kozitskogo, regular telecasting has begun. The obelisk was installed on the Black river on a place of Pushkin’s duel. To the beginning of 40th years 3 200 thousand people lived in Leningrad.

In 1940 the Leningrad underground’s construction began. Soon after the World War II beginning, Leningrad was surrounded by armies of Hitler. Tens thousand people have been evacuated, for those who remained was organized «the Road of a life» on an ice of Ladoga Lake. In 1942 some hundreds thousand people perished in a blockade Leningrad because of famine and a cold. Next year siege was broken; the first echelon with the provision came to Finnish station. All city parks and gardens, already cut down for a long time, were dug up under kitchen gardens. In 1944 the population of the city was 560 thousand people. In the second half of 40th years Leningrad was gradually restored, factories and plants started working, parks were arranged. To honor the Leningrad defenders monuments and memorials were opened. In 50th years of the 20th century the air terminal in the Pulkovo was opened, the first line of the Leningrad underground began acting (from Revolt Square till Avtovo), the Museum of Leningrad history was opened. It was in the Campus Martius that one began to light first in the country Eternal fire; in the city residential buildings were built everywhere.

In 60th years the television tower was erected on Aptecarsky Island, Bridge of Alexander Nevsky, the Palace of sports "Yubileyniy", Big Concert Hall "Octyabrsky" were constructed. Such districts as Pargolovo, Grazhdanka, Kupchino were included into the city boundaries. The third general plan concerning of Leningrad development was approved. In 70th years of the 20th century in Leningrad the monument to Lenin located in Moscow Square, Dostoevsky’s Literary-memorial Museum, a new airport "Pulkovo" were opened. The construction of the Leningrad atomic power station was finished; the obelisk to Decembrists was installed in the Peter and Paul Fortress, the Memorable hall of a monument to Heroic Defenders of Leningrad was opened, construction of a dam in Gulf of Finland was begun.

In 80th years Blok's Museum-apartment, the Palace of Youth and Kantemirovsky Bridge across the Big Nevka were opened. The obelisk dedicated to «the Hero-town Leningrad» was erected in Square of Revolt. The plan concerning of Leningrad and region’s development till 2005 was work out. In 1988 in Leningrad 5 million people lived. In 1989 the historical center of Leningrad and its palace and park ensembles of the suburbs were included in the List of the world cultural heritage of UNESCO.

In 1991 its historical name - St.-Petersburg was returned to the city. In the same year the monument to Peter I designed by architect Shemyakin was erected in the Peter and Paul Fortress. In 90th years the churches and cathedrals of St. Petersburg were returned to religious communities, the International charity fund of city rescue was founded, the monument to the Siskin-Pyzhik was opened on the Fontanka nearby the Summer garden. The sphinxes devoted to the victims of political repressions were installed at quay of the Neva River opposite to "The Crosses". The Museum-monument the Temple of Savior-on-the-Blood was restored and opened for visitors.

At the beginning of the 21-th century St.-Petersburg become a huge city with many millions population which continues growing and developping. It is a cultural capital of Russia and the largest industrial city of the North-Western region.