Saint Petersburg is Russia’s second-largest city after Moscow, with a population of five million people in 2012, and an important Russian port on the Baltic Sea. It is legally recognized as a federal topic (a federal city). Tsar Peter the Great established it on May 27, 1703, on the Neva River, at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. Saint Petersburg was renamed Petrograd in 1914, Leningrad in 1924, and Saint Petersburg again in 1991. Saint Petersburg served as Russia’s imperial capital from 1713 to 1728 and again from 1732 until 1918. The central government bodies relocated to Moscow in 1918.
Saint Petersburg is Russia’s most Westernized city, as well as its cultural hub. It is the world’s northernmost metropolis, with a population of over one million people. Saint Petersburg’s Historic Center and Related Groups of Monuments is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Hermitage, one of the world’s biggest art museums, is located in Saint Petersburg. Saint Petersburg is home to a high number of foreign consulates, multinational enterprises, banks, and businesses.
Saint Petersburg – Info Card
|FOUNDED :||Established May 27, 1703|
Federal city Day May 27
|TIME ZONE :||MSK (UTC+03:00)|
|AREA :||1,439 km2 (556 sq mi)|
|COORDINATES :||59°57′N 30°18′E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 46.14%|
• Female: 53.86%
|ETHNIC :||Russian 80.1%, Ukrainian 1.3%, Belarusians 0.8%, Tatar 0.6%, Armenian 0.6%, Jewish 0.5%, Uzbek 0.4%, Tajik 0.3%, Azeri 0.3%, Georgian 0.2%, Moldovan 0.2%, Finns 0.1%, other 1.3%, not specified 13.4%|
|AREA CODE :||812|
|POSTAL CODE :|
|DIALING CODE :||+7 812|
Tourism in Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg has a rich historical and cultural legacy and is hence a popular tourist destination.
The city’s and its surrounds’ architectural ensemble from the 18th and 19th centuries has been kept in almost untouched condition. Saint Petersburg has become a unique collection of European architectural styles over the last three centuries for a variety of causes, including large-scale damage during World War II and the development of contemporary structures during the postwar era in Europe’s biggest historical towns. As modern architectural ‘prestige projects’ tended to be built in Moscow, Saint Petersburg’s loss of capital city status helped the city retain many of its pre-revolutionary buildings; this largely prevented the rise of mid-to-late-20th-century architecture and helped maintain the architectural appearance of the historic city center.
Saint Petersburg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with 36 historical architectural complexes and around 4000 outstanding individual monuments of architecture, history, and culture. For people interested in witnessing Saint Petersburg’s cultural legacy, new tourism programs and sightseeing trips have been devised.
There are 221 museums, 2000 libraries, more than 80 theaters, 100 music groups, 45 galleries and exhibition halls, 62 cinemas, and over 80 more cultural facilities in the city. Every year, the city holds about 100 festivals and numerous art and cultural events, including more than 50 international ones.
Despite the economic instability of the 1990s, not a single major theatre or museum was closed in Saint Petersburg; on the contrary, many new ones opened, such as a private museum of puppets (opened in 1999), the third of its kind in Russia, with collections of over 2000 dolls, including ‘The multinational Saint Petersburg’ and ‘Pushkin’s Petersburg.’ Saint Petersburg’s museum scene is highly diversified. The city is not only home to the world-famous Hermitage Museum and the Russian Museum, both of which have extensive collections of Russian art, but also to the palaces of Saint Petersburg and its suburbs, so-called small town museums, and others such as the museum of famous Russian writer Dostoyevsky, the Museum of Musical Instruments, the Museum of Decorative Arts, and the Museum of Professional Orientation.
Saint Petersburg’s musical scene is rich and diversified, with the city currently hosting a number of yearly carnivals.
Ballet performances have a distinct position in Saint Petersburg’s cultural life. The Petersburg School of Ballet has been recognized as one of the greatest in the world. Russian classical school traditions have been handed down from generation to generation among great instructors. The art of renowned and significant Saint Petersburg dancers like as Rudolf Nureyev, Natalia Makarova, and Mikhail Baryshnikov was and continues to be adored worldwide. Contemporary Petersburg ballet consists not only of typical Russian classical school ballets, but also of ballets by artists such as Boris Eifman, who pushed the boundaries of rigorous classical Russian ballet to nearly unfathomable lengths. He merged classical ballet with avant-garde style, then with acrobatics, rhythmic gymnastics, dramatic expressiveness, film, color, light, and lastly with spoken word, while remaining true to the classical foundation (he was a choreographer at the Vaganova Academy of Dance).
Climate of Saint Petersburg
The city’s latitude of 60°N causes significant seasonal change in day duration. At the end of December, days are fewer than 6 hours long, yet it never gets darker than twilight during the White Nights season in June. In late fall and early winter, not only are the days short, but the weather might be cloudy for weeks with little sign of blue sky, which can be discouraging. Early spring is the driest season with the least amount of precipitation. July and August are often the rainiest months, however the difference is generally not significant enough to cause concern. However, if you are concerned about this, it is a good idea to have an umbrella or raincoat on hand.
There aren’t many tourists—even domestic tourists—from November to March, so you won’t see even the tiniest indication of the summer’s enormous lineups at the Hermitage. In the snow, Saint Petersburg’s neoclassical streets are breathtakingly stunning. Temperatures may vary from pleasant (just above freezing) to severely frigid. It may drop significantly below normal temperatures, to -25°C (-13°F) and lower, with heavy humidity and wind, so dress warmly. Most major tourist sites (with the exception of fountains and other forms of water transportation, of course) remain open, and some hotels offer reduced rates during this period.
Snow cover lasts from November to early April on average (late April in the countryside), with the majority of it falling during the first part of the winter. Snow is not usually cleared from roadways in a timely manner, which may aggravate traffic concerns. Slipping may be dangerous in the winter since the surfaces are often coated with ice. Wear excellent boots, take short steps, and keep an eye on your feet! Be wary of icicles that fall from rooftops.
Rivers and canals are often frozen from late November until April. Typically, the Neva is navigable from late April to November, and during this time, most of its massive bridges are pulled up to let ships to cross for several hours each night according to a published timetable. During the White Nights, this is a stunning sight, but it is also a big transportation impediment.
In April, dog feces rising from beneath the snow, muck from melting snow, and dust that accumulates as it dries up may be aggravating.
Triumph Day (eн оед) is observed on May 9 to commemorate the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany. This day begins with a military parade on Palace Square, directly in front of the Hermitage, followed by a visit to various war monuments, the presentation of flowers to war veterans dressed in full military uniforms, and an evening parade down Nevsky Prospekt that includes survivors of the Siege of Leningrad.
During the legendary White Nights (approximately 11 June–2 July), when the sun sets only for a short period of twilight and the streets keep alive around the clock, June is peak tourist season. The final 10 days of June, during the White Nights Festival of all-day performances, concerts, festivals, and parties, are the busiest of the season, and reservations for lodging and transportation might be challenging. Plan ahead of time.
The months of July and August are often the hottest. Because this is a northern city, it seldom gets particularly hot, yet even moderate heat may be difficult to take in summer due to the excessive humidity. Rain showers generally come and go throughout this period, so it’s a good idea to have an umbrella or rain jacket on hand at all times, even on bright, clear days.
Late September to early October is a beautiful time to visit the city. The temperatures drop to a comfortable level, frequently with strong breezes, and the visitors have all left. Rain is still a typical occurrence.
Fountains are operational from May through mid-September. From May through October, most trees are in bloom.
When planning your visit, take in mind school holidays, when museums and other such facilities might become much more busy. Early November, the first part of January, and late March are all times when schools are closed. Furthermore, general holidays are observed from the New Year through early January, as well as in early May.
Keep in mind that New Year’s is the most important holiday in Russia. Getting a hotel room at this period is typically not an issue, but be prepared for enormous crowds and loud festivities.
Geography of Saint Petersburg
The city of Saint Petersburg has a total size of 605.8 square kilometers (233.9 sq mi). Saint Petersburg proper (consisting of eighty-one municipal okrugs), nine municipal towns – (Kolpino, Krasnoye Selo,Kronstadt, Lomonosov, Pavlovsk,Petergof, Pushkin, Sestroretsk,Zelenogorsk) – and twenty-one municipal villages cover an area of 1,439 square kilometers (556 square miles).
Petersburg is located in the central taiga lowlands, along the beaches of the Gulf of Finland’s Neva Bay and river delta islands. Vasilyevsky Island (together with the artificial islands between Obvodny canal and Fontanka, and Kotlin in the Neva Bay), Petrogradsky, Dekabristov, and Krestovsky are the biggest. The latter, as well as Yelagin and Kamenny islands, are primarily covered by parks. The Karelian Isthmus, located north of the city, is a major tourist destination. Saint Petersburg, in the south, traverses the Baltic-Ladoga Klint and joins the Izhora Plateau.
Saint Petersburg’s height spans from sea level to 175.9 meters (577 feet) at the Orekhovaya Hill in the Duderhof Heights in the south. A portion of the city’s land west of Liteyny Prospekt is just 4 meters (13 feet) above sea level and has been subjected to many floods. Floods in Saint Petersburg are generated by a long wave in the Baltic Sea, which is caused by weather conditions, winds, and the shallowness of the Neva Bay. The four most destructive floods were in 1824 (421 centimeters or 166 inches above sea level, destroying over 300 structures), 1924 380 centimeters or 150 inches, 1777 321 centimeters or 126 inches, 1955 293 millimeters or 115 inches, and 1975 281 centimeters or 111 inches. The Saint Petersburg Dam was built to avoid floods.
Since the 18th century, the city’s topography has been artificially lifted, in some areas by more than 4 meters (13 feet), resulting in the merging of multiple islands and a change in the city’s hydrology. Other notable rivers in the federal subject of Saint Petersburg, in addition to the Neva and its tributaries, include the Sestra, Okhta, and Izhora. Sestroretsky Razliv is the biggest lake in the north, followed by Lakhtinsky Razliv, Suzdal Lakes, and several smaller lakes.
Because to its position at around 60° N latitude, the day length in Petersburg fluctuates throughout the year, ranging from 5:53 to 18:50. The white evenings are a period from mid-May to mid-July when twilight may continue all night.
Economy of Saint Petersburg
Petersburg is Russia’s major trade gateway, financial and industrial center, specializing in oil and gas trade, shipbuilding yards, aerospace industry, radio and electronics, software and computers; machine building, heavy machinery and transport, including tanks and other military equipment, mining, instrument manufacture, ferrous and nonferrous metallurgy (production of aluminum alloys), chemicals, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, publishing and printing, food agrochemicals, food agrochemicals, food agrochemicals, food agro Lessner, one of Russia’s two pioneering vehicle manufacturers (together with Russo-Baltic), Lessner; established in 1904 by machine tool and boiler maker G. A. Lessner, with designs by Boris Loutsky, it existed until 1910.
The LMZ produces 10% of the world’s power turbines, having manufactured over 2,000 turbines for power plants across the globe. Admiralty Shipyard, Baltic Shipyard, LOMO, Kirov Plant, Elektrosila, Izhorskiye Zavody, and other prominent Russian and foreign firms are registered in Saint Petersburg, as are Sovkomflot, Petersburg Fuel Company, and SIBUR.
Bolshoi Port Saint Petersburg, Kronstadt, and Lomonosov are the three major freight seaports in Saint Petersburg. International cruise ships have docked at Morskoy Vokzal, a passenger port on Vasilyevsky Island’s south-west coast. The first two berths of the New Passenger Port on the west coast of the island were inaugurated in 2008. The new port is part of the city’s “Marine Facade” development project, and it is scheduled to open with seven berths by 2010.
Saint Petersburg is linked to the rest of Russia via a complex system of riverports on both sides of the Neva river, making it the principal connection between the Baltic Sea and the rest of Russia through the Volga-Baltic Waterway.
The Saint Petersburg Mint (Monetny Dvor), established in 1724, is one of the world’s biggest mints, producing Russian coins, medals, and badges. Saint Petersburg is also home to Monumentskulptura, Russia’s oldest and biggest foundry, which produced hundreds of sculptures and statues that can today be seen in public parks around the city and many other places. There are monuments and bronze statues of the Tsars, as well as other notable historical personalities and dignitaries, as well as other world-famous monuments, such as sculptures by Peter Clodt von Jürgensburg, Paolo Troubetzkoy, Pavel Antokolsky, and others.
Toyota established a Camry facility in Shushary, one of Saint Petersburg’s southern suburbs, in 2007, after spending 5 billion roubles (about $200 million). Opel, Hyundai, and Nissan have also made agreements with the Russian government to construct car facilities in Saint Petersburg. During the previous decade, there has been considerable increase in the automotive and auto-parts business.
Saint Petersburg is home to a sizable brewery and distillery sector. Due to the supply and quality of local water, it is known as Russia’s “beer capital,” accounting for more than 30 percent of domestic beer production through its five large-scale breweries, which include Europe’s second largest brewery Baltika, Vena (both operated by BBH), Heineken Brewery, Stepan Razin (both operated by Heineken), and Tinkoff brewery (SUN-InBev).
The city is home to a plethora of local distilleries that manufacture a diverse variety of vodka brands. LIVIZ is the oldest (founded in 1897). Among the most recent is Russian Standard Vodka, which debuted in Moscow in 1998 and established a new $60 million distillery near Petersburg in 2006 (30,000 m2 (320,000 sq ft) with a production capacity of 22,500 bottles per hour). This brand was distributed to approximately 70 countries in 2007.
Saint Petersburg has Russia’s second biggest construction sector, which includes commercial, residential, and road building.
Saint Petersburg’s municipal budget was 179.9 billion rubles (about 6.651 billion US dollars at 2006 exchange rates) in 2006, and it is expected to quadruple by 2012. The federal subject’s gross regional product in 2005 was 667.905 billion Russian rubles (about 23.611 billion US$ at 2005 exchange rates), ranking fourth in Russia after Moscow, Tyumen Oblast, and Moscow Oblast, or 145,503.3 rubles per capita (about 5,143.6 US$ at 2005 exchange rates), ranking 12th among Russia’s federal subjects, with wholesale and retail trade and repair services (24.7 percent) and processing industry (20.9 percent) contributing the most (15.1 percent ).
The city’s budget receipts in 2009 were 294.3 billion rubles (about 10.044 billion US dollars at 2009 exchange rates), while spending totaled 336.3 billion rubles (approximately 11.477 billion US dollars at 2009 conversion rates). The budget deficit was around 42 billion rubles. (about 1.433 billion US dollars at 2009 exchange rates)
Internet, Communication in Saint Petersburg
The number for emergency services is 112.
Most hotels, cafés, restaurants, pubs, and shopping malls provide free wifi.
There are several computer clubs/internet cafes, which are generally filled with youngsters playing Counter-Strike and provide inexpensive internet connection.