Fall under St. Petersburg’s spell – The Globe and Mail

St. Petersburg is a city that confounds expectations. Variously labelled “Venice of the North” (because of its canals and classical architecture) and “Window to the West” (originally by Czar Peter the Great, after he founded it in 1703), the city is delightfully enigmatic, even overwhelming at times – but distinctly Russian.

Having been rebranded consecutively as Petrograd during the First World War (St. Petersburg sounded too Germanic), Leningrad in 1924 to commemorate the Bolshevik leader’s death, and then back to its original name of St. Petersburg in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union, its 308-year history is a saga of spectacular proportions.

Although St. Petersburg is now second to Moscow in population and political importance, the city’s beauty is unrivalled in Russia. A metropolis consisting of a cluster of islands splintered with canals and separated by the mighty Neva River, Peter the Great personally chose its strategic Baltic Sea location. Seduced by the architecture of other European cities, he planned St. Petersburg’s appearance, installed his royal court and instated it as capital, a title it retained for almost two centuries.

I have very little knowledge of st.Petersburg, but the more I read about it, the more I think I will love it as much as Amsterdam!

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