he story of Saint Petersburg began in 1703 when Peter the Great laid the first stone in its foundation to the death of Catherine the Great. Saint Petersburg quickly became one of Europe’s most enlightened and vibrant cities.
By 1712, Peter had moved Russia’s capital from Moscow to Saint Petersburg, thereby welcoming much Western influence. With this change came a surge of new artists, architecture and modes of thinking- a true enlightenment period for the people of Saint Petersburg. Under Catherine II, the city transformed itself into a Baroque masterpiece suitable to the lavish tastes of the royal court at the time.
Peter the Great also transformed Saint Petersburg into a thriving capital and port. Peter planned for its construction, urbanization and, inspired by voyages to Holland and England, commissioned foreign architects to materialize his metropolitan vision. Elisabeth, Peter the Great’s daughter, seized power in 1740, thus inheriting her father’s ambitious undertaking. Under Elisabeth, the royal palace was born.
Catherine II succeeded, an admirer of the French philosophers and faithful correspondent to Voltaire, Alembert and Diderot, she put the finishing touches to her predecessors’ work and equipped Neva river, the royal roadway, of granite quays, which are beautifully depicted in paintings, engravings, and luminous watercolors. The life of Court is evoked by the portraits of the most eminent protagonists, an imperial table with sumptuous porcelain service reads: "service to the cameos," a unique furniture made out of steel which Catherine adored along with the other objects that surrounded it in her "hermitage,” the most intimate part of the Winter palace where she casually received friends.
Although just 300 years old, St. Petersburg has a rich and exciting history, full of dramatic events and major historical figures. Founded as Peter the Great’s "window on the West", St. Petersburg enjoys a vibrant, cosmopolitan atmosphere and some of the most beautiful architecture in Europe. For those interested in culture and history, St. Petersburg is the perfect holiday destination.
It is often referred to as the Venice of the North or the Paris of the East, but its beauty is really a brand all its own. From the White Nights festival during the mysterious summer twilight to top theater and ballet productions and concerts on magical winter evenings, the city offers a vibrant cultural life that is second to none.
Now, just after the turn of the new millenium St. Petersburg is still in a transition period, both economically and socially. While the city's industries is still in recession, services and retail sales are gradually improving and more and more foreign businesses are being attracted to the city;s new business climate. Although, still far behind Moscow in economic terms, St. Petersburg had become a modern, rapidly growing commercial city. On the social side, St. Petersburg's younger generations are coping admirably with the economic changes, but unemployment remains high and families and pensioners struggle desperately to make ends meet.