St. Petersburg is Russia’s Imperial capital in the truest sence – Europe’s first and only purpose-built capital city, conceived as the seat of Emperors that would put Europe’s other royal capitals to shame! And like the best Russian projects, built with almost unlimited funds, by the best who could be found anywhere!
If Moscow is Russia’s medieval fortified stronghold, then St. Petersburg is the jewel in its rococo crown. St. Petersburg was the private, personal project of Tsar Peter the Great – who saw the potential of a wil area of nothern bogland, islands and marshes, and carved Europe’s most sophisticated new capital there from scratch. German engineers, Italian architects, French philosophers, Belgian patissers, Spanish governesses, Swiss bankers – a bottomless budget summoned the best that Europe could muster to build the new city. In fact the true honours for building the new city must go to Peter’s later successor, Catherine the Great – a lifelong admirer of St. Petersburg and Russian culture, despite having been born in Germany as Princess Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst. Despite a near-tragedy during WW2 that saw the city besieged and nearly starved out of existence, today’s post-soviet St. Petersburg has been lovingly restored – once again taking the place Tsar Peter imagined for it, as the city that would be the envy of Europe.
ST PETERSBURG MUST SEE: The Winter Palace & Hermitage State Collection, The Peter & Paul Fortress. The Russian Museum, the Yusupov Palace, Canal-Boat Trip, Jewish Heritage
ST PETERSBURG EXCURSIONS & DAY-TRIPS: Peterhof Palace, Pavlovsk Palace, Tsarskoe Selo or Pushkin (the Catherine Palace), Kronstadt, other Royal Palaces around St. Petersburg