St. Petersburg, Russia
Saint Petersburg is Russia's 2nd-largest city after Moscow with almost 5.2 million inhabitants, and one of the most beautiful cities in the World, founded in 1703 by Tsar Peter the Great as his "Window to the West". It is also an important Russian port situated on the Neva River, at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea.
St. Petersburg is a city of canals and rivers built on 101 islands and linked by 350 graceful bridges, thus earning the name of "Venice of the North". It has one of the most beautiful architecture in Europe and has all the ingredients for an unforgettable travel experience: high art, lavish architecture, wild nightlife, an extraordinary history and rich cultural traditions that have inspired and nurtured some of the modern world's greatest literature, music, and visual art. From the mysterious twilight of the White Nights to world-beating opera and ballet productions on magical winter evenings, St. Petersburg charms and entices in every season.
In 1914, St. Petersburg's name was changed to Petrograd, then to Leningrad in 1924, and back to Saint Petersburg in 1991. Between 1713-1728 and 1732-1918, Saint Petersburg was the imperial capital of Russia as well as its cultural capital. In 1918, the central government bodies were moved to Moscow.
Saint Petersburg is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list as an area with 36 historical architectural complexes and around 4000 outstanding individual monuments of architecture, history and culture. The city has 221 museums, 2000 libraries, more than 80 theaters, 100 concert organizations, 45 galleries and exhibition halls, 62 cinemas and around 80 other cultural establishments. Every year the city hosts around 100 festivals and various competitions of art and culture, including more than 50 international ones.
The city is not only home to the world-famous Hermitage Museum and the Russian Museum with its rich collection of Russian art, but also the palaces of Saint Petersburg and its suburbs, so-called small town museums and others like the museum of famous Russian writer Dostoyevsky; Museum of Musical Instruments, the museum of decorative arts and the museum of professional orientation.