Consistently voted among the Top Travel Destinations by TripAdvisor, city of St Petersburg is the cultural, bohemian, tram, bridge, rooftop, gastronomic and coffee capital of Russia.
The charming vibe is a reason in itself to come here. If the vibe is not enough, here are some other reasons to visit St P from Valery, our local guide on St Petersburg tours.
50 fun facts about St Petersburg, Russia
- SPb has changed its name several times. The very first name of the city was Saint Petersburg, then after first World War it was changed into Petrograd, after Revolution it became Leningrad and just after the collapse of Soviet Union the first name came back. Below we mention some other version of pronunciation of St Petersburg. In Russian, the city sounds like Sankt Peterburg.
- There were 288 floods in St Petersburg during its 314-year long history. We can say that 9 years out of 10 are marked by another flood.
- There are nearly 600 bridges in Saint-Petersburg, and 22 of them are drawbridges.
- There are more than 70 theatres in St Petersburg and the annual theater festival takes place on April 4-8 in 2016.
- There are nearly 300 museums in the city, and each year the city holds festival The Night of Museums Festival.
- Hermitage is the second world largest and also oldest museum in the world. The collection of the State Hermitage includes over 3 million works of art and world culture artefacts. You can also name your visit into the Hermitage as a “cultural fitness”, because it is total 20 km long way.
- More than 20 international art festivals including International Cultural Forum and nearly 80 musical and theatrical festivals are held each year in Saint Petersburg.
- Total area of the premises of Hermitage is 233 345 sq m, exhibition area is 66 842 sq m and if you want to see all works of art and stop for 1 minute at each exhibit, Hermitage will steal 8 years of your life.
- Isaac Cathedral took 40 years to construct from 1818 to 1858. The Cathedral weights 300 000 tons and its dome is covered with pure gold, and has never been restored.
- The siege of Leningrad lasted for 900 days and millions of people died because of cold winters and hunger but never gave up and the city wasn’t taken.
- Alexander Сolumn created by Montferrand has overall height of 47,5 meters and its weight is 600 tones. However the column is not fixed anyhow – only by its own weight.
- To celebrate the 60th anniversary of Great Patriotic War, the Palace square was covered with green live grass and during several winters it was turned into a huge ice rink.
- Monument to Nicholas 1 on St. Isaac Square is quite unique as it has only two support points. It’s the only such kind of monument in the world.
- There are nearly 300 bars, pubs and night clubs and Saint Petersburg overtakes even Moscow in the status of gastronomic capital of Russia.
- Saint Petersburg is famous by its white nights, which are in the peak during May, June and practically whole July. It’s the time when the day is very long and the sun shines till the midnight and then rises at 3-4 at night, so the nights are not dark.
- European St Petersberg has many analogues with Europe. Peterhof is called the Northern Versailles and it was a royal residence which you can’t stop admiring once you see all this beauty before your eyes.
- To see famous works of Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Picasso, Rubens, Matisse and others head to Hermitage.
- Peter and Paul Fortress is the first building to be constructed in the city. The place was planned to be the fortress to defend the city.
- Peter and Paul Fortress was used as a prison from which no one has ever escaped. Many famous Russian people were put there.
- Peterhof’s Grand Palace Church created by Rastrelli was first reconstructed and first opened in 2014.
- Saint-Petersburg is a coffee capital of Russia, there are a lot of coffee shops everywhere with you huge variety of coffee blends. Coffee Room is very popular place among citizens and now has a chain of 7 lovely cafes around the city.
- Summer Palace and the whole park in Peterhof was occupied by German army during the WWII and was ruined till the ground, so the Palace was restored practically from the beginning, but the statues on the main cascade are original, as they were hidden under the ground.
- Amber room is a world-famous chamber decorated in amber panels, gold leaves and mirrors, located in the Catherine Palace in Tsarskoe Selo near St Petersburg. Original Amber Room consisted of Peter’s the Great own amber, but it was stolen during WWII, so the room was completely reconstructed and open again to the anniversary of Romanov’s family.
- There are culinary specialties that you can find only in Saint Petersburg – Pyshki (Russian donuts) and Korushka (special sort of fish). You may taste pyshki on Bolshaya Konyushennaya street in the original place, known among all citizens and there is a huge line for these sweet donuts during the whole day! And to sample korushka you have to come to St Petersburg in spring from April till May, by the way it smells like… fresh cucumbers!
- Saint Petersburg has its own special vocabulary, with special words like paradnaya (entrance). You may notice the original citizens of Saint Petersburg by these words.
- St Peterburg has its own hockey team SKA and football team Zenit. Noth are a local proud, which the citizens of St Petersburg will fight for till the end.
- World famous Russians from St Petersburg are: writers Pushkin, Nabokov and Dostoevsky, composers Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich, ballet dancers Pavlova and Baryshnikov. Most of the places of their living are now turned into museums. The whole city is full of famous places and streets known by this or that person
- St Petersburg has the most songs written about it than any other Russian city.
- Aurora is a Russian protected cruiser now turned into a museum. This cruiser played an important role in the Russian history during revolution times. It’ll come back to its place on Russia Navy Day this year, which is a national holiday that takes place on the last Sunday of July. Must-see on St Petersburg shore tours.
- Church on Spilled Blood is the only cathedral which was built on the place of assassination of Russian Emperor. Emperor Alexander II. The church was built in his honor.
- The church on Spilled Blood has an outstanding collection of mosaic icons, it has 7000 sq. m of mosaics covering its interior and exterior. The work of art by such Russian masters as Nesterov, Vasnetsov, Kharlamov, Ryabushkin.
- Russian ballet is one of the oldest ballets and Mariinsky theatre is one of the oldest theaters in the world. Vaganova Ballet Academy is the oldest and the best ballet school in the world, and those children who want to become prima ballerinas, dream about studying in this school.
- Mariinsky Theatre is named after the wife of the Tsar Alexander II, Empress Maria Alexandrovna. The Royal Box with its imperial eagles, curtains and sparkling chandeliers offers a vivid reminder of imperial Russia. The tsars regularly watched performances in the box. On the top of it you may see a monogram of first names of Maria Alexandrovna and Alexander II.
- The Canadian firm, Diamond and Schmitt Architects, designed a new building with 2,000 seats, which would complement the existing Mariinsky. The completion of the new Mariinsky theater was predicted to result in Saint Petersburg’s equivalent of New York’s Lincoln Center.
- Vasilyevsky Island is situated just across the St Petersburg river – Neva River – and Winter Palace, it constitutes a large portion of the city’s historic center. Centuries ago, it was the most prestigious and noble region of the city. Peter the Great wanted to turn it into Russian Amsterdam.
- Many people think that the city has the name of its first Emperor Peter the Great, but actually it was named in honor of Saint Peter, as the city was founded on the day of this saint patron.
- Nevsky Prospekt is one of the best-known avenues in Russia. It’s the most touristy place in the city. It goes through the historical center of the city and there you can see the most beautiful sights of the city, impressive buildings, squares, churches, bridges. It’s nearly 5 km long and according to statistics 2 million of people go through it every day.
- Nevsky prospect is also the warmest part of the city, the temperature here is higher by 2-3 degrees in summer and also by 10-12 in winter than in other parts of Saint Petersburg.
- Numbers of houses used to have rather unusual order. Parts of streets that crossed another street again began their numbers from the 1st number, that’s why there were several houses with the same numbers, which led to unimaginable chaos. In the 18th century Emperor Paul 1 ordered to continue the number of houses from the start till the very end, that’s why some streets have houses with four-digit numbers.
- There are 15 cities in the world that has the same name – Saint Petersburg.
- Michael’s Castle has four different architecture facades to fit in and keep the harmony with different streets it faces with its different sides.
- 10% of the land of the city is covered with water.
- Saint Petersburg metro is one of the deepest subways in the world: some stations are 70-80 meters deep and go under the water. Metro station Admiralteyskaya is the deepest station in the city.
- On the top of Admiralty’s spire you may see a golden ship which weights 65 kg and a golden ball. According to a legend, unknown treasures are hidden inside that ball and it has never been opened.
- Bronze Horseman isn’t actually made of bronze, it is iron.
- The greatest technological achievement of Peterhof is that all of the fountains operate without the use of pumps. Water is supplied from natural springs and collects in reservoirs in the Upper Garden.
- Eternal Flame on the Field of Mars was the first in Russia and the eternal flame on Red Square in Moscow was lit from the St Petersburg’s flame. This flame is the symbol of the victory in Great Patriotic War and WWII and in memory and honor of all soldiers.
- Saint- Petersburg is the world capital of trams, the street length is 600km. This fact is registered in Guinness World Records.
- The longest construction in Saint Petersburg was the construction of Smolny Cathedral. It took 87 years.
- The State Russian Museum is a unique depository of artistic works of art, including 15 000 pictures.
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