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St.Petersburg (known as Petrograd in 1914-1924 and as Leningrad in 1924-1991), the northern capital of Russian Federation, the seaport, the administrative centre of Leningrad region, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, was founded by Russian tsar Peter the Great on the small Zayachy island in the mouth of the Neva river as a fortress on May 27, 1703.

The city became the capital of Russia in 1712 up to 1918 when the capital was transfered back to Moscow.

The northern geografical location of St.Petersburg (the same latitude as Greenland, Alaska and Chukotka) explains the white nights from June 11 up to July 2 when the sun sets only 9 degrees below the horizon and the faint twilight gradually turns into the dawn.

The city was built by the most famous Russian and European architects and nicknamed "the Babylon of the Snows" and "the Venice of the North".

The present city is a large industrial, transport, scientific and cultural centre of Russia with a territory of 620 sq.km and a population of 5 million. The Petropavlovskaya Fortress is a remarkable, historical and architectural memorial in St.Petersburg. The Winter Palace, designed by Rastrelli in the 18th century, the former residence of Russian tsars, located on the Palace Square, is one of the most beautiful architectural ensembles in the world. The Hermitage with its collection of over 2,5 million exhibits is one of the very finest world art museums. The Russian Museum contains 3 thousand paintings (10th-20th centuries) of Russian artists. The St.Isaac`s Cathedral (1818-1858) is an outstanding monument of the late Russian Classicism. The majestic architectural ensembles in the suburbs are well-known all over the world. Peterhof or Petrodvorets - the former Russian imperial residence, Pavlovsk (18-19th centuries), Pushkin (18-19th centuries) - the former country residence of the Russian tsars, are among them.

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