2. October 2013 14:45
By Debbie Valentine
The city formerly known as Leningrad is a place steeped in history, culture and vodka. St Petersburg feels as though it is still adjusting to not being a Soviet city, more than 20 years after the fall of Communism. With more than 200 museums, there are some fascinating places to see, and the queues and tourist shops will attest to their popularity, but equally you feel that crossing the street might lead you back to the seventies.
The city was founded in the early 18th century by Peter the Great, who captured the land from the Swedes so Russia could have a sea-port, and promptly laid down the Peter and Paul fortress. The fortress is open to visitors and contains the final resting place of the Romanov family.
St Petersburg is unique because of its fantastic architecture, and this is the big draw for many visitors to the city. A decree in the mid-18th century stated that no building could be higher than the Winter Palace (now the home of the Hermitage museum), which has led to the uniform look of the older parts of St Petersburg. The large number of aristocrats in pre-revolutionary Russia has meant that there are a vast number of baroque palaces along the River Neva, and it is a beautiful cityscape. The buildings of Soviet Leningrad create an odd dichotomy with the pre-revolutionary buildings. The functionalist buildings outside the centre of the city are definitely unattractive, but offer a glimpse into life in the USSR. Modern architecture is now making its impact on the city, and St Petersburg is now home to some skyscrapers, although regulations prohibit building near the historic centre.More...
7. March 2007 17:08
I sometimes wonder how people decide where to go next, now that every square inch of this planet seems accessible to those determined enough to get there. For me, a part of this problem does not exist anymore – long haul destinations are out on health grounds, unless, of course, an unexpected change in my circumstances enables me to travel in a style I have not been accustomed to so far!
But, as I get older, another dilemma keeps cropping up in its place: go More...