13 amazing facts about St. Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is the second largest city of Russia. It keeps its secrets and mysteries. If you want to learn some of them, just keep reading this article.
Let’s return to 13 amazing facts about St. Petersburg. Here is a brief historical background:
- The city was founded by Peter the Great in 1703.
- It served as the capital of the Russian Empire from 1713 to 1918.
- St. Petersburg has a shortened nickname, Piter, that is often used by local residents.
#1 A High Price for the Foundation
Saint Petersburg was built by conscripted peasants and some Swedish prisoners of war. Tens of thousands of serfs died building the city. That’s why, the city is often referred as “the city built on bones”. However, historians don’t like to mention it.
#2 Several Names of the City
Peter the Great originally named his city “Sankt-Pieter-Burch” in Dutch manner. Later the spelling was changed under German influence — Sankt-Peterburg (Saint Petersburg). During World War I, the name was changed in order to expunge the German words. It became known as Petrograd (Peter’s City). In 1924, it was renamed to Leningrad (Lenin’s City). Only in 1991, the city returned its original name — Saint Petersburg.
#3 There are 15 St. Petersburgs in the USA
Yes, the city has a popular name. Ironically, the largest of them is located in sunshine state. American St. Petersburg is the 5th most populous city in Florida. It’s a twin-brother of Russian St. Petersburg from a parallel universe.
#4 There is nothing under the huge column on Palace Square
The column is known as the Alexander Column. It’s 47.5 m (155 ft 8 in) tall and is topped with a statue of an angel holding a cross. The column weighs 600 tonnes (661 tons). It’s not fixed and is held by its own gravity. At first, citizens were afraid to pass by the column and avoided it. Its creator — Auguste de Montferrand — had to walk under it every day to demonstrate to locals that the column was safe.
#5 The City of White Nights
This is another nickname of St. Petersburg. The city is located close to the polar region. Due to this, a natural phenomenon, called “White Nights”, occurs. In summer the nights of the city don’t get completely dark for a month.
#6 The North Venice
St. Petersburg is called so because 10% of its total area is covered with water. The city is built on 42 islands and has over 300 bridges.
#7 The Capital of Trams
If you decide to visit St. Petersburg, don’t forget to take a ride on a tram there. The length of the tram tracks in the city is more than 600 km. This fact is listed in the Guinness Book of Records.
#8 “50 employees with whiskers” in the Hermitage
Cats have always kept the Winter Palace free from rodents. In 2014, the museum director introduced a limit of 50 cats. Other cats can be adopted by visitors. If you want to get a cat, you’ll have to pass an interview and prove your trustworthiness. To emphasize the special status of these pets, each “Hermitage cats” has a certificate.
#9 A Monument that has been Stolen 7 Times
This monument is called Chizhik-Pyzhik by locals. The small statue of a bird is located on a stone embankment of the Fontanka Tributary. People toss coins at it in the hope of making their wishes come true. The statue was stolen 7 times, however, it was returned to its rightful place on each occasion.
#10 “I don’t hear you...”
Unfortunately, St. Petersburg is a major noise polluter. It was placed next to deafening places such as Istanbul and Paris.
#11 St. Isaac’s Cathedral was protracted
St. Isaac’s Cathedral is a cathedral that currently functions as a museum. The cathedral took 40 years to construct, from 1818 to 1858. It even left an idiom to Finnish language — “rakentaa kuin lisakinkirkkoa” (to build like the church of Isaac) when speaking of long-term construction projects.
#12 Unofficial Gastronomic Capital of Russia
There are nearly 300 bars, pubs and nightclubs in St. Petersburg. Moreover, there are two culinary specialties that you can find only here. The first one is called “Pyshki” — Russian donuts. The second dish is Korushka. This is a special sort of fish that smells like cucumbers.
#13 The St. Petersburg Metro
It’s the deepest underground system in the world. Admiralteyskaya is the deepest metro station. By the way, they launched the first metro station to have platform screen doors. Nowadays most countries use this construction method.
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