I was sent off to get to know and work at Norwegian University Center in St. Petersburg. March may not be the best time to visit the city, as spring was not quite there yet. But never the less I had three cold, but beautiful days there with lots of sunshine. Here is a summary of the things that I got to see in St. Petersburg.
First a few facts about the city. Saint Petersburg (Russian: Санкт-Петербург) is the second largest city in Russia with about 5 million inhabitants. It was founded by Tsar Peter the Great on May 27 1703. Between 1713–1728 and 1732–1918, Saint Petersburg was the imperial capital of Russia. In 1914 the name of the city was changed from Saint Petersburg to Petrograd (Russian: Петроград), in 1924 to Leningrad (Russian: Ленинград), and in 1991, back to Saint Petersburg.
Saint Petersburg was founded upon a swamp, with little sunlight, and it was said only cabbages and turnips would grow there. It was forbidden to fell trees for fuel, so hot water was permitted just once a week. As a result of pressed slave labour from all over the Empire, work on the city progressed quickly. It has been estimated that 200,000 people died in twenty years while building the city. A diplomat of the time, who described the city as “a heap of villages linked together, like some plantation in the West Indies“, just a few years later called it “a wonder of the world, considering its magnificent palaces“. (more…)