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Saint Petersburg - Russia
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Saint Petersburg (Russian: Санкт-Петербург) is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. In 1914 the name of the city was changed to Petrograd (Russian: Петроград), in 1924 to Leningrad (Russian: Ленинград) and in 1991 back to Saint Petersburg.

Saint Petersburg was founded by Tsar Peter the Great in 1703. From 1713 through 1728 and from 1732 it was the capital of the country until 1918 when the central government bodies moved from Petrograd to Moscow. It is Russia's second largest city after Moscow with over 4.6 million inhabitants. Saint Petersburg is a major European cultural center, and an important Russian port on the Baltic Sea. Saint Petersburg is often described as the most Western city of Russia. Among cities of the world with over one million people, Saint Petersburg is the most northern. The historic center of Saint Petersburg and related groups of monuments constitute a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Saint Petersburg is also home to The Hermitage, the largest art museum in the world. A large number of foreign consulates, international corporations, banks and other businesses are located in Saint Petersburg.

Saint Petersburg has significant historical and cultural heritage and is thus a highly-attractive tourist destination. The 18th through 19th century architectural flavor of the city and its environs is preserved in virtually unchanged form. For various reasons, including large-scale destruction during World War II and construction of modern buildings during the postwar period in the largest historical centers of Europe, Saint Petersburg has now become a unique reserve of European architectural styles of the past three centuries. Saint Petersburg's loss of capital city status, significantly helped the city in retaining many pre-revolutionary buildings, as modern architectural 'prestige projects' tended to be built in Moscow; this largely prevented the rise of mid to late of 20th century architecture in the city and helped maintain the architectural integrity of the historic center. The city of Saint Petersburg is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list as an area with 36 historical architectural complexes, and around 4000 outstanding individual monuments of architecture, history and culture. New tourist programs and sightseeing tours have been developed for those wishing to see Saint Petersburg's cultural heritage.

The city has 221 museums, 2000 libraries, more than 80 theaters, 100 concert organizations, 45 galleries and exhibition halls, 62 cinemas, and around 80 other cultural establishments. Every year the city hosts around 100 festivals and various competitions of art and culture, including more than 50 international ones. Despite the economic instability of the 90s not a single major theatre or museum has been closed in Saint Petersburg. On the contrary many new ones have opened, for example, a private museum of puppets opened in 1999 and is the third museum of its kind in Russia, where collections of more than 2000 dolls are presented, including 'The multinational Saint Petersburg' and 'Pushkin's Petersburg'. The museum world of Saint Petersburg is incredibly diverse. The city is not only home to the world-famous Hermitage Museum and The Russian State Museum with its rich collection of Russian art, but also the palaces of Saint Petersburg and its suburbs, so-called small town museums and others like the museum of famous Russian writer F. M. Dostoevsky; Museum of Musical Instruments, the Museum of Decorative Arts and the Museum of Professional Orientation.

Saint Petersburg is also served by Pulkovo International Airport and by three smaller commercial and cargo airports in the suburbs. Pulkovo Airport opened to passengers as a small aerodrome in 1931. As of 2007, the airport is the 4th busiest in Russia after Moscow's Domodedovo, Sheremetyevo and Vnukovo airports. With two main terminals - one domestic and one international, Pulkovo is widely regarded as one of the larger and more modern airports in the Russian Federation. However as it is anticipated that by 2025 Pulkovo Airport will handle around 17 million passengers annually, plans have been laid out to build a new mid-field terminal extension directly to the north of the domestic Terminal 1. It was planned to contain 18 gates and construction was slated to begin in 2008 with scheduled completion in 2011. There is a regular 24 hour a day - 7 day per week, rapid-bus transit connection between Pulkovo International Airport and the city center of Saint Petersburg.

The musical life of Saint Petersburg is rich and diverse, with the city now playing host to a number of annual carnivals. Ballet performances occupy a special place in the cultural life of Saint Petersburg. The Petersburg School of Ballet is deservedly named as one of the best in the world. Traditions of the Russian classical school have been passed down from generation to generation amongst outstanding educators. The art of famous and prominent Saint Petersburg dancers like Rudolf Nureyev, Natalia Makarova, Mikhail Baryshnikov is admired throughout the world. Contemporary Petersburg ballet is made up not only of traditional Russian classical school, but also ballets by those like Boris Eifman's, who expanded the scope of strict classical Russian ballet to almost unimaginable limits. Remaining faithful to the classical basis, as he was a choreographer in Vaganova Academy of Dance, he combined classical ballet with the avant-garde style, and then, in turn, with acrobatics, rhythmic gymnastics, dramatic expressiveness, cinema, color, light, and finally with the spoken word. Possessing an immense cultural program and a large number of world heritage sites, as well as a developing tourist infrastructure, Saint Petersburg is one among the number of the world class leading centers of culture and tourism.

Accommodation in Saint Petersburg - Russia

Timelapse Video of Saint-Petersburg, Russia in 2010
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