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Saint Petersburg
#1

Saint Petersburg is a city in north-western Russia, located on the coast of the Gulf of Finland (which is part of the Baltic Sea). It's the second-largest city in Russia, with an estimated population of 5,351,935 as of 2018. Due to its size and historical importance, the city of St Petersburg is one of only three cities recognised by Russia as a 'Federal City' (meaning it's a member of the Russian Federation in its own right, much like how Greater London is its own county, rather than London being part of some other county).

Compared to most other major European cities, Saint Petersburg actually isn't that old. It was first settled in 1611 by the Swedes, who built a fortress which they called Nyenskans. This fortress was captured by Russia in 1703 - and, shortly afterwards, Tsar Peter the Great chose it as the site for a new seaport, as part of his 'Westernisation' project to modernise Russia. Nine years later, in 1712, Peter the Great made Saint Petersburg the new capital of Russia (replacing Moscow), and established the first Winter Palace. Over the next century or so, Peter and his successors would rebuild and modify this royal residence several times, eventually resulting in the spectacular building shown at the top of this thread. Nevertheless, Peter the Great's plans were met with stiff resistance from the rest of the Russian nobility - and, after his death, his son Peter II moved the capital back to Moscow in 1728 (and then, his successor Anne moved it back to St Petersburg in 1732 :P ). During this time, the city grew steadily - and, after the abolition of serfdom in 1861, the city's population began to explode, as newly-freed peasants made it their new home. By the end of the century, St Petersburg had become the largest city in Russia, surpassing even Moscow.

The 20th century was much more tumultuous for the city. In 1914, Germany declared war on Russia as part of World War I - and so, Russia decided to re-name Saint Petersburg to 'Petrograd' - which meant the same thing, but sounded less German and more Russian. However, this was nothing compared to the events of 1917. First, the monarchy was dissolved in March, and replaced by a provisional government - and then, just eight months later, Vladimir Lenin's Bolsheviks stormed the Winter Palace, seizing all political power for the communists. Since Lenin feared that Petrograd might be invaded (due to its proximity to the German border at the time), he moved the capital back to Moscow, which soon reclaimed its status as Russia's largest city. However, Petrograd remained important - as evidenced by the fact that, five days after Lenin's death in 1924, the city was re-named 'Leningrad' in his honour. There was much new construction during the 1920s and 1930s, and so, the population (which had completely collapsed after the events of 1917) began to recover. However, during World War II, the city became subject to one of the longest, deadliest, and most destructive sieges in history: the Nazis first began the Siege of Leningrad in September 1941, and it took until January 1944 for the Soviets to repel the siege. By this time, the city was obviously completely battered, and over a million of its residents had starved to death. The second half of the 20th century, however, brought a return to stability - and the final notable event came on 12th June 1991, when the city's residents voted to bring back the old name of 'Saint Petersburg'.

So, what is there to see and do there? For starters, the Winter Palace buildings are now home to the Hermitage Museum (the world's second-largest art museum, after the Louvre in Palace). Indeed, St Petersburg has over 200 museums: it'd be impossible to list them all, but some of the highlights include the Russian Museum (dedicated to fine art); the Kunstkamera (the first museum in Russia), and the Artillery Museum (containing a great deal of Russian military equipment). It's also home to the Mariinsky theatre (which may not be as well-known as Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre, but it's still played an important role in Russian opera for some 150 years). This theatre, and the 50 or so others in Saint Petersburg, serves as a venue for music by world-famous composers who lived or studied in Saint Petersburg (including Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich, among others). Or, if you want something more modern-age, the city's also home to a variety of sports clubs, including FC Zenit Saint Petersburg and FC Dynamo Saint Petersburg (soccer), SKA Saint Petersburg (ice hockey), and BC Kondrashin Belov (basketball).

So, who here has been to Saint Petersburg - or would like to go there?
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#2
Even though my project has changed and I'll be working with languages from West Africa rather than Russia, I'd still love to go to St. Petersburg. It has so much rich cultural heritage and beautiful architecture. Actually, the area it is in is originally Finnic territory, but most of the Ingrians and Vods went into the Karelian Isthmus after Sweden took the area, and later into Finland or north into Karelia after World War II.

St. Petersburg, Vologda, Belozersk (formerly Beloozero), and Veliky Novgorod are probably the highest cities on my list in terms of which ones I'd want to visit in Russia, actually.
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(07-30-2018, 07:07 PM)Kyng Wrote: Come to think of it, I'm surprised Jarkko's collection of linguistics reading material wasn't there :thinking: .
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Indeed - now that you mention it, I recall that the entire area is Finnic in Crusader Kings II. It's not usually important, though, since the game is set several hundred years before St Petersburg was founded :P .

And, yes - there's no shortage of beautiful architecture. Take, for example, the Mikhailovsky Palace - which I recently learned cost more to decorate than to build :O :

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