Saint Petersburg is one hell of a city. In 1991, its name was changed from Leningrad – given by the communist government at the time - back to St. Petersburg, however in Russian literature, the ‘Saint’ prefix is usually omitted. Founded in 1703, and it remained the capital of Russia from 1713 to 1918. In 1918 however, the government decided to move its bodies to Moscow, with over 5 million people following suit as of 2012.
Over the last few years, Saint Petersburg has be hailed has the centre of European culture, and it terms of business and trade, it offers a key port to the Baltic Sea. The city is often described as the most ‘western’ area of Russia, however this is contradicted by the beautiful and historic monuments that have constituted parts of the city as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Hermitage, one of, if not the largest museum in the world, is also located in Saint Petersburg, and every year millions of tourists flock to the city to experience the vast culture and history.
Saint Petersburg has over 50 theatres, but one of the most talked about is the world-famous Mariinsky, or Kirov Theatre. Home to a magnificent opera and the amazing Mariinsky Ballet company, there have been many famous dancers that have passed through this theatre’s doors, including Galina Ulanova and Rudolph Nureyev.
When it comes to popular music, Saint Petersburg has been at the forefront of the newest movements for many years. When the Soviet Union was in power, Saint Petersburg gave birth to the country’s first ever Jazz band, and in the 1950s, the city opened its first ever Jazz club – Kvadrat!
Saint Petersburg has also been the location of over 200 Russian and international movies, and there are several world-renowned film festivals held here each year. Combined with its ever-growing literature movement – one of the best in the world – the city remains an outstanding example of modern movement combined with history and culture.
Things To Buy In Saint Petersburg
With the continued increase in tourism, Saint Petersburg offers streets full of vibrant market stalls, fresh meats, spices and fabrics from all over the world. If you’re looking for souvenirs to take home with you, it can be a little difficult to make a choice. To make things easier, take note of some of the best items to purchase!
Matrushka Dolls, or Matryoshka dolls, are one of the most popular souvenirs that tourists buy in Russia. With a minimum of five dolls nestling within one another, the dolls are a great ornament, and will keep your young children entertained for hours. Surprisingly, the dolls were created during the 1800s, and that’s quite recent if we compare them to many other popular Russian souvenirs.
And then there’s lacquered boxes. These boxes are decorated with scenery and images of Russian literature and folklore, and can range anywhere from $60 to $200 due to the complexity of the art work. In Saint Petersburg, you’ll usually find lacquered boxes depicting Christian stories, a lot like stain glass windows in churches.