St. Petersburg: City on the River

One of the world’s most fabulous cities is the Russian river: city of St. Petersburg. Established in the early 1700s by Czar Peter the Great, the city on the Neva river is a tribute to the rise of the Russian empire and the impact of the Russian Imperial family.

Winter Palace and the Hermitage Museum along the banks of the Neva River.

The Neva river is a major characteristic of this beautiful city which boasts the Winter Palace, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, and the Hermitage museum. The river runs by some of the major monuments to the empire such as Czar Alexander’s column, Catherine the Great’s equestrian statue, and Peter the Great’s first cabin home. Peter the Great was an advocate of museums that documented the history of the empire and was interested in the pursuit of art and native crafts.

Today, sites along the Neva river are revered as residents and tourists alike pose for keepsake photographs. Newlywed couples are encouraged to stroke the toes of the mighty carved Atlas figures at the Hermitage museum to bring about good luck.

Czar Peter the Great and Czarina Catherine I wanted residents of St. Petersburg to use boats to travel around the city to highlight the beauty of the river. He was opposed to the building of bridges within the city limits. However, the need for some bridges could not be overlooked and some draw bridges with towers were constructed in the early 1700s to keep out foreigners. Also, there were restrictions about the architecture of the city as it was mandated that the height of civic buildings in St. Petersburg could not be higher than the dome of St. Isaac’s cathedral, the third largest dome in the world after St. Peter’s in Vatican City and St. Paul’s in London.

Peter the Great would have been impressed with one of the most interesting aspects of the city which addresses the importance of the Neva river in the 20th Century, that is the famed St. Petersburg metro or subway system.

The first plans to build a metro in St. Petersburg were drawn up in 1889. These plans were not implemented because of the outbreak of World War I. Shortly thereafter, the plans were put on hold because of the Revolution of 1917. Decades later, in 1941, construction began on what was then called the Leningrad metro. Of course, progress was soon halted as the Soviet Union entered World War II.

Finally, the construction resumed on the Metro after World War II and the first metro line was opened in November 15, 1955. The St. Petersburg metro is the deepest subway system in the world with some stations located more than 330 feet below the surface.

The St. Petersburg metro system is hailed as one of the world’s best metros for its cleanliness, efficiency, and ornate art and architecture. The first subway pavilions or stations, circa 1955, were designed in a modernist style with classical arches and clean lines referred to as “Stalin gothic”.

The city that Peter the Great called his own has developed into the 21st Century with grace and vigor. With its historic buildings and contemporary flair, St. Petersburg is surely a treasure to behold.

PhD antiques appraiser, author, award-winning TV personality and TV talk show host, Dr. Lori presents antiques appraisal events nationwide. Visit www.DrLoriV.com, www.facebook.com/doctorlori or call (888) 431-1010.

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