Saint Petersburg is second largest city in Russia and
arguably most beautiful. It
is often referred as "Palmyra of the North" or "The Venice of the
North" as a reference to number of channels and islands that form the
old historic portion of the city. Saint Petersburg was constructed by
the orders of Peter the Great in the early 18th century. In the duration of the Great Northern War
Russian forces managed to defeat the Swedish empire conquering lands
that opened the Russian Empire its only passage to the Baltic Sea.
Emperor Peter I opened his famous "Window to Europe" and to solidify his
conquest he decided to construct a new city and move his capital here
from Moscow. The city was named after holy patron of the emperor, Saint
Peter. "Burg" is a German for city. Peter was a big fan of the West and
Germany in particular. Saint Petersburg was found on 16th (27th) May in
1703. It served as a capital of the Russian Empire until the historic
evens of the early 20th century didn't change that. At the outbrake of
the World War I the German sounding name of Saint Petersburg was briefly
changed to more patriotic Petrograd (Peter's city in Russian). Great
October Revolution of 1917 brought an end to Russian Empire and Romanoff
family that ruled it for over 300 hundred years. Subsequent Civil War
forced Bolsheviks to move their capital to historic capital of Moscow.
The Soviets renamed the city Leningrad after the head of revolution
Lenin, but after collapse of the Soviet Union the city was renamed to
its original Saint Petersburg. Despite turmoil and conflicts (both
internal and external) the Cultural Capital of Russia plays an important
part in the Russian literature, music and culture.
Petrogradskaya side of Saint Petersburg gets its name
from a brief period when German sounding Saint Petersburg (City of
Peter) was changed to Russian sounding Petrograd. It occurred during
years of World War I when Russian Empire began to change many historical
German names. Saint Petersburg didn't escape its fate. Hence most of
buildings on this side date back to the beginning of the 20th century.
Saint Peter and Paul Fortress that stands on Zayachy Island dates back
to the early 18th century. It was one of the first parts of Saint
Petersburg that were constructed by city founder Emperor Peter the
Zayachy Island (Hare Island) is located at the widest
point of the Neva River. Its strategic position allowed massive land
cannons to hit all incoming ships, while remaining at a significant
distance for the naval guns to do a significant damage to the fortress.
Zayachy Island is measured at 750 meters by 400 meters. Its name comes
from a Finnish tribes that called Zayachy Island Ennissaari ("Yenisei"-
a hare, "Saari"- island). Later Swedes that expanded into these lands
called it Lyustgolm (Happy Island), Lust Eiland (Funland) and
Toyfelsgolm (Devil's Island). After Saint Peter and Paul fortress was
constructed, it was called simply Krepostonoy Island (Fortress Island).
Only in the 19th century it was renamed to Zayachy Island as a reference
to the original Finnish name. Nowadays one of the pillars of Saint John
bridge that lead to Saint Peter and Paul Fortress has a small figure
"Bunny, escaping from the flood" in height of 58 cm.