Meet St. Petersburg

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As well as having a diverse higher education system, St. Petersburg has lots to offer its residents and guests. We believe that our students are temporary residents or long-term guests of the city and they should know more about it.

St Petersburg has had as many names as it has many identities. Founded in 1703 by Peter the Great as a “Window on the West” during a great period of upheaval in Russian history, it had undergone many changes and transformations. Named after St. Peter, the patron saint of Tsar Peter the Great, its name was changed to Slavic Petrograd after the start of World War I, then to Leningrad in 1924 to commemorate the leader of the October Revolution Vladimir Lenin, and then by public vote back to St. Petersburg in 1991.  However, the city has always been a sophisticated capital, proud of its history but looking squarely in the face of the future.  

The former imperial capital of Russia, the city has many unique features: it is the third biggest metropolis and the first biggest non-capital city in Europe. The name of the city is much more associated with the name of Peter the Great himself rather than his patron saint. The city is historically and culturally intertwined with the birth of the Russian Empire and Russia’s enrollment in the modern history as a major European state.  

One of the major country’s tourist centers, St. Petersburg has a lot to offer. The historical center of the city and its integral memorial complexes belong to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The city has such exceptional cultural milestones as the Hermitage, Russian Museum, Kunstkamera, Mariinsky Theater, Peter and Paul Fortress, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, Nevski Avenue and hundreds of other cultural attractions.  The city is more than ever beautiful during the white nights season, when you can read at midnight without turning the light on, and the bridges across the powerful Neva go up every night to let the ships pass through the city heading to and from Ladoga Lake.

Travel around
With St. Petersburg as a base, you’ll be in the ideal location to explore the fantastic suburbs of the city with the magnificent summer palaces of the royal family, ancient Russian cities like Staraya Ladoga, Novgorod, and Pskov, spectacular scenery of the Karelian Isthmus and Ladoga Lake. From splendid palaces to adventure sports and breathtaking old fortresses and some of the world’s best-loved cultural festivals, there are plenty of attractions to experience.

Neighboring territories
St. Petersburg’s location in Northwest Russia makes it easy to explore Russia’s North-West, Baltic and Scandinavian countries, and. Moscow. It takes about four hours on board of a comfortable high-speed train to get to Helsinki. The same amount of time is necessary to reach Moscow, the capital of Russia, with its enormous variety of cultural and sportive events.

Magnificent Ladoga Lake, a fresh-water sea, accumulates waters of 300 rivers and gives start to the powerful Neva River, in the delta of which St. Petersburg is located.  The Ladoga is a popular day-trip destination thanks to the various opportunities for water sports, fishing, walking, hiking, and camping. You can take a hydrofoil tour to Valaam Island with an ancient monastery, or travel to Kizhi, another famous UNESCO site with its magnificent wooden Preobrazhensky Cathedral made with axes as the only instruments and no single nail used. 

Arts and culture
St. Petersburg has a thriving arts and culture scene, from its range of famous theaters and museums to the many captivating art and literary festivals and places in the city. 

Architecture fans can enjoy the rich legacy of striking and unique architecture of St. Petersburg created by Russian and European architects. There are plenty of architectural gems like the Winter Palace and Smolny Cathedral, right up to the cutting-edge designs of today, such as the tallest European building of the Gazprom Company Headquarters.

Initially designed as a Northern Venice, St. Petersburg has hundreds of bridges across dozens of its rivers and canals. Twenty two draw bridges are raised every night during the navigation season which starts in April and lasts till early November. The view is so spectacular that thousands of city guests and residents are always there to watch the procedure in practically any weather.

Though a northern city located on the Gulf of Finland, St. Petersburg is surrounded by plenty of beautiful beaches. The city has its own small beach next to the Peter and Paul fortress. Often as popular in winter as it is in summer thanks to the presence of “walruses” (those that believe in the health effects of very cold water), its first tanners appear there when the snow is still around.  However, the bright sun and protecting walls of the fortress from year to year attract students and other people to bath in the early spring sun.

Parks and gardens
St. Petersburg is home to a wide variety of stunning parks and gardens, both in the city and its suburbs, starting with the famous Summer Garden right on the Neva shore. Discover exotic species in the Botanic garden, enjoy the beauty of Peterhof fountains and gardens, take a boat tour around numerous rivers and canals of the city, or wander through beautiful streets and squares, and relax in the numerous St. Petersburg cafés and other eateries.  

Never mind how many years you intend to be a student in St. Petersburg, you will have what to do in the city on every single day and night!