It must not be a surprise to anyone if I tell you that Russia or the Russian Federation is the largest country in the world. But some of you may not know that this huge country is divided into 85 Federal Subjects.
In the North-West of this huge country, there is a city called Saint Petersburg. Over the period of more than 3 centuries this city has changed names from Saint Petersburg to Petrograd, then to Leningrad and back to Saint Petersburg in early 1990s.
This is a city of bridges in the true sense of the word. On the one hand this status is confirmed by the 342 bridges within the city limits, which span the numerous canals and rivers that flow through the city. Peter the Great, the founder of Saint Petersburg, dreamt of a city like Amsterdam or Venice, with its numerous canals, linking parts of the city instead of road links. Hence, the city, which initially had only ten bridges, later became a design workshop for bridge builders.
According to Peter the Great’s plan the citizens were supposed to ferry around the city in boats, during summer months, and were supposed to sledge their way over frozen water bodies, during winter months. But following Peter’s death, the roads made their way into the city scape, because movement over the roads was lot easier and cheaper than charting the city in boats.
Well to appreciate the city’s bridges, like the Anichkov Bridge, the Palace Bridge, and another 340 of them, one must visit this amazing city of contrasts. Please don’t think that I used the expression “city of contrasts” just because it sounds good. You can see understand this when you see the numerous architectural styles and techniques used to make the very bridges, which I have mentioned earlier. Apart from that, Saint Petersburg, probably, presents the best fusion of architectural styles, ever possible. Walk around the city and you will be traveling through the evolution of architecture on foot.
Even the numerous cathedrals in the city do not look alike each other. Although they represent the one and the same church, still their architectural specifics are different. Same can be said about the residential and commercial buildings. Although in the initial years the city scape was predominantly Baroque, but later on, during the reign of various emperors and empresses, Saint Petersburg attained versatility in architecture with the addition of Neoclassical, Russian Gothic Revival, Imperial, Renaissance, etc. styled buildings.
This architectural fusion was not the result of individual preferences of the emperors and empresses, but the result of a cultural bridge, provided by Saint Petersburg. This bridge essentially brought together two segregated cultures: European and Asian, paving way for the Eurasian heritage. During imperial Russian times, Saint Petersburg was more of a cultural capital of the world, than the political capital of the empire. Many renowned European artists, scientists and creators started their careers in Saint Petersburg. I will not list all of the people, who crossed over the cultural bridge of Saint Petersburg to develop and enhance their careers in their respective fields. The only name that I will give you is that of Alfred Nobel, who lived in Saint Petersburg from 1842 to 1863. He used to his benefit the fact that in Saint Petersburg arts and science developed dynamically, thanks to the unabated interaction between the European schools of thought and the Russian intelligentsia.
Historically this city produced tons of popular writers, poets, painters, opera singers, scientists, generals etc. this tradition of knowledge and literacy still possesses the city, whose inhabitants still love to indulge in constructive intellectual discussions and who still have time for human interaction.
This is Saint Petersburg, region 78 of the Russian Federation. The city of infinite culture, intellect and human coexistence. If you think that I have an exaggerated view of region 78, please do visit the city of Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Nekrasov, Akhmatova, Rastrelli, Nobel and tons of other great names, who became what they were, because they were from Saint Petersburg.
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