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St Petersburg Travel Guide

St Petersburg History

St Petersburg was founded on May 16, 1703 by Peter the Great. Several days later a wooden Cabin of Peter the Great was built, becoming the first housing structure of the new city. The original clay walls and bastions of the fortress were completed by the end of the summer of 1703 under the careful supervision of the tsar and his close associates.

By August 1703 the new settlers have already encountered the infamous St. Petersburg floods. The area was considered unhealthy for a town, but it had tremendous strategic importance, so Peter the Great continued constructing the city despite all the losses and extra expenditures. In 1712 the Russian capital was moved to St.-Petersburg. It wasn't even a city, but just several wooden houses in the swamp. Russian nobles, who basically lived with comfort, had to move to this "capital". The ones who refused were enforced.

By 1714 the new decision of Peter the Great: the construction of new stone buildings is prohibited all over the Russia, except new capital. But in 1721 the senate in St.-Petersburg proclaimed Peter the Emperor. Officially the title of the Russian governors had been "The Tsar of The Whole Russia", but Peter wanted to differ from the ancestors, so he convoked the best nobles, called them the Senate and ordered to make him an Emperor. They have done this.

In 1727 the first bridge across Neva River was built. Neva divided city into many parts and for many years different areas of the city were connected just by boats. So bridge-building has become the most important thing to do around the Peter.

Paul I has introduced some ultra-conservative policies, curtailed St. Petersburg's local administration and made several major steps towards turning Russia into a bureaucratic state.
On March 12, 1801 Paul I was assassinated in the newly-built castle, in his own bedroom. Ironically, the coup was engineered by his son Alexander, who had sworn to continue the policies of his grandmother, Catherine the Great. Upon assuming power Alexander I had introduced a series of reforms.
St Petersburg History

In 1803 the first Russian round-world sea expedition was started in the city, in1837 the first railway in Russia has begun operating. The route was St.-Petersburg - Tsarskoe Selo (residential of the emperors), in 1863 city sewer system was opened, in 1873 St Petersburg was the first on try to use electricity in their streets, in 1882 the phone station and 1895 the first car in the city.

In 1902 the bureaucratic St. Petersburg celebrated the 100th anniversary of Alexander I's government reform, which had established Russia's ministries. In May 1903 St. Petersburg celebrated its 200th anniversary. The trouble came in 1905. In January 1905 a peaceful demonstration of workers was fired at by troops at the Palace Square. This led to public outrage and the start of the 1905-07 Revolution. The events of January 9, 1905 became known as "Bloody Sunday". On October 17, 1905 Nicholas II had to issue a manifesto proclaiming a number of civil rights and instituting a new parliament, consisting of the Duma and the reformed State Council.

The opening of the Duma in 1906 gave fresh grounds for hope to thousands of liberals in the intelligentsia. The district where the Duma was located soon became one of the most popular residential areas. However, the hope was short lived. The government curtailed many of the freedoms and blocked many of the Duma's initiatives. In the end, after the hardships of World War I had helped to evaporate public patience, the streets of St. Petersburg - Petrograd saw the two revolutions of 1917. But that happened later. In the meantime, St. Petersburg was the base for many of the most prominent artists, musicians, composers, writers and poets who actually made this period the "Silver Age". With a population of 2 million people, the modern metropolis was about to face new challenges, but the war has changed all the plans.



St Petersburg Hystory Part II  »


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