St. Petersburg, Russia
St. Petersburg has provided a historic stage since the day Peter the Great ordained its construction on the banks of the Neva. In its relatively short history - the city is younger than New York - St. Petersburg has witnessed the rise and fall of Imperial Russia, three shattering revolutions, and civil war. The city survived a long and tragic siege during World War II - indeed St. Petersburg became a symbol of Russian resistance to Nazi invasion.
Russia's "Window on the West," St. Petersburg remains one of the world's most beautiful metropolises. Perched on the banks of the Neva, the city is crisscrossed by canals. Two great architects helped bring Peter the Great's vision of St. Petersburg to life: Rastrelli and Carlo Rossi. The rich architecture that resulted features a mixture of styles from ornate Russian Baroque churches to neo-classical palaces. St. Petersburg has also been the cultural soul of Russia, a repository of priceless art and a home to poets, musicians and composers ranging from Pushkin to Shostakovich.
Peter the Great instilled his near-mania for architecture and building in his successors, making the then capital of Imperial Russia one of the architectural treasures of the world.