St. Petersburg, former Leningrad, was founded by Tsar Peter I of Russia on May 27, 1703. It was the capital of the Russian Empire for more than two hundred years, until the Russian Revolution in 1917.
The city is considered to be the most Western inspired of Russia and by the Russians often referred to as The Northern Capital.
St. Petersburg is home to The Hermitage, the largest art museum in the world, featuring interiors of the former imperial residence and a vast collection of art. It was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great and open to the public since 1852. Its collections, of which only a small part is on permanent display, comprise nearly 3 million items, including the largest collection of paintings in the world.
There are several gardens to see in St. Petersburg. Here’s some of them.
The Alexander Garden was laid out in 1872-1874 over what had been Admiralty Square, to a design by the landscape gardener Eduard Regel, as part of the celebrations of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Peter the Great. The Garden was formally opened in 1874 in the presence of Alexander II, who agreed to having the Garden named after him.
The Botanical Garden is one of the oldest Botanical Gardens in the country. The Garden was founded in 1714 by order of Peter the Great as the Apothecary's Garden, and soon became a centre for horticultural research that was the equal of any other in Europe in terms of the importance and size of its collection. Originally the Apothecary's Garden focused mainly on growing medicinal herbs, but soon people began bringing saplings and seeds of rare and exotic plants - for which a greenhouse was specially built.
The Catherine Garden is the unofficial name for the public garden in front of the Alexandriinsky Theater, between the Theater and Nevsky Prospect. The Garden was laid out in the 1820s to a design by Carlo Rossi, and the statue of Catherine the Great which dominates it and from which it takes its name was erected in 1873. From late spring to early fall - and sometimes into winter - local artists sit on the sidewalk outside the Catherine Garden exhibiting and selling their work and offering to draw portraits of passers-by.
The Summer Garden is located where the Fontanka River flows out of the Neva River. It was founded in 1704 by order of Peter the Great, who was personally involved in planning it, and is laid out according to strict geometrical principles. The Summer Garden is home to marble statues acquired from Europe especially for Russia's new capital, and also to rare flowers and plants, as well as fountains. It was a traditional location for courtly life outside the palace, and balls were held here by the nobility, who also enjoyed simply taking the air in the Garden.
Moscow Victory Park is located in the south of St. Petersburg on Moskovsky Prospect. It was founded in 1945 to mark the Allied victory in World War II over Nazi Germany. The Park, which spreads over 68 hectares, is home to more than 100 types of tree and bush, and includes elements of formal and landscape planning, being decorated with ponds, canals, avenues, and flower gardens.
The Tauride Garden was laid out in 1783-1789 on the estate of Grigory Potemkin behind the Tauride Palace from which it took its name. Potemkin was one of Catherine the Great's favourites (and lover, allegedly), and the Empress gave Potemkin the land and the title of Prince of Tauridia for his services in conquering ancient Tauridia (now the Crimean Peninsula). The Tauride Garden was landscaped in true Romantic style, designed to imitate nature, with ponds and canals and picturesque rolling landscape. Trees and shrubs were brought in especially from England.
And just for the fun of it, here are a few more photos of St. Petersburg.