Saint Petersburg is a large city in the northwest of Russia. With about five million inhabitants, it is the second largest city in the country after Moscow. The Neva, a wide river that flows into the Baltic Sea, flows through it.
The city was founded around 1700 by Tsar Peter the Great. He made Saint Petersburg the capital of the Russian Empire. In 1914, Germany was an opponent of Russia in the First World War. At that time, Saint Petersburg was thought to sound too German and the city's name was changed to Petrograd. Grad is Russian for "city".
In 1917, Tsar Nicholas II was overthrown and the Russian communists came to power. They called the city Leningrad from 1924. Lenin was the leader of the communist party, who died shortly before.
During the Second World War, the German army tried to conquer Leningrad for more than two years. However, the Soviet Union was able to defend the city. During this time, a great many inhabitants died of hunger. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the city has been called Saint Petersburg again.
The Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are more than 2000 palaces, castles and other buildings adorned with gold. The most famous is the Winter Palace, which houses one of the largest art collections in the world. The tsars used to reside there in the cold seasons. In summer they lived in a palace outside the city. There is also the Holy Trinity Church, the Peter and Paul Fortress and many famous museums and theatres.
Famous people come from Saint Petersburg. These are, for example, the politician Vladimir Putin, the artist Fabergé or the composer Dimitri Shostakovich.