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Take a chance to visit two great Russian cities Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Moscow is the capital of the Russian Federation, the seat of Russia’s president and the federal government. With the population over 10 million, it is one of the biggest megapolises in the world. Moscow is a city of great historical and cultural traditions, attracting millions of visitors from all over the world. Moscow is one of the oldest cities, set up as far back as 1147.
As Russia’s principle city, Moscow plays a prominent role at all times. As the capital city of Moscow Principality in the Middle Ages, it grew to become a powerful political and economic factor in bringing together separated and hostile Russian principalities to form a strong centralized state. Moscow was Russia’s capital until 1712, when Emperor Peter the Great transferred the capital’s functions and the court to newly built St. Petersburg. However Moscow didn’t lose its importance as the country’s major intellectual and cultural centre with distinctive Russian roots. Moscow regained the capital status in 1918, and by that time the city’s cultural heritage had included such fine gains as the Pushkin Fine Arts Museum, Tretyakov Picture Gallery, Bolshoi Theater, Historical Museum, GUM and TSUM trade centers.
In the 20th century Moscow’s architectural image changed dramatically as many historical buildings were demolished to make room for new constructivism-styled projects. The most outstanding monuments to that epoch are, undoubtedly, Stalin’s skyscrapers and the Moscow Metro.
Unlike St Petersburg with a distinctly European outlook, Moscow’s architectural image presents an eclectic mixture of forms influenced by Byzantine and Western trends alike. The bizarre combination of Oriental and European styles, of ancient and hi-tech buildings, makes up a unique feature of Moscow, immediately recognizable by magnificent Kremlin Towers, lovely St Basil’s Cathedral, old-time monasteries and splendid manors.
Convenient transport connections both with an outside world and Russian regional cities make Moscow a good starting point for travelers wishing to get a deeper insight into Russia’s rich historic background and present day life. From Moscow one can take a tour to St Petersburg and explore the splendid highlights of both capitals, or visit medieval Russian towns of the Golden Ring, or take a Trans-Siberian journey to discover how really big and diverse Russia is. There are a great many travel routes across Russia, and all of them may begin in Moscow.
St. Petersburg is the second largest city of Russia with over 4.7 million residents. Due to its advantageous geographical position on the coast of the Gulf of Finland, the city is Russia’s major sea and river port. With 86 canals and over 45 islands, St Petersburg is often called Venice of the North. There are over 580 bridges, which make up an essential part of the city infrastructure. Many of the bridges are engineering and architectural masterpieces and harmoniously contribute to the incomparable image of the city.
Created by Emperor Peter the Great in 1703 to be his “window on Europe”, St Petersburg combines the fascinating Russian heritage with a distinctly European outlook. A city of palaces and museums, broad avenues and winding canals, St. Petersburg has gained the reputation of one of the Great Cities of Europe. The Petersburg historical center as well as majestic palace-and-park ensembles – altogether 4,000 outstanding architectural, historical and cultural monuments – are on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Saint Petersburg has a special place in the history of Russia. For over two hundred years – from 1712 to 1918 St Petersburg was the official capital of the Russian Empire. It was at that period that the specific style of St Petersburg was formed with broad avenues, magnificent bridges, majestic cathedrals and splendid palaces.
Each monarch made a notable contribution to the city outlook. Peter the Great conceived the idea of a regularly planned city with well-defined layout developed to clearcut designs. Best architects of the time were invited for that purpose. However the city attained its glorious look after Peter’s death under Empress Elizabeth and Empress Catherine the Great, both known as Peter’s followers in home reforms and external conquests. They initiated construction of the many splendid palaces and city buildings that we admire nowadays. Among them are the Winter Palace and Hermitage, the Academy of Fine Arts and the Admiralty Building.
The epochs that followed brought about new creations that nowadays are included in St Petersburg landmarks. Such are the Mikhaylovsky Palace and the Russian Museum, the Mariinsky Theatre, the Palace Square and the Alexander Column, the enormous St Isaac’s Cathedral.
Today St Petersburg is a rapidly growing world business and financial centre. With convenient international transport connections, high quality hotels, modern congress facilities, the city has become the venue of major world political and economic events, such as World Economic Forums and World Summits.