St Petersburg Highlights
When Peter the Great built this city on a swamp, his subjects humored the Emperor. When he declared it the country's new capital, they were less amused. But history has shown that the forward-thinking, Westward-looking tsar was inspired. Gradually, St Petersburg evolved from a dreary backwater into a beautiful, modern European city, Russia's "window to the West".
Unlike Moscow's red bricks and onion domes, St Petersburg's network of canals and baroque and neoclassical architecture give the city a European flavor, no doubt because it was built by Italian architects. Even the residents of St Petersburg fancy themselves "European" and somehow slightly more sophisticated than their more easterly compatriots.