Anniversary of the foundation of St. Petersburg. The Day of the city

27 May 1703

“Oh Peter’s city, flaunt yourself,

As Mother Russia stand defiant…”

A. S. Pushkin, “The Bronze Horseman” (1833)


16 (27) May 1703, the day of the Holy Trinity, at the mouth of the Neva River on Hare Island Peter I laid the foundations of a fortress. This day is considered the day of St. Petersburg’s foundation, which had been the capital of the Russian Empire for more than 200 years.

The draft of the future fortress was drawn by Peter himself. The name of "Saint Petersburg was given to the fortress on St. Peter's Day, when there was founded the church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. This name was also given to the city arisen around the island. The Apostle Peter, according to Christian tradition, was the keeper of the keys to paradise, which also seemed symbolic to the Russian Tsar because the city, named after his patron saint, was supposed to become "the key to the Baltic Sea”. A few years later the fortress was named Peter and Paul Fortress - after its main cathedral.

In November 1703 in memory of the fact that the fortress was laid on the day of the Holy Trinity, the city opened the first church – of the Holy Trinity. It was there that Peter took the title of Emperor in 1721. Peter I attached a great strategic importance to the new city – it was to ensure the water route from Russia to Western Europe. In autumn of 1704, at the mouth of the Neva the construction of the Admiralty shipyard with fortifications began. At the end of 1706, in order to protect Peter and Paul Fortress from the shelling from the opposite shore, Peter I ordered the construction of Kronverk. Poltava victory (1709) and the seizure of Vyborg ultimately strengthen the position of St. Petersburg.

St. Petersburg was the first city in Russia, which had been developed in compliance with a predetermined plan. This fact had defined a high level of urban development and promoted urban ensembles of the late 18th - early 19th centuries. In 1703, under the imperial decree was created the "Office of buildings”, in charge of all the works, but actually it was led by Peter himself.

In the first ten years of existence, the main part of the city was the Municipal (now Petrogradsky) island. There were office buildings, craft village and military units. The island was connected to the Peter and Paul Fortress by means of a drawbridge. Later the constructions began up the left bank of the Neva, where the Winter Palace, Summer Palace of Peter I, the Summer Garden were situated. From 1712, the city was proclaimed the capital of Russia, and in 1713 the Senate moved there. In 1712 Peter I issued a decree establishing a master plan of St. Petersburg, according to which Vasilevsky Island was to become the city center. It is here that harbor facilities, lighthouses, and the Twelve Colleges building, Cabinet of Curiosities were constructed. In 1725, in St. Petersburg was founded the Academy of Sciences, which in 1728 began to issue the first Russian newspaper - "St. Petersburg Bulletin”.

In August 1914, on a wave of anti-German sentiment, the city was renamed to Petrograd. After the October Revolution there were established state architectural and planning organizations, whose work was joined by important Petrograd architects A. I. Gegello, V. G. Gelfreich, A. S. Nikol'skiy, L. V. Rudnev, I. A. Fomin. Behind Narva, Moscow and Vyborg gated began the construction of residential houses and public buildings.  New types of buildings started to appear - houses of culture, clubs, factory kitchens, communes. The architecture of this period was called "constructivism".

In 1924, after V. I. Lenin's death, by a decision of the Central Committee of the CPSU (b), Petrograd was renamed to Leningrad.

General development plan, adopted in 1935, provided an integrated development in the area of the former suburbs. However, these studies were interrupted by the Great Patriotic War. During the siege (1941-1944) the inhabitants managed to defend their city, as well as be a great help to the front. As a result, the counter offensive of the Leningrad and Volkhov Fronts, on 18 January 1943 blockade ring was broken, but only a year later the siege of the city was completely raised. Even during the siege was designed a plan to restore the city. The feat of Leningrad restorers, who reconstructed the monuments of Leningrad and its suburbs, has no parallel in the history of architecture.

In 1951 was adopted a new adjusted General plan of the city, which paid much attention to reconstruction and redevelopment of the city center. In 1955 the city signed the act of commissioning of the first phase of the Leningrad underground.

In 1990, the historical city center was listed as a UNESCO world heritage of culture.

In 1991, according to the results of the referendum more than half of city residents supported the return of its historical name - St. Petersburg.


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Based on the Presidential Library’s materials:

Saint-Petersburg: pages of history: [digital collection];

Алфавитный список селений по уездам и станам С.-Петербургской губернии, составленный при Губернском статистическом комитете. СПб., 1856;

Историческая панорама Санкт-Петербурга и его окрестностей. [Альбом фотографий]. СПб., [19--];

Карта Санкт-Петербургской губернии онагож уезда захватывающая части и протчих уездов принадлежащих оной губернии както Шлисельбургской, Софейской, Ораниембоумской и Рожественской и имеет центром город Санкт-Петербург и от онаго простирающаяся во все стороны на 40 верст. СПб., 1792;

Князьков С. А. Картины по русской истории: Объяснительный текст к картине № 32: А. Н. Бенуа. Петербург при Петре Великом. М., 1912;

Курбатов В. Я. Петербург: художественно-исторический очерк и обзор художественного богатства столицы: с 315 иллюстрациями. СПб., 1913;

Меркулов И. В. Виды Петербурга Елизаветинской эпохи: альбом. СПб., 2009;

Новейший сборник разных сведений о С.-Петербурге и его окрестностях [во все времена года]. 1861. СПб., 1861;

Покровский В. И. Статистический очерк С.-Петербурга: планы города и театров. СПб., 1894;

Санкт-Петербург // Энциклопедический словарь / Под ред. проф. И. Е. Андреевского. Т. 28а. СПб., 1900. С. 291-344;

Стат Санктпетербургской губернии: Составленной из семи уездов, а именно: Санктпетербургскаго, Шлиссельбургскаго, Софийскаго, Ораниенбаумскаго, Рожественскаго, Ямбургскаго и Нарвскаго: Утверждён в Санктпетербурге генваря 1 дня 1780 г. СПб., 1780;

Устав Санкт-Петербурга: принят Законодательным Собранием Санкт-Петрбурга 14 января 1998 года. СПб., 1998.