St. Petersburg was the former capital of imperial Russia and the home of its czars. The city has many splendid architectural treasures, theatres and art museums and of course the world famous Hermitage. Saint Petersburg is the second largest Russian city with a population of almost five million people. It is the largest northern city on the planet. Saint Petersburg is often called the Venice of the North, because it lies on 44 islands which are divided by a web of 86 rivers and canals.
Over 100 palaces of the Russian nobility and a great many cathedrals and unique churches built by the greatest architects of the time still remain in Saint Petersburg. Most of them are open to the public now. Saint Petersburg is famous for its "white nights" - a period when there is as much light during night time as during the day time and many bridges are raised. In Autumn time Saint Petersburg is also very beautiful. During the day it is possible to admire it as a museum in the open air, and in the night city sparkles with many lights and offers a big diversity of amusements. The city has recently undergone an extensive renovation in celebration of its 300th anniversary in 2003. More than 80 museums and 40 theatres of St. Petersburg ensure that art, ballet, music, and theatre lovers will find the metropolis an endless source of cultural enjoyment.