Saint-Petersburg is the "most northern" among large cities and the largest northern city in the world: it is located at 60 degrees North, roughly on the same latitude as Greenland, Alaska and the capital of Norway, Oslo. One of the most peculiar things about Saint-Petersburs is so called "white nights", which last from May to June. During this time the sky doesn't grow dark even at midnight and the city barely sleeps.
Saint-Petersburg has the total area of nearly 1500 square kilometres. It is located on the eastern side of the Gulf of Finland (the arm of the Baltic Sea), and being in the center of sea, river and land routes, serves as an open "gateway" to Europe for Russia and its strategic center, the closest one to the countries of the European Community.
Saint-Petersburg is the largest non-capital city in Europe. Since early XIX century it has been the fourth largest among the most populated European cities. With its current population of almost 5 million people it still stands on the fourth place, after Paris, Moscow and London. Numerous foreign embassies, offices of international organizations, as well as federal bodies and agencies are located in Saint-Petersburg.
The 20th century saw the city changing its name three times: before 1914 it was Saint-Petersburg, from 1914 to 1924 - Petrograd, in 1924 it was renamed Leningrad, and in 1991 it was given back its original name - Saint-Petersburg.
Saint-Petersburg is also the younges of the large European cities, it was founded only 304 years ago. It has preserved most of its original architecture, because from the very beginnig its houses were mostly built of stones. Nowhere in Europe or USA you will see so many old buildings – there are about 18 thousand of them in Sain-Petersburg. Besides, it is the only place in the world which combines different architectural styles: classicism, eclectism and modern.
The historical center of the city as well as the palaces and parks of its surburbs are in the UNESCO's World Heritage List.
The highest cathedral in Russia - Peter-and-Paul Cathedral, a burial place of the Romanov’s imperial family - is located in Saint-Petersburg, being also the highest building in the historical center of the city. Its golden spire with a flying angel statue on top is 122.5 meters high.
Saint-Petersburg Metro is the deepest subway system in the world. The city was actually built on marshes and swamp, that is why the subway system had to run deeper than underlying bedrock. Metro tunnels reach a depth of 70-80 meters below ground level.
Saint-Petersburg is the leading European city in terms of its number of bridges and takes second place in canals and islands. There are 64 rivers, 48 canals, numerous embankments with a total length of 170 kilometers, about 100 islands, and 800 bridges within the limits of the city. Its inland water bodies amount to almost 10% of Saint-Petersburg's total area. Due to this fact Saint-Petersburg is often called "the Venice of the North".