As usual in Russia, it is a place of mixed meaning and effect. Founded by Peter the Great in 1703 as his “Window on the West” it is still that and for that reason a place at arm’s length from the rest of Russia. And for that reason, one of the most fascinating cities in the world.
St. Petersburg is a feminine city. She is an elegant and noble woman sitting draped with the jewels of her youth waiting for her prince to return. It is the most beautiful Italianate city in Europe. This “Venice of the North” with its symmetry, canals, architecture, statuary, museums, performing arts, palaces, gardens and languid summers with endless days make it a city never to be forgotten. The palaces are more flamboyant than Versailles and more numerous than anywhere in the world. I used to call it “Paris without paint,” but for the 300th anniversary in 2003, the lady polished her nails, groomed her hair and donned a clean and colorful dress. From my book, “Walking on Ice, an American Businessman in Russia.”
St. Petersburg is not Russia; it is the historical myth of Imperial Russia. St. Petersburg is charming, gentle, romantic. It goes to bed at ten. But during the glorious summer White Nights it doesn’t sleep at all.
As President of the Los Angeles/St.Petersburg Sister City Committee, I keep reasonably in touch.
What do you think? Have you been there?