Saint Petersburg celebrates 313th Birthday !

Saint Petersburg celebrates 313th Birthday !
25 May 2016

May 27th is when Saint Petersburg celebrates the foundation of the city. On this day, in 1703, in the course of war against Sweden, tsar Peter the Great laid the first stone of what was to be the Petropavlovskaya Krepost, the Peter and Paul Fortress. According to legend, the emperor and his cohort were scouting the Neva river’s islands for a strategic defense location; upon landing on Zaychiy Ostrov (Hare Island), they saw an eagle flying overhead and, taking it as a good omen, the tsar decreed that the fortress should be built there. (There is also a statue of a hare on the left hand side of the bridge leading from Gorkhovskaya metro to the fortress. Try to throw a coin on its pedestal! Landing your coin on it will bring you luck.)

Petersburg was to be the Tsar’s “window to the West” – closer to the civilisation Peter the Great was so keen on learning from, and whose technology and culture he would go on to impose, for better or worse, on his Slavic subjects. The construction of the city was an impressive feat: the tsar wished for it to be built in stone and brick, like some of the great cities of Western Europe he had visited. Given the lack of resources and infrastructure at the time, however, the first cabin, which housed the tsar from the beginning, was built in wood but painted so as to resemble red bricks. After that, Peter would restrict all stone building in the rest of Russia, diverting masons and their material to his new urban project, and each new resident had to contribute stones in order to obtain residential rights. This was just one of the many examples of the strength and force of Peter the Great’s will to build his city and, through it, to profoundly alter Russia’s image vis-à-vis the rest of the world and, especially, in the eyes of the Western European courts. Hence, with the grandiose vision Peter the Great had in mind – Saint Petersburg celebrates all its galore on May 27th and 28th.

Indeed, the very fact that a city has a precise birthday goes to show how carefully and deliberately Saint Petersburg was planned. Tip: Visit Aleksandrovsky Park on Petrogradsky (near Gorkhovskaya metro station) to see the miniature models of Saint Petersburg’s most impressive buildings, and to see the life-size statues of its founders!

On May 27th and 28th Saint Petersburg celebrates out and about. We at Liden & Denz have made a selection of these for you to choose from; we hope you will make the most of the festivities!


Day 1: May 27th

Festive procession on Nevskij Prospekt / Karneval

Starts at 11:00


Opening of the Fountains in Letniy Sad (Summer Gardens)



Concert of the Jazz Ensemble of the Philharmonic

Zagorodniy Prospekt 27

Starts at 19:00


Classical Music Concert at the Palace Square

Dvortsovaya Ploschad (Дворцовая площадь)

21:00 (Tip: get there as early as you can!)

Fireworks from the Tip of Vasilyevskiy Ostrov

Vasilyevsky Island, Birzhevoy Square (Стрелка Васильевского острова)

Day 2: May 28th

Ice Cream Festival

Ploshschad Ostrovskovo (Площадь Островского)

Starts at 11:00


Exhibition „I draw Petersburg“

Letnii Sad (Летний сад)

11:00 – 17:00


Opening of the Festival of Sand Sculptures

Beach at Peter-Paul-Fortress (Пляж Петропавловской крепости)

Starts at 12:00


Concert of the Choir and Folklore Collective

Nab. Reki Moiki 20  (Наб. Реки Мойки, дом 20)

Starts at 17.00


BONUS: May 26th also marks the opening of the Mariinsky’s XXIV International Stars of the White Nights – a brilliant line-up of national and international talents in the classical music sphere. You can see the program here (and book your tickets before they sell out!):

Going on into June and July, the Festival will continue all across the city – two months of music, theatre, ballet and light-shows! Events happen every evening, but particularly beautiful and solemn among these will be the Scarlet Sails and fireworks on the Neva (Alye Parusa – read more from our bloggers at L&D: ). Rumor has it the event will take place on the night between 18 and 19 June – but the date still has to  be confirmed, so stay tuned for more info.

It’s going to be a great summer!

Esther, currently studying Russian at Liden & Denz St. Petersburg 

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