Saint Petersburg, with its population of about 5 million people, is the second largest city in Russia. It used to be the capital of this country for about two centuries and is still sometimes referred to as the Northern Capital. It’s the largest port in the north of this country and its key industry is shipbuilding. The city lies in the delta of the Neva on tremendous islands. Actually, the city was founded on one of these islands, the so called Hare Island. There are many rivers, canals and streams in the city and their banks are spanned by big and small bridges. The Blue Bridge, which is the broadest of them, is almost 100 meters wide.
In the 17th century the lands along the Southern shore of the Gulf of Finland belonged to Sweden. So, at that time Russia was cut off from the outlet into the Baltic Sea. That was a great obstacle for the further development of Russia’s trade and economy. That’s why in 1700 Peter I launched the war against Sweden. The objective of the war was to get an excess to the Baltic. This war came down into the history as the Northern War. It lasted till 1721.
In May 1703 the Russian troops conquered an important Swedish fortress in the delta of the Neva River. Peter I ordered to construct a new fortress to protect these lands from the enemy. The fortress was called Peter and Paul Fortress and since then the date of its foundation, May 27th 1703, is celebrated as the birthday of St. Petersburg. The city began to grow around the fortress. In 1712 Peter I transferred the capital from Moscow to St. Petersburg.
During its existence the city changed its name three times. In 1914 Russia was at war with Germany, that’s why the German name St. Petersburg was changed for Petrograd, “The City of Peter”. After Lenin’s death it was called Leningrad to commemorate his name. But in 1991, as the result of a referendum, the city was given back its original name.
Words and expressions:
the second largest city — второй по величине город
St. Petersburg is referred to as the Northern Capital — Петербург называют северной столицей
tremendous islands — множество островов
to span — соединять
gulf — залив
outlet — выход
obstacle — препятствие
to launch a war — начать войну
an objective — цель
to come down into the history — войти в историю
to transfer — перенести
to commemorate — увековечить