in Saint-Petersburg


Post-war reconstruction

The war was not yet over, but Leningrad had already started to recover from the tragic years of the Siege and all the damage it wrought on the city. Some of the city's museums, such as the Cabin of Peter the Great for instance, reopened as early as 1944. By the time the victorious Soviet army marched back into the city, Leningrad looked fresh and clean, and the ruins of some of its most celebrated buildings had been covered with temporary cardboard walls, in an attempt to depicting their pre-war appearance. The whole city, the whole country, had dreamt of a revival and it did come.

Despite the enthusiasm of the people, a significant part of the national economy was ruined by the war and the population had to endure many more long months of harsh conditions and bleak prospects. Food rationing was a common feature throughout the 1940s and due to the destruction of 2.8 million sq. meters of city housing and the damage to a further 2.2 million sq. meters, housing became a major problem. Up until the 1960s most of the people Leningrad still lived in so-called "communal" (shared) apartments.

Against all the odds the city was transformed. Unlike many other cities Leningrad was not modernized, but restored to its pre-war Imperial glory. The palaces of Peterhof and Pushkin were almost completely destroyed during the siege and millions of roubles went into their meticulous restoration and reconstruction.

Some of the city's suburban palaces, such as Aleksandrovsky Palace of Nicholas II in Pushkin, still await restoration. Leningrad's museums reopened swiftly the war, having undergone speedy restoration. But a carefully preserved blue Bombardment Warning sign, painted on the side of a building on Nevsky Prospekt, and the green mounds of the Piskariovskoye Memorial Cemetery mass graves still remind us of the tragic past of the city.

St. Petersburg today

The 1970s and the early 1980s were a period of stability for the Soviet Union and for Leningrad. Though political freedoms were greatly limited, most of the city's population enjoyed relative prosperity. When the government initiated the reforms known worldwide as Perestroika, stability rapidly disappeared and the population began experiencing economic hardship as the government quibbled over reforms. In 1991, after a city-wide referendum, the city of Leningrad returned to its original name - St. Petersburg.

Now, just after the turn of the new millenium St. Petersburg is still in a transition period, both economically and socially. While the city's industries is still in recession, services and retail sales are gradually improving and more and more foreign businesses are being attracted to the city;s new business climate. Although, still far behind Moscow in economic terms, St. Petersburg had become a modern, rapidly growing commercial city. On the social side, St. Petersburg's younger generations are coping admirably with the economic changes, but unemployment remains high and families and pensioners struggle desperately to make ends meet.

Despite the city's disapointing loss of the bid for the 2004 Olympic Games, the people of St. Petersburg look optimistically to the future and welcome guests to the city and its booming tourist industry. St. Peteresburg is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and we feel we have to prove it! Just take a look at our Virtual Tour, we love this city and we are convinced you'll love it too!

So, welcome to St. Petersburg - we hope you enjoy discovering its treasures and mysteries for yourself!

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References:

Federico:
Ciao Kolja! Che dirti? Grazie mille per i tuoi innumerevoli aiuti durante il mio trimestrale soggiorno pietroburgese. Grazie soprattutto per i bei momenti trascorsi tra spiegazioni e scatti fotografici dinanzi alla meraviglia artistica della tua citta, San Pietroburgo, cosi come dei dintorni, Carskoe Selo e Pavlovsk!! Un ringraziamento anche da parte dei miei genitori...
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Federico Roman boy (Ragazzo Romano)