St. Petersburg

Built in imitation of Amsterdam by Tsar Peter the Great, St. Petersburg has been Russia’s “Window on the West” for three centuries. Its cosmopolitan mix of foreign and indigenous culture—and the unlimited ambitions and budgets of its leaders—has produced one of the most stunning cities on earth, a gracious metropolis of canals, grand avenues, and spectacular architecture in styles ranging from Russian Baroque to Constructivist.

The modernization scheme for which the city stands made Russia a great power on the global stage but it has also brought on tremendous instability and revolutionary violence.