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University Connected Learning
Saint Petersburg is Russia's second largest city, its cultural heart, and my hometown. For almost two thirds of its 300-year-long history, Saint Petersburg served as Russia's capital. From the reforms of Peter the Great to the Decembrist revolt of 1825, and again from the Bolshevik Revolution to the 900-day-long siege during World War II, the most important dramas of Russia's history played out on the city's stage. Saint Petersburg has also served as a gateway to and from Europe: Italian architects, Dutch shipbuilders, French restaurateurs, German artisans all contributed to the image of the city, depicted by Russian literary greats such as Pushkin and Dostoyevsky. Splendid architectural gems like the Winter Palace, the Peter-and-Paul Fortress, and the Church of the Savior-on-Blood make Saint Petersburg a veritable open-air museum. Indoor museums such as the Hermitage and the Russian Museum boast some of the world's best collections of Western and Russian art, respectively. The city's numerous rivers and canals with their gorgeous bridges earned it the nickname of "Venice of the North"--but Venice lacks Saint Petersburg's "white nights" when the sun barely sets, turning bridges, statues, and wrought-iron lattice work into magical silhouettes. Yet the city's physical geography presents a challenge too: built on a marshy, flood-prone delta of the Neva River, Saint Petersburg is a marvel of urban engineering. Its location at 60 degrees north makes it the world's largest northern city: its population is greater than that of Helsinki, Stockholm, Oslo, Copenhagen, Reykjavik, and Anchorage combined--by a margin of nearly two million people! Join me for an exploration of this magnificent city and its historical significance.