Imperial palaces line its network of canals, its stadium looks like a spaceship and some days the sun never sets. St. Petersburg is so far north that the last three weeks of June are “White Nights,” with the sky remaining light 24 hours a day.
The vast St. Petersburg Stadium was a headache for the Russian government, taking a decade to build as costs soared to 43 billion rubles (Sh67.1 billion). Worker deaths and corruption scandals marred the project.
The result is Zenit St. Petersburg’s new 67,000-seat home, which resembles a spaceship parked on the shore of the Baltic Sea. Fans should leave plenty of time to get there, since it’s a 25-minute walk from the nearest subway station.
St. Petersburg’s grandeur is all down to the vision of one man. Obsessed with trying to modernize his country, the 18th-century Czar Peter the Great decreed a new capital would be built from scratch in a swamp by the Baltic Sea. The idea was to create a metropolis as a center for European technology and ideas to enter Russia, to force the Russian nobility to adopt European traditions, and to display the glory of Peter’s empire.
Soviet revolutionaries later moved the capital back to Moscow, but locals still see St. Petersburg as Russia’s cultural capital.
The grand avenue of Nevsky Prospekt is St. Petersburg’s heart, running past parks, theaters and shops to the opulent Palace Square. That’s where Bolshevik revolutionaries took power in 1917 by seizing the Winter Palace