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City Information

St. Petersburg Fact File

  • Population 4 750 000.
  • St. Petersburg is the biggest city in the world situated that far in the north. Despite this fact, the average temperature in July is 17,7 C (64 F), in January -6,5C (20 F).
  • 44 islands, 90 rivers and canals.
  • About 150 museums, including world famous The Hermitage and The Russian Museum. Over 40 galleries and exhibitions of modern art.
  • Over 100 theatres: Mariinsky (former Kirov), Mussorgsky Opera and Ballet, Aleksandriinsky, Maly Drama Theatre, Academic Bolshoy Drama Theatre, and others.
  • 46 state and 30 private universities.
  • 1270 libraries with more then 250 000 000 volumes, among them the Russian National Library, one of the five biggest libraries in the world, founded in 1795.

St. Petersburg Brief History

St. Petersburg, "the Cultural Capital of Russia", the Emperors' Capital and "the city of three revolutions", was originally meant to be the heart of Russia, - and became it. The city changed its name three times within the last 100 years - first in 1914 to Petrograd, because its original name sounded too German in the beginning of the First World war. After the death of Lenin, 10 years later, it was renamed into Leningrad, and in 1991 the majority of the city's inhabitants voted for the original name. St. Petersburg was founded in May 1703 by Peter the Great, the first Emperor of Russia. In the Middle Ages these lands belonged to the Great Novgorod, and were on the famous trade route from Scandinavia to Greece. In the course of the Northern war Russia returned access to the Baltic Sea, and in short time the new city became the gateway to Western Europe. It became the capital in 1712 and remained until 1918, when the Bolshevik Government moved to Moscow. The reforms of Peter the Great predetermined the international atmosphere of the newborn capital.

In the first 200 years of its history the city attracted gifted architects and artists, wealthy merchants, and even army officers from many countries of the world came to St. Petersburg and dedicated their lives to the flourishing of "the Northern Venice". Now St. Petersburg is worldwide famous cultural treasury. Recently the World Tourism Organization named it among the five most attractive tourist centers.

St. Petersburg today, with its almost 5 million inhabitants, is the second largest city in Russia. It has a large number of universities, high-tech production enterprises, financial and trade companies. The growing economical and political significance of "the Northern Capital" make people think of transferring part of the capital's functions from Moscow to St. Petersburg.

St. Petersburg combines a vivid international atmosphere with traditional Russian hospitality, so it creates favorable conditions for foreign tourists and business partners, provides a friendly and healthy environment for competition and cooperation.

National Holidays

Most enterprises and organizations work a five-day week and they are closed on Saturdays and Sundays. Shops are generally open till 7-9 o'clock in the evening and there are hundreds of "night" grocery stores, which are open 24 hours. If guests suddenly come late in the evening (which often happens in Russia), it is always possible to buy drinks, snacks and fruit next door.

Our foreign and Russian students can take part in all traditional Celebrations from the New Year and Maslenitsa (Mardi Gras) to Easter with public shows, parades, school parties, folk performances.

Official Russian Holidays are:

January 1, 2 New Year
January 7 Orthodox Christmas
February 23 Fatherland Defender's Day
March 8 International Women's Day
May 1,2 Spring and Labour Day
May 9 Victory Day
June 12 Day of Russia
November 7 Day of Reconciliation and Accord
December 12 Constitution Day

The school is open and classes are held all year round except January 1st.

Useful Information

Money

All payments on the territory of the Russian Federation should be in Russian rubles. Only coins and notes issued in 1997 or later are valid currency.
Cash remains the most common way of paying for goods and services. Big shops and restaurants accept credit cards. There are also cash machines in the streets and metro stations.

Local Average Prices

1 Euro = 31 Rubel

1 rub. - 3 boxes of matches
10 rub. - an ice-cream, a bottle of mineral water, a lighter, 2-3 postcards, 2 tram or bus tickets
50 rub. - 2 cups of coffee in a cafe, 3 bottles of beer, a box of chocolates, stamps for 3 letters/postcards
100 rub. - lunch in a cafe, a film, a CD, a short taxi ride, a bottle of vodka
500 rub. - dinner in a restaurant, tickets to the theatre, a train ticket to Moscow, 100 grams of caviar

Bridges

St. Petersburg is famous for its picturesque bridges over the Neva river, opening in summer to let big ships and boats come through. It means that at night you can easily feel like Robinson on one of the city's islands from 1:35 to 5:45 am. Just in case, you can cross the Palace Bridge between 3:05 and 3:15 am.

The Police

We strongly recommend you to have a copy of your passport and visa with you all the time for a possible police-check. When checked stay calm and answer the questions politely. You will have a list of school staff phone numbers to contact in a case of emergency.

Drugs

According to the Russian legislation not only dealing, but personal use of any narcotics is considered a crime.

Transport

Metro is the most convenient and reliable public transport. St. Petersburg has one of the safest metro systems in the world. It consists of 4 lines and 57 stations, some of them are beautiful works of art. The metro is open from 5:45 am till midnight.

Taxi can be ordered by calling 068, 053 or 1 000 000. A taxi ride will cost about 10-15 Euro according to the distance travelled. There are also plenty of private drivers offering "taxi" services for lower prices. We recommend you to agree on the price before getting into a car.

Security

St. Petersburg is, generally speaking, as safe and as dangerous as any other 5 000000 city in the world. First of all, your common sense should be your main protection: try to avoid doing things which you consider dangerous to do in your country. If a stranger offers you to join a vodka-drinking competition with his friends in cheap bar - just consider the possibility that they might need more money to buy another bottle when you are out of the game.

We also strongly recommend avoiding playing cards, lotteries or other games for money. People offering these amusements in the streets and trains, at metro and railways stations are professional swindlers, they have efficient ways of involving people into games, so you risk losing your money and valuables even when you stop to watch people playing. The same cautions should be taken against people offering incredible "prizes", "discounts" and "free tours" in the street. They often act on behalf of various companies, but most of them on some step would ask you to pay an extra charge, and then disappear.

There are plenty of exchange offices in St. Petersburg, so please don't change money with unauthorized individuals - it is at least unsafe.

Many foreigners feel suspicious about tap water in Russia. "Extra-Class" offers to its students bottled drinking water which is also used to make tea and coffee