St. Petersburg, Russia (map)
Founded by Tzar Peter the Great on May 27, 1703 as a "window to Europe", it served as the capital of the Russian Empire for more than two hundred years. St. Petersburg ceased being the capital when the government moved to Moscow after the Russian Revolution of 1917. With about 4.8 million inhabitants in its metropolitan area, St Petersburg is Russia's second-largest city, Europe's eleventh largest metropolitan area, a major European cultural center, and the most important Russian port on the Baltic. The city has a total area of 1439 square km, which makes it the second biggest city in terms of area among cities with over a million inhabitants in Europe, after London.
Among cities of the world having populations of over one million people, St Petersburg is the northernmost. The city is sometimes referred to as the "Venice of Russia" by Europeans and as "the Northern Capital" by Russians. It is the administrative center of Leningrad Oblast (itself a separate region) and of the Northwestern Federal District.