St. Petersburg, Russia, emerged from the vision of one man, Czar Peter the Great, at the beginning of the 18th century and was the country’s capital for 200 years, until the Russian Revolution. Pushkin called it Russia's "window to Europe," and like Venice and Amsterdam, two cities that inspired Peter, the city was built on a network of canals.
Among the city's tourist attractions, the Hermitage is its most famous. It is one of the world’s greatest art museums, and the largest museum in the world—with almost three million objects collected in five buildings. Performing arts, too, abound: Many of Russia’s greatest ballets, plays and operas have premiered at the Mariinsky Theatre. Nearby, the summer residences of the czars, including Peterhof, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are dazzling gilded Baroque palaces for sightseeing in St. Petersburg.
St. Petersburg is at its most beautiful during the famous White Nights, when summer days stretch late into evening hours. Residents make the most of the period with festivals and concerts and fun things to do, and the city’s many pastel-colored buildings and neoclassical palaces glow in the warm light of the long days.