Perhaps the case has decided everything. Initially, Peter did not think at all about building a city on the banks of the Neva, and even more so – a new capital. Just first he needed a fortress in the Neva Bay, and then needed a port that would allow to conduct maritime trade, bypassing the distant Arkhangelsk. Maybe, if Peter had previously captured Riga, St. Petersburg would never have been built: Riga, a prosperous port, was a major center of Russian trade, and its harbor was ice-free six weeks longer than Neva Bay, but Riga was in the hands of Peter only in 1710. Petersburg was founded on the place where Peter first set foot on the Baltic land. He did not know what promises the future, and did not wait. As always, rushing to seize the opportunity, Peter embarked on construction.
Petersburg is unique in many ways. It happened that in the heat of youth or in the heat of transformation other nations also founded new capitals on a place that was already empty. Examples of this are Ankara, Washington and Brazil. But no one ever founded the capital during the war on a territory that still legally belonged to the powerful and undefeated enemy at that time. Moreover, in 1703 111 such a large city was founded for the last time in the history of Europe. By that time, major cities emerged even in the American colonies of European countries: New York was almost seventy-seven years old, Boston — seventy-three, Philadelphia — sixty. And finally, St. Petersburg, for two hundred years the former capital of the Russian Empire, and then the second largest city of Russia, is the northernmost megalopolis in the world. If you mentally transfer St. Petersburg to the American continent so that it is at the same latitude, you will have to imagine a city with a population of almost five million people on the north coast of Hudson Bay.
Having descended through a wooded floodplain to the mouth of the Neva, Peter found himself on a desert, wild, swampy plain. In the lower reaches, the deep Neva makes a loop to the north, and then flows west to the sea. On the last five miles it is divided into four sleeves, which, intersecting with a multitude of current along the swampy edge of the ducts, form numerous islands covered with shrubs and low forest. In 1703, led: hectares area was a swamp. In the spring, when the snow and ice melted, a thick fog hung over it. Sometimes strong winds blew from the Gulf of Finland, the river reversed, and many islands simply disappeared under the water. Even the merchants for whom the Neva had served for centuries as a way deep into Russia did not settle here. It was too wild, damp and uncomfortable – it seemed that in such places people would not live of their own accord. In Finnish, Neva means “swamp”.
At a distance of five miles from the sea upstream of the Neva River stood Nyenskans Fortress. Closer to the sea, on the left bank, was a small Finnish farm. On the Hare island, in the middle of the river, there were mud huts, into which Finnish fishermen visited in the summer; when the water rose, the fishermen left and moved to a higher place. But in the eyes of Peter, this fast, deep river – wider than the Thames in the London area – was beautiful. It was here that he decided to build a new powerful fortress in order to protect the conquered mouth of the river. The earthworks began on May 16, 1703 – this date is considered the day of the foundation of St. Petersburg *.
* There is a legend according to which Peter borrowed a musket from one of the soldiers, bayonetly cut two strips of sod from the soil of the Hare Island, folded them with a cross and said: "There will be a city here." The soldiers began to dig a ditch, which revealed the cave with the relics of St. Andrew the First-Called – the heavenly patron of Russia. At that moment, an eagle flew over Peter’s head and sat on the top of two birch trees, connected by crowns like an arch. The eastern, or Petrovsky, gates of the future were built on this place. fortress.
The fortress, named in honor of Saints Peter and Paul, was supposed to occupy the entire island so that the Neva with its channels protected it from all sides. The swift waters of the river washed the island from the south, and from the north, east, and west lay a swamp crossed by small rivers. Since the island itself was low, the marshland and sometimes flooded, it was necessary, first of all, to deliver the ground there and raise the island above the water level. The Russian workers had no other tools besides shovels and hoes: there was not even a wheelbarrow, and the land had to be dragged to the site of fortifications under construction, poured into shirts or bags.
Despite all the difficulties, in five months the outlines of the fortress began to emerge. It was built in the shape of an elongated hexagon with six powerful bastions, each of which was erected under the personal supervision of one of Peter’s closest associates and was named after him: Menshikov, Golovkin, Zotov, Trubetskoy and Naryshkin. The construction of the sixth bastion led by Peter himself, and he was named in his honor. Originally, fortifications were built of earth and wood, then Peter ordered high and thick stone walls to be built instead of earthen ramparts. Severely and menacingly, they rose thirty feet above the Neva, bristling with rows of guns. Shortly before the end of Peter’s reign, the Hanoverian envoy Christian Friedrich Weber noted: “At one of the bastions, they, following the example of the Danes, raise the standard of the fortress on a high mast every day. On holidays, they raise another, a large yellow flag with a double-headed eagle holding in its claws the four seas washing the borders of Russia — the White, Black, Caspian and Baltic. Not far from the fortress there was a small, fifty-five feet long and twenty feet wide, one-story log cabin in which the king stayed while work was being done. It was lined up by soldiers on May 24-26, 1703. The house has three rooms – a bedroom, a dining room and an office. There are no furnaces or chimneys, since the king lived there only in summer. It is noteworthy, what kind of ingenuity Peter showed, so that the log cabin looked like a European house. The mica windows were large, with Dutch-style bindings, the roofing shingles on the peaked roof were laid and painted to give the appearance of shingles, and the hewn log walls were painted under the brickwork. (The lodge – the oldest building in the city – was for security enclosed in a brick case and has survived to the present day.)
Work on the construction of the fortress went "with extreme haste", because Peter was constantly afraid of the return of the Swedes. And indeed, their troops appeared every summer. In 1703, when a month had not passed since Peter occupied the Neva delta, a Swedish detachment of 4,000 men came up from the north and camped along the Sestra River. On July 7, the 7,000-strong Russian detachment under the command of Peter himself, consisting of four dragoon and two infantry regiments, came out against the Swedes, defeated them and forced them to retreat. Peter was constantly under enemy fire, and Patkul, who was watching, was forced to remind his high patron that "he, too, is mortal, and one musket bullet can incapacitate the whole army and plunge the country into the abyss of danger." In the same summer, Swedish admiral Nummers anchored nine ships at the mouth of the Neva, blocking access to the sea and waiting for an occasion to climb up the river and prevent the construction of Russian fortifications. Peter, meanwhile, returned to the shipyard on Lake Ladoga to speed up the construction of ships. As a result, many ships appeared on the roadstead of the Neva stronghold, including the frigate Standard. Not having enough strength to challenge the more powerful squadron of Nummers, the ships did not go to sea until the cold forced Nummers to withdraw his fleet. Then Peter on the "Standard" went to the Gulf of Finland.
The historical moment has come – the first voyage of the Russian tsar in a Russian ship on the Baltic Sea. Although the lead waters of the bay were already covered with thin ice, this did not stop Petra. When he, coming out of the mouth of the Neva, sailed westward, the rocky shores of Karelia could be seen to the right, disappearing from view at Vyborg, low rounded Ingria hills stretched to the left, stretching westward to Narva, beyond the horizon. Straight on the course, just fifteen miles from the mouth, an island appeared that the Russians would call Kotlin and not later grow a fortress and sea base Kronstadt. Rounding the island, Peter himself measured the depth and found that the sea along the northern coast was too small for navigation. But to the south of the island lay the fairway, which led directly to the mouth of the Neva. To protect this fairway, as an outpost of fortifications built on the island, Peter ordered the fort to be erected right on the shoals at the edge of the fairway. It was hard work: wooden cages filled with stones were delivered to the place on the ice and there in the spring, when the ice melted, lowered into the water, thus creating a foundation. In May, a small fort, equipped with fourteen cannons, grew right out of the sea.
Peter’s stronghold on the Baltic Sea from the very beginning was conceived as a commercial port and naval base. By imperial decree, Golovin wrote to Matveyev in London to invite merchant ships to visit the new port. The first ship, owned by a Dutch merchant, entered the Neva in November 1703, when the new Russian port was barely six months old. Hearing about the arrival of the ship, Peter personally went to meet him and lead him upstream. The captain’s surprise was great when he found out who his pilot was; Peter was pleased to learn that the ship’s cargo — wine and salt — belonged to his old acquaintance, Cornelis Calf from Saardam. The captain received 500 gold, and in his honor Menshikov gave a banquet. In memory of this joyous event, the ship was renamed "St. Petersburg" and forever exempt from duties and customs duties. Similar privileges were promised to the next two ships, which will arrive at the new port, and the captains of two ships, Dutch and English, soon followed the promised reward. Later, Peter did everything possible to attract foreign merchants to St. Petersburg. He lowered the fee so that it was less than half of the fees charged by the Swedes in the Baltic ports under their control. He promised to deliver Russian goods to England at very low prices, provided that the British would take them out of St. Petersburg, and not of Arkhangelsk. Subsequently, he had to use royal power in order to divert a large flow of Russian trade from the beaten-up Arctic route and send it through new ports in the Baltic.
In order to consolidate his position on the conquered lands, Peter spared no effort to build ships in the shipyards of Lake Ladoga. On September 23, 1704, he wrote to Menshikov: “Here everything is all right. If God willing, three frigates, four Shenyavs, and a haliote the day after tomorrow we will float. ” But Ladoga was treacherous and restless, and the new vessels were leaking, or else they were completely cast ashore at the southern tip of the lake near Shlisselburg, where the Neva originates. In order to avoid dangerous navigation on Ladoga, Peter decided to transfer the main shipyards to Petersburg. In November 1704, he laid a shipyard on the left bank of the Neva, diagonally from the Peter and Paul Fortress, just below its stream. At first the Admiralty was an ordinary shipyard, built in the shape of a rectangle. Surrounded on three sides by wooden barns and sheds, which served as workshops, forges, log huts for workers and storerooms for ropes, sails, cannons and ship scaffolding, the Admiralty remained open from the Neva. In the middle — where the main headquarters of the Russian fleet subsequently housed — a wooden spire towered, topped with a weather vane in the shape of a ship *.
* At the beginning of the 19th century, the Admiralty was completely rebuilt in stone, but its characteristic features — a rectangular layout and a central spire with a ship — were preserved. And today, as at the dawn of St. Petersburg, the twin spiers of the Admiralty and the Peter and Paul Fortress – the dominants of the urban landscape – look at each other across the Neva.
Under the canopy of this spire, in the space surrounded by barns and sheds, Peter ships were laid. The voluminous hulls were built near the shore, then they were lowered into the water and towed to the berths for finishing. To protect the Admiralty from the possible attack of the Swedes, it was surrounded by earthen ramparts with ditches and bastions. Thus, the city received a second stronghold, almost as powerful as the Peter and Paul Fortress.
In the future, the Swedes did not stop disturbing the new city with attacks both from the sea and from land. In 1705, the Russians drove long logs into the bottom of the fairway off Kotlin Island and connected them with ropes, blocking the way to the enemy’s fleet. Seeing on the horizon weave masts and ropes, the Swedes took them to the masts of an impressive Russian fleet and, after an unsuccessful shelling from a long distance, departed. In 1706, Peter, sailing in an open bay, noticed the approach of a Swedish squadron. He immediately turned to the coast and with a conditional signal — gun shots — informed Vice Admiral Cruys, a Dutch sailor who commanded the Russian fleet. Cruys, however, did not believe the signal and admitted his mistake only when he saw the Swedish ships with his own eyes. Some time later, Peter recalled this incident with a laugh. Reporting on the situation in the fleet, Cruis complained to Peter about the officers’ ignorance and indiscipline: “His majesty in the maritime work is skilled and knows what it is important to have excellent subordination in everything”. Peter answered gently: “The Vice-Admiral himself is guilty of the lack of skill in naval officers, and he took almost all of them to service. Well, to my skill, this equipment is completely undeserved. When it happened to me the other day to see the ships of my ship from the yacht and, according to the sea custom, cannon felting signify the number of these, it was honored for the fun that I could use the cup of fire. When I myself went to the vice-admiral, I didn’t want to believe me about anything, as long as his sailors didn’t see the enemy from the mast. Because I understand that it is necessary for me to not count the skilled, and if not, then this joke is no longer a joke. "
Over time, Peter became more widely aware of the role of St. Petersburg. He saw in him not only a fortress guarding the Neva estuary or shipyard for the construction of merchant and military ships in the Baltic.
He saw in him the future city. It was at this time that the Italian architect Domenico Trezini arrived in Russia, who built a magnificent palace for the king of Denmark Frederick IV. His style, like the style of most of the architects who worked at that time in northern Europe, experienced a strong Dutch influence, and it was this, borrowed in Holland, that the Protestant northern baroque brought Trezzini to Russia. On April 1, 1703, he signed an agreement under which he became the “sovereign architecture of civilization and militaria,” and Peter immediately sent him to the banks of the Neva, instructing him to supervise all construction work. For nine years, Trezzini replaced the log shacks with brick and stone buildings, and Petersburg still keeps the signs of its town planning activities. While working people poured earthen ramparts of the fortress, Trezzini built a small church inside its walls. Without finishing materials to decorate the interior, he covered the walls with yellow marbled plaster. In 1713, Tresini set about building the Baroque-style Peter and Paul Cathedral, which with some alterations has survived to the present day; its gilded spire is still rising to the sky to a height of 400 feet.
Continuous construction work required a multitude of workers. To drive in piles, cut down and remove timber, turn boulders, level hills, uproot stumps, lay streets, build docks and shipyards, build a fortress, houses and moorings — all this was constantly lacking in people. To ensure the construction of labor, Peter issued decrees year after year, calling for carpenters, bricklayers, stone-cutters and, finally, uneducated peasants to St. Petersburg. From all over the empire an endless stream of people — Cossacks, Siberians, Tatars and Finns — flowed here. They were paid for travel expenses and fed for six months; then those who managed to survive were allowed to return home, and in their place the following summer, they brought others in. The governors and landowners, whom the king forced to recruit and send people, grumbled, complaining that the villages were falling into neglect because they were taking the best workers, but Peter didn’t want to listen to anything. Were unbearable. Workers slept on damp ground in hastily made, crowded, dirty barracks. They were mowed down by scurvy, dysentery, malaria and other diseases. The salary was paid irregularly, and many began to run. The exact death toll during the construction of the city can no longer be established: at the time of Peter the Great, they were counted up to 100,000. Later figures are much lower — 25,000–30,000, but no one will deny that Petersburg is a city built on bones.
Along with the labor force, construction materials had to be imported. On the swampy plain in the delta of the Neva, trees suitable for the construction of high trees were few, and there was no natural stone at all. Initially, the source of the stone for the construction of the city was the upstream Swedish fortress Nyenskans; she was dismantled and the stone was rafted down the Neva. For a number of years, each wagon, cart or Russian ship arriving in St. Petersburg was ordered to deliver a fixed amount of stone along with ordinary cargo. The city offices and gates had special offices that accepted this tribute, and without their permission no transport could enter the city. At times, when the need for stone was particularly acute, the fate of literally every brought stone was decided by the head of the office. In order not to waste construction wood, it was forbidden to cut trees on the islands and no one was allowed to heat the bath more than once a week. Logs were delivered from the Novgorod forests and from the banks of the Ladoga. Sawmills, driven by wind or water wheels, sawed logs into beams and planks. In 1714, construction in St. Petersburg was stalled due to a shortage of bricklayers, and Peter forbade, under the fear of "confiscation of property and exile", to build stone houses in Moscow. Soon the effect of this decree spread to the whole empire. Willy-nilly, bricklayers from all over Russia, collecting tools, went to St. Petersburg in search of work.
The city required population. Few agreed to live there of goodwill, and Peter and here had to use power. In March 1708, the king “invited” his sister Natalia to St. Petersburg, two stepsisters Maria and Theodosia and two widowed queens — Martha and Praskovya, and at the same time many boyars, high-ranking officials and rich merchants. According to Whitworth, "no one was allowed to dissuade neither for years, nor deeds, nor ill health." We drove to Petersburg reluctantly. Those who are accustomed to the freedom of life in the wealthy estates near Moscow, where all provisions were delivered from neighboring villages or were cheaply purchased in the abundant Moscow markets, now had to spend a lot of money on building new houses in the Baltic swamps and paying unthinkable prices for products brought from afar. Many have calculated that they lost two thirds of their fortune with the move. There was little entertainment, and the sea, which so attracted the king, only scared them: none of them would have stepped into the boat, except under duress. But there was no choice, and they appeared. Arriving merchants and shopkeepers found consolation in the possibility of breaking exorbitant prices for their goods. Many workers — Russians, Cossacks, and Kalmyks — after serving time on building state-owned facilities and not being able or willing to go on a long journey home, remained in St. Petersburg and were hired to build private homes for nobles, whom the king ordered to settle in a new place. As a result, thousands of workers finally settled in St. Petersburg and built houses here – for themselves. Peter in every possible way encouraged and responded to any invitation, no matter where it came from, to lay an honorable first stone in the masonry of a new house and drink a glass of vodka for the owner.
And the location and appearance of the houses were strictly regulated. Noble families were instructed to settle on the left bank of the Neva, build dwellings of bru-a, sheathe and hem plaster "in English manners" (those who had more than 500 souls were ordered to build two-story houses). Log merchant houses sprang up on the right bank. Built hastily and without much desire of the owners, they had many flaws: the roofs leaked, the walls cracked, the floors sagged. In an effort to make the city look great, Peter ordered all wealthy townspeople who had one-story houses to complete the second floor. To facilitate this task, he instructed Trezzini to develop model designs for buildings of various sizes and corresponding planning, which were provided free of charge.
The city was mostly wooden, and fires broke out almost every week. For the safety of St. Petersburg residents, Peter set up a permanent fire service. At night, when the whole city was asleep, the guard on duty stood in the church bell towers. At the slightest sign of fire, the guard-attendant immediately rang the bell, and this bell was picked up by all the belltowers of the city. The ringing of the bell woke up the drummers, who, leaping out of bed, began to beat the drums. The townspeople ran out into the streets and, armed with axes and hooks, hurried to the fire. Soldiers lodged in the city were also required to take part in extinguishing the fire. Officials and officers were charged with monitoring fire safety in their area. For this, an additional charge was imposed, and evasion was strictly punished. Peter himself carried out such duties, and, like others, he received a salary for this. According to the testimony of a foreign eyewitness, "among the workers, it is often possible to see a king who, with an ax in his hand, climbs onto the roof of a burning house, putting his life at such risk that, looking at it, the frost tears through the skin." In winter, when the water froze, axes and hooks remained the only means of fighting fire. It was possible to isolate a fire if it was possible to disassemble quickly enough and pull them away to nearby houses. The presence of Peter always had an effect. The Danish envoy, Yust Yul, recalled: “Since his mind is very fast and precise, he immediately notices what to do: climbs onto the roof, appears in the most dangerous places, prompts famous people along with ordinary citizens to fight the fire and does not take a breather until the fire will not be extinguished. But if the sovereign is not there, everything goes differently. Then people stare at the fire indifferently, doing nothing to extinguish it. It is useless to admonish them and even to give them money – they are just waiting for a chance to profit from something. ”
The city was threatened by another element of nature – floods. Petersburg was built at sea level, and when the water in the Neva rose above five feet, the city was flooded. In 1706, Peter wrote to Menshikov: There was no such thing as a wind that swept over here the third day, which, they say, did not happen. I had over 21 inches over the floor in the mansions, and I rode freely in the city and on the other side, but it didn’t stay long — less than three hours.
The king recalled with laughter that many had to flee on the roofs of houses and trees, but he was pleased that, although the water had risen high, there was not much damage. In 1711, an English resident wrote: “At night on the ninth from the south-west, from the sea, such a strong wind rose that the entire city was flooded with water. Many people were taken aback and could have drowned if they had not been awakened by the ringing of the bell and they had not escaped from the rooftops. Most of their property and livestock died. ” Almost every autumn, the Neva overflowed its banks, the cellars were flooded and the stocks of products fell into disrepair. Logs and boards in large quantities were carried away by water, and it was forbidden to catch building material and appropriate it under the penalty of the death penalty. In November 1721, a strong southwest wind reversed the river so that the two-masted schooner swept through the streets and nailed to the wall of the house. “The damage cannot be described in words,” the French envoy reported to Paris, “it is hardly possible to find at least one house that was not damaged. Losses are estimated at two, or even three million rubles. (But) the king, like Philip of Spain (after the death of the Invincible Armada), shows the true greatness of the soul with his calmness. "
Even after fifteen years after the founding of the city, when majestic palaces grew along the embankments of the Neva, and gardeners discharged from France smashed flower beds, regular geometric shapes, everyday life in St. Petersburg remained, according to one foreigner, “dangerous and unsettled as in a field camp ". The trouble was that this land simply could not feed itself. The Neva Bay, with its vast water areas, forests and swamps, was scarce in harvest, and in rainy years, it happened that the bread rotted in the vine before it could be squeezed. Rescued the gifts of nature: an abundance of strawberries, blueberries and mushrooms, which were salted and pickled, preparing an excellent snack.
They hunted hares for dry hard meat, as well as wild ducks and geese. The rivers and lakes were full of fish, but, to the chagrin of foreigners, it was difficult to buy fresh fish: the Russians preferred to salt or dry it. But all that the land, forests and water brought would not have saved Petersburg from starvation if there had not been a constant supply of provisions from the outside. In the dry summer months, thousands of carts were dragged from Novgorod and even from Moscow, delivering food to the city; in winter, the supply continued along the frozen river beds. If for some reason food delivery was slowed down, prices immediately took off in St. Petersburg and in the whole district, since the city supplied the suburbs with provisions, and not vice versa. Petersburg was surrounded by a scrub of stunted birch trees stretching to the very horizon, thin pines and bushes that hid swamps; if the traveler ventured out of the way, he risked getting lost. On glades, which led inconspicuous trails, there were rare farms. In the forest thickets were wolves and bears. Bears were less dangerous: in the summer the eyes found abundant food, and in winter they hibernated. But wolves could be found all year round, in winter they were knocked down in packs of thirty to forty heads. It happened that hunger forced them to climb the farms, tear up dogs, attack horses and even people. In 1714, two soldiers were attacked by wolves, who carried a guard at the Foundry Yard: one was torn to shreds and eaten on the spot, the other, wounded, crawled away, but soon died. In 1715, in broad daylight, wolves slaughtered a woman on Vasilyevsky Island, not far from the palace of Prince Menshikov.
It is not surprising that few Russians decided to settle in these damp, deserted, dangerous places. By this time, it was completely deserted – the war and the plague wiped out the indigenous Finnish population. Peter distributed lands to nobles and officers, and they were transported from the depths
Russia has its own families and entire villages of serfs. Ordinary people, cut off from their native soil, forced to leave the picturesque hills and meadows of the Moscow region, suffered, but they endured without complaint. “It is amazing with what humility and patience those people of both high and low rank are demolishing these,” Weber wrote. – Simple people say that life for them is generally a heavy burden. The Lutheran pastor told me about his conversation with the Russian peasants: he asked them about faith – did they know what to do in order to find eternal salvation; but they are not even sure that they will be able to go to heaven at all, for eternal bliss, as they believe, is prepared only for the king and the great boyars. ”
Not only ordinary people Petersburg came not to their liking. Russian nobility and foreign diplomats tried to judge whether the city would survive its founder for a long time. Tsarevna Marya stated: “Petersburg will not stand for us. To be empty for him. ” Few saw the future for him. However, Menshikov predicted that St. Petersburg would become a new Venice and that a day would come when inquisitive foreigners would come here to marvel at the beauty of the city. The Swedes could never understand Peter’s craving for this swampy place. Peter’s relentless desire to keep the new city became the main obstacle to making peace with Sweden. When the military fortune betrayed Russia, Peter agreed to return all the conquests in Livonia and Estonia, but he did not yield to St. Petersburg and the mouth of the Neva. Few people in Sweden then realized that the king had forever split the Swedish Baltic empire, hammered a wedge between its northern and southern provinces, cutting the lines of Swedish communications through the Neva delta, and thus anticipated the future loss of the Baltic coast by the Swedes. It seemed to the Swedes that the territorial concessions in the Neva delta were insignificant, and Peter was just a fool: with such winds that regularly catch water from the gulf into the Neva, the new city would soon be destroyed by floods. This was a general opinion, and Peter’s idea became the subject of caustic jokes. The mood that prevailed in Sweden was expressed by the overconfident king: “Let the king exhaust himself with the construction of new cities, we will also have the honor to hold them.”
Peter called the new city in honor of his heavenly patron, and Petersburg became the glory of his reign, his “paradise”, “Eden” and his beloved brainchild. In April 1706, he began a letter to Menshikov with the words: “I cannot from here not write to you from the paradise here; it is true that we live in paradise here. " The city became embodied in brick and stone as a symbol of the achievements of its life: deliverance from backstage intrigues that trailed behind tiny windows in the vaulted chambers of Moscow; access to the sea; introduction to the technology and culture of Western Europe. Peter loved his newborn creation. He enjoyed seeing how the deep river carried its waters to the bay, how the waves were splashing against the fortress walls and the salty breeze filled the sails of its ships. The construction of the city has become a true passion. Nothing could force him to abandon the implementation of his plan. He spared neither his strength, nor millions of rubles, nor thousands of human lives. At first, his main concern was the erection of fortifications and security, but less than a year, as he wrote to Moscow to Tikhon Streshnev, that he sent flowers from the village of Izmailovo near Moscow: The peons have reached a good condition, and not the balsams with meat. Came and these. In 1708 he built an aviary and ordered to deliver 8000 songbirds of different breeds from Moscow.
Following Peter, the empress and emperors who replaced him on the throne would turn the original timbered and mud-clay settlement into a city glittering with magnificence; its architectural appearance is more European than Russian, and its culture and thought have united the features of Russia and the West. Granite will clothe the southern bank of the Neva, and an endless line of yellow, light blue, pale green and red stately palaces and government buildings will be built along the three-mile embankment. Unique combinations of wind, water and clouds, 150 arched bridges that will connect its islands, gilded spiers and domes, granite columns and marble obelisks will cause such admiration that the city will be called the Babylonian Snow and Venice of the North. Russian literature, music and art originate here. This is the city of Pushkin, Gogol and Dostoevsky, the city of Borodin, Mussorgsky and Rimsky-Korsakov, the city of Petipa, Dyagilev and Nijinsky. For two centuries, Russian monarchs ruled Russia from the city founded by Peter. Here the political destinies of the empire were played out, and here the last act of drama broke out, which led to the fall of the dynasty of Peter. Even the name of the city will change, for the new regime, wishing to honor its founder, will dedicate to Lenin “the best that we have”. But many citizens even then continued to call him simply “Peter.”