The City Formerly Known as...

aka: St Petersburg
"I'll take the first train to St. Petersburg,
there's nowhere else I'd rather be."
Havalina Rail Co., "Red and Blue (in St. Petersburg)"

St. Petersburg, Russian Federation. Formerly Leningrad. Before that, Petrograd. Before that, St. Petersburg. Before that, Nyenskans.

The second city of Russia, Sankt Peterburg was actually the capital of the country until shortly after Red October. Both revolutions centred around here.

Contains quite a few palaces.

Also home to the Leningrad Optical Manufacturing Organization, or LOMO, famous for rescuing film-based photography from extinction, and for (at least formerly) producing some of the finest high-end precision optical instruments, ranging all sizes, in the world. Directly neighboring the LOMO factory is a hospital owned by LOMO, where they hired Russia's best medical doctors in each specialty, to get direct feedback from them on their prototype medical optical instruments. For this reason, throughout the history of the Soviet Union, the city of Leningrad's name was synonymous with top-of-the-line medical care. LOMO also used to make telescopes which were highly sought-after on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Sadly their quality control of late has declined, somewhat.

St. Petersburg in fiction

  • Seen it a million times in Soviet/Russian cinema. Its representations in Russian fiction can be divided into several categories:
    • Period pieces set in Tsarist Russia, including adaptations of classical novels.
    • Dramas about the Red October and the early years of Soviet Russia.
    • World War II films, focusing on the battles around Leningrad and the 900-day siege.
    • Films set in Soviet Leningrad after the war, either playing with its Second City/Cultural Capital status, or painting a Darker and Edgier picture of urban Soviet life and the countercultures that emerge as a result of it. The latter kind is more typical of The '80s.
    • Films and TV shows set in The '90s. In The New Russia St. Petersburg acquired the monicker "the Criminal Capital of Russia", and most of those films and shows portray it accordingly.
      • By now the "Criminal Capital" image has pretty much become a Dead Horse Trope, unless it was a Dead Unicorn Trope to begin with - while there was a lot of organised crime-related violence in the city in the nineties, the city itself was more of a strategically important piece of "property" than a country-wide criminal control centre.
  • Bond drives a tank through the place in GoldenEye.
  • The first third of Anastasia takes place in the city. Which mostly gets it completely wrong; for example, both the exterior and interior of the Winter Palace bear almost no resemblance to the real thing.
  • A Dangerous Climate, one of Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's Saint-Germain novels
  • Shadow Hearts 2
  • Most of the action in Face of the Dark Palmira, Vladimir Vasilyev's contribution to Sergei Lukyanenko's Night Watch series, takes place in St. Petersburg. The city in the novel is so Dark that even the Dark-sided protagonists from other cities feel uneasy about going there.
  • A recurring and somewhat major location in Hitman 2: Silent Assassin.
  • The protagonist of Dreamfall: The Longest Journey visits an abandoned lab once run by a Nebulous Criminal Conspiracy supposedly near St. Petersburg in 2219 CE. However, there are few to no references to real-world local landmarks (except maybe some generic grim Soviet-looking colors), so the lab could just as well have been anywhere else on the planet.
  • Classic 1976 Soviet film The Irony Of Fate, in which a drunken New Year's Eve reveler winds up, through a series of odd events, flying to Leningrad and going to the wrong apartment, where he falls in love with the woman who lives there. Followed by a 2007 sequel, The Irony of Fate 2, in which events are paralleled with the children of the protagonists of the first film.

Note that several other major cities (and probably many smaller ones) have reverted to their pre-revolutionary names. Gorkij became Nizjnyj ("Lower") Novgorod and Sverdlovsk became Ekaterinburg. Volgograd, however, has not become Tsaritsyn again, and some people want to go back to Stalingrad. The only major city to retain its communist name is Kaliningrad, in the exclave of the same name. This is because the area (Northern East Prussia) and the city (Königsberg) were part of Germany until the Second World War and all towns and villages there were given Russian and Soviet names even when they had Slavic or (more commonly) Lithuanian names before. There actually is a Russian law to prevent the post-1945 Soviet names from being changed. There has been a real debate about changing Kaliningrad's name back or to something else, nevertheless, and it is often called "Kyonig" informally. See Please Select New City Name for particulars.

Alternative Title(s):

St Petersburg