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Useful Notes / Saint Petersburg

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"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. It is, alongside İstanbul, one of the premier examples of Please Select New City Name.note 


The second city of Russia, Sankt Peterburg was actually the capital of the country until shortly after Red October. Both revolutions centered around here. The Russian Navy cruiser Aurora fired the first shots of Red October and is now preserved in Saint Petersburg as both a museum ship and the ceremonial flagship of the Russian Navy.

As a result of its history, the city contains quite a few palaces. The Mariinsky (or Kirov) Ballet, regarded as one of (if not the) premier classical ballet companies in the world, is based in the city. Also resident in the city is its associated school, the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet; founded in 1738 as the Imperial Ballet School, the Mariinsky and its school remain the heart of the Russian ballet tradition to this day.

It is 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.


Gazprom, Russia's largest company by revenue, is headquartered in St. Petersburg. It is one of Russia's four Fortune Global 500 companies (the other three are based in Moscow).

St. Petersburg in fiction:

  • Features heavily in many 19th Century Russian classics: Anna Karenina, Crime and Punishment, The Idiot as well as many stories and poems by Nikolai Gogol stories (The Overcoat, Nevsky Prospect, Diary of a Madman) and Aleksandr Pushkin (The Queen of Spades, The Bronze Horseman). The novel Petersburg by Andrei Bely considered by Vladimir Nabokov to be the greatest Russian novel of the 20th Century is also set in the titular city.
  • 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 moniker "the Criminal Capital of Russia," and most of those films and shows portray it accordingly. On the other side of the law, the Cult Classic Brother1997, as perhaps the most authentic depiction of the "wild '90s" spirit in Russian film, is also set in St. Petersburg.
    • By The New '10s, 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.
    • In Lukyanenko's The Stars Are Cold Toys, St. Petersburg is once again the capital of Russia. We're never told why, only that Moscow is now seen by most as a dying city, with the elite seeking to move to St. Petersburg or other cities.
  • 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.
  • Nikolai Dante portrays it as the capital of the empire. Since the strip is Tsarist Russia in the far future, this makes a lot of sense.

Alternative Title(s): Leningrad, Petrograd, The City Formerly Known As