Created by Peter the Great’s cruel will out of the marshes of the Neva River and constructed literally on the bones of its builders, St. Petersburg became one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It called to mind Venice and Amsterdam, but neither of these could match its magic, mystical, ethereal, sublime, almost supernatural character. Lit by sun at midnight in the summer, and wrapped in mist in the winter, the city is famous for its artistic brilliance, power, suffering and monumental heroism. St. Petersburg was the capital of the Russian empire until 1917 when its citizens jumpstarted the Bolshevik revolution and a three-quarters-of-a- century-long Communist experiment. In 1941 – 1942, the armies of Nazi Germany lay siege to Leningrad for nine hundred days, but its people stood firm and survived paying a terrible price – the lives of more than half a million men, women and children. St. Petersburg/Leningrad has become a symbol of the fighting human spirit that does not surrender and of a beauty that never dies.