, Volume 51, Issue 1–2, pp 33–45 | Cite as

Moscow and St. Petersburg, a sequence of capitals, a tale of two cities

  • Olga Gritsai
  • Herman van der Wusten


From early modern times until the present, Russia (temporarily extended to the USSR) had two capital cities: Moscow and Petersburg. Moscow was the original capital, it was succeeded by Petersburg from the beginning of the 18th century. From the early 20th century onward Moscow again became the capital, but it became a different kind of capital at the end of the 20th century. The paper describes the evolution of the representation of the state function in the appearance of the capital cities by way of the state buildings, the monuments, the street names. In addition it analyses the fate of the former capitals (first Moscow, then Petersburg) in terms of their symbolic functions. Petersburg originated as a capital turned to the outside emphasizing Russia's European vocation, while Moscow was at first the inward looking capital city representing the distinctive spiritual values of Russia. Changes had to do with the changes in the nature of the successive political regimes and with the changing roles of the two cities within those regimes.

capital city Moscow Petersburg Russia state symbols 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Olga Gritsai
    • 1
  • Herman van der Wusten
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of GeographyAcademy of ScienceMoscowRussia
  2. 2.Department of Geography and PlanningUniversity of AmsterdamThe Netherlands

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