St Petersburg is known as a cultural center and for its elegant buildings, and is spread over 42 islands in the delta of the River Neva. In comparison to Moscow, which tended to be more Eastern in character, St Petersburg has always retained a European flavor and was intended as a ‘Window to the West’. It was built by Peter the Great in 1703 and remained the capital of Tsarist Russia for 200 years. Wide boulevards, tranquil canals, bridges and some of the best examples of tsarist architecture gave rise to the epithet the ‘Venice of the North’. The Palace Square and the Winter Palace (Hermitage Museum) are among the most popular attractions for enthusiasts of Russian history.