St. Petersburg, situated on the shores of the Gulf of Finland and the banks of the Neva River, is the second largest city in Russia and a place of attraction for tourists from all over the world. Traveling to St. Petersburg is like moving in time, only in this case you are simultaneously in the past, present and future. Volleyball fans of St. Petersburg support their favourite team Zenit, and more recently watched from the stands the competition for an Olympic ticket to Tokyo 2020.
History and landmarks
The decision to build the city was made in 1703 by the first Russian Emperor, Peter I. The territory on which St. Petersburg stands was transferred from Sweden to Russia following the Northern War. Peter I, having studied the delta of the Neva River, decided to build a fortress, naming it in honour of the apostles Peter and Paul - Petropavlovskaya. In a short time, the city began to grow, and after three centuries it developed into one of the most beautiful metropolises in the world, attractive for its architectural panorama and enchanting romance. For more than 200 years St. Petersburg was the capital of Russia. In 1712 the city was given an official capital status and until 1918 (with a break during the reign of Peter II) St. Petersburg retained this privilege, being the centre of the Russian Empire. Events took place here that were key for Russia and Europe as a whole. The victories of Peter I, the Golden Age of the Empire, the Silver Age of Russian poetry, the Russian Revolution, the heroic defence of Leningrad - all this is remembered by the granite of the banks of the Neva.
The creative atmosphere of St. Petersburg attracts poets, artists and romantics, and the variety of valuable cultural, architectural and historical monuments brings millions of tourists to the city. Most of the buildings in the centre and the suburbs have survived from the 18th and 19th centuries without significant changes in their appearance, so a trip to St. Petersburg reveals the way the country was in those days. The city is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites: The Hermitage, St. Isaac's Cathedral, the Russian National Library, the Russian Museum - the density of attractions in the historical centre of St. Petersburg is incredibly high. The city is famous for its wonderful churches: Peter and Paul Cathedral, where Peter I and other members of the royal family rest; St. Isaac's Cathedral, the dome of which contains 100 kg of gold; Kazan Cathedral, built on the model of St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome; the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood, built on the spot where Emperor Alexander II was mortally wounded. The Mariinsky, Alexandrinsky and Mikhailovsky theatres are famous among art lovers, and numerous museums keep priceless exhibits of national and world history.
Water is an integral part of the charm of St. Petersburg. There are more than 300 bridges, and the drawbridge during the famous White Nights is a favourite attraction for guests of the city. The Blue Bridge of St. Petersburg is the widest in the world at 97.3 m; and the Alexander Nevsky Bridge, 905.7 m long, holds the title of the longest. The suburbs of St. Petersburg are also famous: Peterhof, Gatchina, Oranienbaum, Pavlovsk and Tsarskoe Selo are beautiful with the splendour of their palace and park ensembles.
Volleyball has been developing in the city since the 1930s. In 1935, under the Spartak sports society, the Avtomobilist men's team was created, one of the oldest and most titled teams in the country. The same year saw the founding of the Leningradka women's team, which was also created under Spartak.
St. Petersburg, and earlier Leningrad, is one of the main centres of not only Russian, but also world volleyball. For many years one of the best trainers of the 20th century, Vyacheslav Alekseevich Platonov, worked here. The traditions he founded are carefully preserved and passed on to new generations of athletes. Thanks to Platonov, the Volleyball Academy was built in the city in 2005 with the great teacher personally and directly involved in its design. The coach saw the fruits of his labour - he held a training session for the Spartak (now Avtomobilist) team in the new sports complex, and during his lifetime, in November 2005, official matches of the Russian championship were also held at the Academy site.
Avtomobilist competes in the higher League A of the Russian Championship, and Leningradka in the women's Superleague. In 2017, another point appears on the volleyball map of St. Petersburg, the men's team of Zenit. In their very first season Zenit made their debut in the Superleague with the coaching staff assembling a powerful roster in a short time, and proved this with a record achievement - second place at the end of the season. A full hall regularly gathers at the team's matches in the Sibur Arena complex. For all three years of their existence, Zenit have been the leader among Russian clubs in terms of the number of fans in attendance.
Today the teams of Zenit, Zenit-2 and Avtomobilist train at the Platonov Volleyball Academy, where a museum has been established, named after the great coach. In August 2019, Sibur Arena became the centre of attraction for the entire volleyball community of the country, hosting the men's Olympic qualifying tournament for Tokyo 2020. Constant full houses for the matches of the Russian national team have demonstrated the highest level of interest in volleyball. The Russian national team confidently secured a ticket to Tokyo, beating all rivals in the group, Mexico, Iran and Cuba in straight sets.