St. Petersburg (Sankt-Peterburg; Санкт-Петербург) was founded by Tsar Peter the Great (Pyotr Romanov) on May 27, 1703. The city is the current Imperial Capitol of the Russian Empire, as well as the largest city.
In addition, it is the capitol of the Baltic Imperial District of the Russian Empire. The Winter and Summer Palaces, the seasonal places of residence of the Tsar, are located here, as well as many other notable buildings.
Unlike other Russian cities, a grand-duke does not rule over the city. Rather, a Proktor from the Royal Family is selected for this task. The current Royal Proktor is Mikhail II, who also serves as co-Tsar of the Russian Empire, along with Tsar Vladimir I.
Originally the location of a Swedish fortress called Nyenskans, Tsar Peter "the Great" Romanov captured the fortress during the height of the Great Northern War, on May 12, 1703. After burning Nyenskans, Peter the Great then erected a new Russian fort, Peter and Paul Fortress: the first stone structure of the city.
Located on the banks of the Neva river in the estuary of the Gulf of Finland, Peter saw this as an ideal location for a city. He immediately ordered thousands of Russian serfs, as well as Swedish prisoners-of-war, to begin construction. Peter's most trusted general, Aleksandr Menshikov, oversaw construction of the city.
Less than two weeks after construction began, the city was officially inaugurated into the Russian Empire, on May 27 of the same year.
Nine years later, Peter decided to move the Russian imperial capitol from Moscow, to St. Petersburg. Eager to see the completion of his capitol city, Peter hired a French architect named Jean-Baptiste Alexandre Le Blond in March of 1716. The Tsar hoped Le Blond would "imperialize" the city, and he did just that, most notably installing an impressive canal and grid system throughout the city. By Peter the Great's death in 1725, Saint Petersburg was a world-class city. Buildings such as the Summer and Winter Palaces, the Menshikov Palace, the Kunstkamera, the Peter and Paul Cathedral, and the Palace Square now stood proud in St. Petersburg.
When Peter the Great's son, Peter II, took the throne as Tsar in 1726, he moved the imperial capitol briefly back to Moscow. However, in 1732, Tsaress Anna I once again made St. Petersburg the capitol, where it remains today. During the second move, though, the city's admiralty building (city hall) was moved from Peter and Paul Fortress to Palace Square, where it remains today.
During the late 1730s, a series of catastrophic fires damaged St. Petersburg. It was for this reason that a German architect, Burkhard Christoph von Muunich, proposed that rather than wood buildings, stone and marble buildings make up the majority, to prevent further fires. A law was passed in 1737 by Tsaress Anne, and the construction of wood buildings in St. Petersburg was outlawed. Within time, the city would be given the nickname "City of Marble".