Thursday, April 24, 2014


When I was a kid, I saw the movie White Nights with Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gregory Hines.  The story took place in Leningrad and since then I always wanted to visit the city.  Well even though Leningrad is now once again called St. Petersburg, it's still possible to get a glimpse of Leningrad since the city has more than 230 places still associated with Lenin.

After the fall of communism, many countries were quick to get rid of the socialist art.  However, St. Petersburg isn't hiding from its history.  I was told that after the USSR collapsed, the government needed all of its money to keep the country going.  There weren't a whole lot of rubles left over to remove all of the hammer and sickle designs from the building facades.

Five days after Lenin died, Petrograd was renamed Leningrad, on 26 January 1924, and it remained until 1991.

In front of the Finland station, at Lenin Square, is a big stature of Vladimir Lenin.  In April 1917, this is where he returned to from exile.   

The train that brought him back to Russia is sealed and on display.  On 1 April 2009, some vandals used dynamite to blow up part of the statue.  The hole in Lenin's backside has since been repaired.

In 1945, Joseph Stalin named Leningrad as a hero city of the Great Patriotic War (WWII).  To celebrate the 20th anniversary of victory, the city was awarded the Order of Lenin and the USSR's Gold Star medal for heroic resistance and the tenacity of the survivors of the Siege.  In 1985, the Hero City obelisk with the gold star was unveiled.

Leningrad siege memorial

The "Big House" was the city's KGB Headquarters.  This is where thousands of people were interrogated, shot or deported to labor camps.  Today the building is still used by the FSB; Russia's Federal Security Service. 

The largest Lenin statue in St. Petersburg is at Moskovskaya Square in front of the House of Soviets.

The Solovetsky Stone is a 10 ton granite boulder which was brought from the Solovki prison camp where mass executions took place.  In 2002, it was dedicated as the Memorial to the Victims of Political Repressions in Petrograd - Leningrad.

Today, St. Petersburg is the most western and modernized city in Russia. 

At the same time, it's pretty surreal to see so many reminders of the Soviet Union still around.

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