St. Petersburg is a city of approximately 5 million people, which is located on the Neva River where it flows into the Baltic Sea. The city was founded in 1703 by Peter the Great and served as the Russian capital from 1712 until 1918. During its history it has also been known as Petrograd (1914-1924) and Leningrad (1924-1991), and is often referred to simply as Питер. Saint Petersburg is a planned city, designed as Russia’s “window to the West” and renowned as the “Venice of the North” for its extensive use of canals. It is home to countless cultural landmarks including the Hermitage (Эрмита́ж), the Mariinsky Theater (Мари́инский теа́тр) and the architectural splendor of the nearby Catherine Palace (Екатери́нинский дворе́ц) and Peterhof (Петерго́ф).