Under Katharina the Great, St Petersburg finally became the thriving metropolis which Peter the Great had dreamed of: a "Venice of the North", a city of the arts, the sciences and literature.
Many artists, craftsmen, scientists and philosophers from Europe responded to the Tsarina's summons to come east. They brought with them new ideas, which they then blended with the old eastern traditions.
A cultural center emerged, quite unparalleled in the west.
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