When Russian President Putin and U.S. President Bush held their summit meeting last month, the serious political discussions took place in Moscow, but the informal meetings that seemed to deepen the personal relationship between the two leaders were held in President Putin's hometown of St. Petersburg.
This was a city planned down to the most minute detail by an emperor with an obsession to build a capital to rival any in Europe. It rose out of the swampland where the Neva River empties into the Baltic Sea. Its palaces and canals are reminiscent of Amsterdam and Venice.
St. Petersburg was the dream and passion of Czar Peter the Great - the showcase of his empire his "window on Europe."
It stayed that way for more than 200 years. But, then came revolution, war and neglect. St. Petersburg's grand buildings and palaces were left to crumble.
VOA's Sonja Pace just visited the fascinating city that was once home to Russia's czars. In this edition of Dateline, she reports on efforts to restore the city's monuments, museums and palaces to their former glory hopefully in time for next year's celebration of the 300th anniversary of the city's founding.