There are few cities in the world which have such a striking history as St Petersburg. Created thanks to the indomitable will of a single man, Peter the Great, the brilliant northern capital of Russia was destined to be born and grow on the swampy lands adjoining the Neva River. This north-east area had once belonged to the Vodskvya piatina or district of the Principality of Novgorod the Great. The banks of the Neva had since long attracted the Swedes who made numerous attempts to take hold of these lands. So it was important for Russia to strengthen the Novgorodian borders in order to prevent Swedish colonization.