The Saint Petersburg State University (SPbGU) is one of the oldest and largest higher education institutions in Russia. It is one of the two Russian establishments featured in international rankings of the world's top universities. Since its old days as a capital-city university, the SPbGU continues into the present today as one of the central pillars of the nation's academic life, attracting large numbers of students from all over Russia, as well as foreign students.
The history of SPbGU begins in 1724, when Peter the Great signed the decree which laid the foundations for a new system of science and education in Russia. After going through numerous transitions, the university was re-established in 1819 and has continued to operate uninterrupted ever since - even during the blockade years of World War II. Over the course of its existence the university has educated a plethora of famous scientists, writers, statesmen, and athletes. The periodic table of chemical elements was created by Dmitri Mendeleev during his years working at the SPbGU. Among its famous alumni are seven Nobel prize laureates and two recipients of the Fields Medal in mathematics, including Grigori Perelman. The roster of outstanding personalities continues with names such as Peter Stolypin (Russian Prime Minister, leader of the Third Duma), Vladimir Lenin (Russian revolutionary leader), Ivan Turgenev (famous novelist), Alexander Blok (Russian poet), and Mikhail Vrubel (famous artist).
The university buildings are located on Vasilyevsky Island, in the Smolny Palace, and in Peterhof. The Vasileostrovsky (on Vasilyevsky Island) and Petrodvortsovy (in Peterhof) are two of SPbGU's student campuses housing a total of 20 dormitories. The Vasileostrovsky complex is located in downtown Saint Petersburg within walking distance of a subway station and bus stations. The Petrodvortsovy complex is located outside city limits, but has all the amenities necessary for learning and relaxation. Getting from the Petrodvortsovy to Saint Petersburg is easy by commuter train or bus.