The majority of literary sources begin their description of St. Petersburg's surroundings with the taking of Nienshantz and the year 1703. Even in the best case, only the Oreshek Fortress, the Stolbovo peace treaty, and Prince Aleksandr Nevskij's battle at the mouth of the Izhora river will be mentioned. Here the historians seem unintentionally to forget that when Peter I came to create his window on the West, he arrived not at a deserted swampy shore, but at a place where fortresses had been standing for 500 years prior.
The history of these lands — the Izhorian land in the Vodskaja pjatina (The Novgorod Republic was divided into five administrative divisions, called pjatinas), Ingria, and Ingermanlandia — is full of historical events of the pre-Petrine era. This abundance is amazing for a comparatively small border region. But it was just this border location which turned these places into the grounds for centuries of conflicts between western and eastern civilizations, into a centuries-old battlefield.
Many of the little villages around St. Petersburg are of a much more respectable age than the Northern Capital itself; many have changed names several times. For instance, the village of Korbiselske (indicated on a Swedish map of 1662) is now called Korabsel'ki (near the state farm "Bugry"). And Irinovka — the village after which Russia's first narrow gauge railway was named — had changed its name several times over the course of a century, from Marisel'ka to Orinka to Irinovka.
Unfortunately, much has already been lost, and much is disappearing right before our eyes. But in the forests of the Karelia one can still find stones marking the border of 1323:
"Grand Prince Yurij along with Posadnik (a regional representative of the Novgorod Republic) Afromej and Marshal Avrom and along with all Novgorod hereby and forthwith conclude a Peace with their new-found Brother, Prince of Sweden Manush Orekhovits. With Ambassadors of the Prince of Sweden being: Henrich Djurovits, Geminki Orislovits, Peter Junshin, and Father Vymunder. And with Witnesses to the signing being: Ludovik and Fjodor, Merchants from the Teutonic Shore. And with a Peace being concluded unto all Ages, and with the Holy Cross being so kissed, Grand Prince Yurij along with all Novgorod hereby offer of Love: three Pogosts (an administrative unit consisting of several villages) Sevilaksha, Yaksi, and Ogreba, likewise the Karelian Pogosts. And henceforth the Division and Border shall be: from the Sea alongst the River Sestra, from the Sestra unto the Bog and to the Hill amongst such Bog, unto the River Saja, from the Saja to Solnychnyj Rock, from Solnychnyj Rock through Chermnyj Gorge, from Chermnyj Gorge to Lake Lembo, unto the Bog on Pekhkej, unto the Lake Kangas, unto Purnojarvi, unto ... Yantojarvi, unto Terzhejarvi, unto Sergilakshi, unto Samosalo, unto Zhiti, unto Korelomkoshki, unto Kolemakoshki, unto Patsoeki, unto Kajano Sea, ..." (photocopy of the original text)
However, the few folk and regional museums surrounding our "city of museums" could be counted on your fingers.
I hope that the information on this site will help you learn more about the St. Petersburg environs and will make your jaunts outside the city more interesting and enjoyable.
Sincerely, Aleksej Shvarjov
P.S. The term "St. Petersburg Environs" can be interpreted as broadly as you like, from Pskov to the Karelia. That should just about cover everything. :-)