Czar Peter the Great moved the capital city of Russia from Moscow to Saint Petersburg in 1713. The area had originally been settled by the Swedish, but was captured by Peter in 1703. Peter tore down the Swedish fort that had been built on the site and used conscripted Russian peasants as laborers to build the Peter and Paul Fortress as the first major building in what was to become his new capital city.
Peter relocated the Russian capital to Saint Petersburg because it was closer to Western Europe. As Peter strove to modernize Russia by introducing western methods of industry, government, and military practices, it was advantageous for many reasons to have the seat of government located in a seaport with easy access to the nations of Western Europe.