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Russia Sightseeing

Russia Sightseeing

Russia, the world’s largest nation, borders European and Asian countries as well as the Pacific and Arctic oceans. Its landscape ranges from tundra and forests to subtropical beaches. It’s famous for novelists Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, plus the Bolshoi and Mariinsky ballet companies. St. Petersburg, founded by legendary Russian leader Peter the Great, features the baroque Winter Palace, now housing part of the Hermitage Museum’s art collection.

St Petersburg Many of Petersburgers do not consider themselves Russians, but rather as Europeans. They go to Finland every weekend, they give their cafes and hotels Finnish names and distinguish 100 shades of grey in clothes. Yet by building the Peter and Paul Fortress, Peter the Great aimed to protect the city from the Swedes.  As well as the Hermitage with its baroque and rococo styles, and Voltaire’s library which was bought out by the educated Catherine, the Kunstcamera museum is a must for visitors to St Petersburg. After looking at two-headed dogs and embryos preserved in alcohol, visit the monument of Peter the Great which is surrounded by a fence of champagne bottles. No matter how many times the place is cleared, newlyweds still hang their “trophies” on the fence.

Moscow In contrast to St Petersburg, Moscow is a city of wide avenues and massive Soviet buildings – from the Lenin Russian State Library which has 275 km of shelves, to Stalin skyscrapers representing Stalin’s Empire style.All tourists, however, go to see the Kremlin and Red Square first. Having originally been a market and an execution yard (the place of bread and circuses), Red Square is now the first port of call for foreign and local tourists alike. Even today, it is the centre of Moscow life, allowing you to plunge into the history of the city quickly and easily.

Kazan is officially called “the third capital of Russia”.In 2005, the city turned 1000 years old. Despite its impressive age, the oldest Annunciation Cathedral, Kazan Kremlin, and the core of the old city, the Old Tatar Settlement and iconic buildings of the century-before-last, are still preserved in the centre of the city. Interestingly, there are also many modern architectural monuments alongside the history. These include the “Frisbee” of the circus as the symbols of Kazan, and the modern Qolsharif Mosque.

The Golden Ring Fans of Russian Orthodoxy who wish to experience the calm and profundity of the Russian faith often go on tours around cities which are famous for their unique monasteries and churches of the 12th-17th centuries. These cities have rather poetic names: Sergiyev Posad, Alexandrov, Kostroma, Pereslavl-Zalessky, Uglich, Ivanovo, Yaroslavl, Rostov Veliky, Suzdal and Vladimir.

Novgorod Veliky The history of the city is closely connected with the history of Russian statehood, of which one of the pillars is Orthodoxy. For this reason, you can find lots of churches, monasteries and other places of worship in Novgorod Veliky. The most extraordinary is Sofiysky cathedral, which was built in the 11th century. It contains the remains of six Russian saints and many important icons, including the miracle-working icon of Our Lady of the Sign.

Volga Cruise The music plays almost constantly on the top decks. Events and discos are held here. At night, the motorboat travels quickly, whereas during the day, it stops in cities along the way. In Volgograd you can visit Mamayev Kurgan and see the giant statue of the Motherland. In Astrakhan you can buy fish and watermelons if you go during the season. And in the warmer months, you can swim in the Volga.

Lake Baikal The pearl of Siberia. The oldest and deepest freshwater lake on the planet with unique, untouched flora, fauna and tasty omuls which the locals catch and then cure by smoking. Walking along the area’s ecological routes and communicating with the locals who are untouched by civilisation will help you immerse yourself in nature. You can also visit an inhabitable Buryat yurt. 

Yekaterinburg Traditional churches and Soviet avant-garde. The city combines two delights in one – ideal for those who want to see traditional Orthodox churches whilst exploring the architectural style of the builders of the “new world” who tried to destroy these very churches.  Yekaterinburg also has the biggest collection of monuments of Soviet constructivism, standing side by side with traditional museums (the Museums of Local Lore and Art History). There is also a Keyboard Museum!  

Sochi From all-Union health resort to the Olympic capital  Besides the Olympic complex, you can enjoy the remains of what several generations of ordinary Soviet workers have enjoyed for many years.  These are sanatoria, wellness activities, walks along the waterfront, swimming in the sea, an arboretum, fresh mountain air, tropical flowers, humming-birds, and the world’s tastiest khachapuris!

Trans-Siberian Railway You need strong nerves to go on a train journey around Eurasia. Not everyone can spend almost a week in an enclosed space on wheels.  However, those brave souls who do make the journey are rewarded by seeing 80 cities, the Volga River, Ural Mountains, Baraba steppe with its ominous clouds, Yenisei River, Barguzinsky Mountains, the woods of Siberia, Khekhtsir Range and Lake Baikal. Your journey will leave you with vivid memories, while the constant motion of the train will stay with you for days after.

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