Russia :: Bashkortostan Dagestan Ekaterinburg Irkutsk Kazan Kizhi Krasnodar Moscow Murmansk Novgorod Novosibirsk Orel Ossetia Pyatigorsk, Siberia and the far east Ryazan St Petersburg Suzdal Tula Ulyanovsk Vladimir Vladivostok Volgograd Yakutsk – so many things to do….
Russia has for many years been a land of mystery and intrigue to Westerners. For hundreds of years, depending on the direction of political winds, Russia has been an enigma, a friend, or an enemy of the West.
It is a miraculous country and still mysterious to many foreigners, with many cultural and historic treasures, unspoiled nature; and industrious, bright and hospitable people. Russia mothered Peter and Catherine the Great, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Pushkin, Tchaikowsky, Nabokov, among others, who have contributed to the rich cultural heritage.
Russia is geographically enormous, far larger than Canada or the United States. It is still the biggest country in the world, stretching from Poland to Korea and from the Polar Regions to the deserts of Central Asia. It is also the country with the most number of neighbors in the world.
On this huge landmass there are many of the worlds greatest sights to discover. St Petersburg and Moscow are surely exciting places to start your sightseeing of Russia, with world class museums, churches and other historic centers well worth exploring.
St Petersburg is the cultural capital of Russia. The city was founded in 1703 by Peter the Great. It was renamed Petrograd and Leningrad during the twentieth century. In the early nineties people vote to get its old name back. The city contains many cultural heritages as, the Hermitage, the Mariinsky Theatre and the Russian Museum. Most famous inhabitants of this city; Dostoyevski, Pushkin, Tschajkovski, Lenin and the current president of the Russian federation Vladimir Putin.
Moscow is one of the oldest and one of the most beautiful Russian cities.
The emperors, or tsars, made the city their base of rule until 1712, when the capital was moved to Saint Petersburg. Moscow was restored as Russia’s capital in 1918, and it served as the capital of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) from 1922 until 1991. Since then Moscow is the capital of the Russian Federation.
Moscow has a long and full of drama history. Many times the city has been completely destroyed and rebuilt again. Its most ancient wooden buildings disappeared in fires. Each time the city resurrected from the ash to become more and more beautiful. Each time the most talented and famous architects were invited from around the world to restore Moscow.
That is why Moscow has absorbed many different styles that strike the visitors with their variety. Stalin epoch monumental buildings neighbor with small two-store XIX century town houses; splendid cathedrals peer from modern skyscrapers. Even in the heart of Moscow, in the Kremlin, old churches compete with the immense Congress Palace for space.
Despite its size (about 900 square kilometers) and the scale of many of Moscow buildings and avenues, the general layout is easily grasped – a series of concentric circles and radial lines, emanating from the Kremlin – and the center is compact enough to explore on foot.
For more information on other attractive places that you can see in Moscow, please check the Sights section.
Irkutsk is located 60km East of the world famous Lake Baikal. It is administrative centre of Irkutsk oblast (province) in the east-central Russia. The city lies along the Angara River at its confluence with the Irkut River. More than 750,000 people live in this city surrounded by natural beauty. Gorgeous birch forests link urban center to its residential area giving a kind of resort feeling to Irkutsk.
It was founded as a wintering camp in 1652, during the first Russian colonization of the area; a fort was built in 1661, and Irkutsk rapidly became the main centre of Cisbaikalia and of the Russian trade route to China and Mongolia. It acquired town status in 1686. Its importance grew after the coming of the Trans-Siberian Railroad in 1898. The city of Irkutsk, with attractive embankments along the river and many surviving wooden houses on its tree-lined streets, is an administrative and cultural centre for Eastern Siberia and of the Russian Far East. Irkutsk State University (1918) and the Siberian branch of the Academy of Sciences are among the city’s many teaching and research institutes.b>Irkutsk has taken on several roles in its nearly 350 years of existence, including expedition base for explorations of Siberia, city of exiles, and gold rush town, just to name a few. The city’s nicknames include the capital of Siberia, the pearl of Siberia, and even Paris of Siberia.
Irkutsk is lighthearted and sunny, filled with pastel-colored 18th century buildings and delicately sculptured old wooden houses where the political rebels lived n serene exile. Elaborate brick mansions were built at the turn of the century, and the dark black wooden cabins were adorned with a local “lace” sculpture that gives them a touch of the Italian Renaissance.
In the late 19th century, gold was discovered in the nearby Lena Basin, and the Siberian Gold Rush began. People came to the region hoping to strike it rich, and those who were successful built sprawling classical mansions and financed public buildings, some of which still stand today.
Irkutsk is in many ways the heart of Siberia, with its proximity to Lake Baikal. As a local writer once noted, “To miss seeing Irkutsk is to miss Siberia.”
Novgorod is an old Russian city, history of which goes back to almost 1000 years. Once it competed with Moscow for domination of Old Russia and emerged as a political center of Slavic and Fino-Ugric tribes in the mid-9th century, while as a town it was formed in the middle of the 10th century.
Just outside of Novgorod is the Vitoslavlitsy Museum of Wooden Architecture which has a collection of 22 wooden structures all built without nails.
240 000 inhabitants populate now this nothern city. Modern Novgorod is a stunning combination of old and new.
After the Second World War the historical part of the city was built up in such a way as to avoid confining ancient temples within the narrow well-like yards of high-rise apartment buildings.
Nowadays Novgorod, lying on the highway connecting Moscow and St Petersburg, enjoys stable economic and cultural links with both capitals, the Karelia region and the Baltic states, and also attracts foreign investors.
Novgorod is also on the list of those Russian cities that have joined the New Hanseatic League. The city uses modern communication facilities, has art galleries, art school, two theaters, a philharmonic society, a ballet troupe, music and dance ensembles, casinos and discotheques. Several newspapers function in the city which also has its own television and radio stations
Novgorod is a university town. The University named after Yaroslav the Wise is one of the largest scientific centers in Northwest Russia. The city trains professional athletes in such sports as gymnastics, rowing, swimming and boxing. Modern Novgorod is a center of Russian domestic and international tourism.
Vladivostok is a pearl of the Russian Far East, its capital and the largest city with the population of 659’000 people. It was founded on July 2, 1860 by Colonel Paul F. Unterberger, a chief of engineering department of East Siberian military district.(For more details see History section).
Once created as a citadel against enemies’ invasion Vladivostok stood guard for many years. The city covers over 600 sq. km and lies on the shore of the Pacific Ocean at the Muraviyov-Amursky Peninsula, which is about 30 km long and approximately 12 km wide.
The city has magnificent old and new buldings,monuments and a lot of other sights to wander around.
”The highest point is the Orlinoye Gnezdo Mountain (Eagle’s Nest). The height of the Mountain is 214 m
” The mean annual temperature is +5 C, the temperature in January is -14 C, the temperature in August is +24 C The annual precipitation is 765 mm
” Railroad distance to Moscow is 9302 km
” Direct distance to Moscow is 9302 km.
” Direct distance to Bangkok is 5600 km, to San_Francisco – 8400 km, to Seoul – 750 km, to Tokyo – 1050 km.
” Vladivostok is a sister-city of San-Diego and Tacoma (USA), Niiagata, Akita and Hakodate (Japan), Pusan (Korea) and Palyan (China).
Yakutsk is the capital of the Sakha Republic that is in the East Siberia of Russia.
The Sakha Republic stretches to the Henrietta Islands in the far north and is washed by the cold waters of Arctic Ocean (Laptev and Eastern Siberian Seas). The Ocean is the coldest and iciest of all seas in the northern hemisphere, are covered by ice for 9-10 months of the year.
The Stanovoy Ridge borders Sakha-Yakutia in the south, the upper reaches of the Olenyok river form the western border, and Chukotka forms the eastern border.
Yakutsk is the major port on the Lena River. Yakutsk is also a highway center and has tanneries, sawmills, and brickworks.
Yakutsk has Sister City agreements with Fairbanks, Alaska, USA, Guirin (China), Muroyama (Japan), and Darmstadt (Germany). The city is also the home of Yakutsk State University, which has an active exchange program with the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Sakha Republic has much in common with Alaska: vast undeveloped and lightly populated lands from tundra in the north to Boreal Forest in south, an economy based on natural resources, and great cultural diversity.
It has a university (founded 1956) and the Yakutsk branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Kazan is the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan on the junction of the Volga and Kazanka Rivers about 500 miles south-east of Moscow. Founded circa 1005 AD, it later served as the capital of the Kazan Khanate.
It is an ancient city filled with magnificient buildings, monuments, boulevards and many other incredibly beautiful sights to see. In fact, Kazan is devided into two distinct parts : the upper town with the Kremlin, where the Russian gentry, merchants and craftsmen lived, and the lower town , the Old Tatar and new Tatar settlements, where Tatar tradesmen, merchants and even peasants lived, since cultivated fields extended to the very edge of the lower town.
In the cultural sence, Kazan always struck a balance between Europe and Asia: the life-style of a provincial capital combined with the traditional mode of existence, resulted in a fascinating synthesis unique to Kazan.
Naturally , the architectural regulations of the time also affected the construction of Kazan ’s stone mosques from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries, which were built, as a rule, where old wooden mosques had been standing before. Although only a few of the mosques have survived , they demonstrate a surprising variety of architecture.
Novosibirsk is a heart of Siberia and is considerd its cultural and industrial center with the population of 1.6 million people.
By all standards its a relatively young city founded in 1893. Actually at that time the city was called Novonikolaevsk aft the Nicholas II (Nikolay Alexandrovich Romanov) the last Emperor and Sovereign of Russia.
Considered the business center of Siberia, Novosibirsk is a home to the largest Siberian banks, as well as the Siberian Stock and Commodity Exchanges.
Aside from business, Novosibirsk has a rich cultural and spiritual life.
Six theatres, a philharmonic orchestra and a musical conservatory are located in the city.
The Novosibirsk Opera House, an architectural marvel in itself, houses two permanent ballet and opera companies known throughout the world.
The intellectual community is equally rich and is fostered by more than 16 institutions of higher education. Since 1957 city serves as a center for Siberian Science Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. It has a special place called Akademgorodok (the Academic City).
Murmansk known as Romanov-on-Murman at the date of its foundation September 21, 1916 is the centre of Murmansk region and the largest Russian seaport on the Arctic Ocean. The city was named after the Russian Royal Dinasty Romanovs Romanov-on-Murman. The name Murmansk the city got after the Revolution in 1917. Some consider that the word Murman is decsended from “Nurman” (Normann). Peoples of Scandinavia Russians called as “Murmans”.
Murmansk’s development has started just in the beginning of this century. Before that, the Kola Peninsula was inhabited only by the Skolt Lapps and a few Russian settlers. The main sources of livlihood are fishing, shipping and the navy. This is a great sight to see largely because of the unique Arctic nature. The peninsula is covered by thousands of lakes and dense forests. Here you’ll observe the polar day in summer and the polar night in winter.
The Kizhi is one of the most precious world sights protected by UNESCO. One should definitely visit this perfectly preserved and arranged outdoors museum
The Kizhi open-air museum is situated on Kizhi Island 70 kilometers to the northeast of Petrozavodsk-the capital of Karelia.
The Kizhi historic, cultural and natural complex is a unique historic area having no equal in the European North of Russia reflecting the concentration of the monuments of the Russian heritage.
Vladimir one of the oldest and most famous cities of Russia is the center of the Vladimir region.
The city has the population of 360,000 people and covers the area of 11,145 hectares.Growing cities in the region other than Vladimir are Kovrov, Murom, Alexandrov and Gus-Krustalny.
Vladimir has a millenial history; according to the latest data discovered by the historians and archaeologists, Vladimir was founded in 995.
In the early part of Vladimir’s history the city was the capital of Russia. It was a political, cultural and religious center .
Vladimir is famous for its unique cathedrals dating back to the XII century. Four of them are included in the UNESCO World Heritage list.
The city belongs to the so called “Golden Ring” of Russia and, consequently, presents a major international tourist center.
The geographical position of Vladimir makes it an attractive place for business development. The city is located in the Central Region of Russia; 180 km east of Moscow. Such prominent scientific-industrial centers as Nizhni-Novgorod, Ivanovo, Yaroslavl and Ryazan are situated not far from Vladimir. The city is linked with them by railways and highways.
Suzdal is a small pretty provincial Russian town. However, once it was capital of the ancient state named Rostovo-Suzdalskaya Rus’.
The city has history of ten centuries and is famous for its cultural influence on entire Russia.
Suzdal is in 230 km east of Moscow, and its neighboring city of Vladimir, are known worldwide for architectural masterpieces of XII to XVII centuries.
Photo by Wikimedia Commons.