Explore the Magnificence of Russia

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Trans sibirskaya magistralRussia occupies the vast area between the North Pacific Ocean and Europe and is the largest country in the world. According to an official estimate for August 2013, Russia is home to around 143,500,000 people. The country is spread over eleven time zones and has an area of about 17,075,200 square kilometers or 10,672,000 square miles.
West of the Ural Mountains from the Black Sea in the South to the Arctic Ocean lies a broad plain with low hills where the historical core of the Russian nation is located. East of the Urals from the border with Kazakhstan, China and Mongolia to the Arctic coast lies Siberia – a scarcely populated area covered by coniferous forest, swamps and tundra in the north and mountainous terrain in the south.
You can travel on the Trans-Siberian Express train for an unforgettable eight-thousand mile adventure. Address for Trans Siberian Express: Muchnoi per 2 St, Petersburg, Russia 191023, and contact details: phone: +7 812 570 6342; +7 812 570 4709; Fax: +7 812 315 9151 and Moscow office: phone: +7 495 662 8753. E-mail: info@transsiberianexpress.net
The Trans-Siberian Railway (Russian: Транссибирская магистраль Transsibirskaya Magistral’) connects Moscow with the Russian Far East. The Trans-Siberian has also connected Moscow with Vladivostok since 1916.
Russian train travel has been amongst the finest in the world since the days of the Tsars. Russia boasts the longest continuous rail track in the world which provides scenes of cities, monuments, cultural places of interest and fascinating historical attractions that extend from the borders of Finland to the coast of Japan.
Russia is immense, and extraordinarily long on attractions for visitors, although many lie in the very distant stretches of the planet’s most remote lands. The best known sights are in and around the nation’s principal cities of Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

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Cultural and Historical Sights
Saint Petersburg and Moscow are home to several of the world’s greatest museums. The Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg boasts an enormous collection of the tsars.
winter palaceThe State Hermitage is one of the oldest and largest museums in the world and was founded in 1764 by Cathrine the Great. The large collection of paintings is on display and consists of more than three million items. The paintings are displayed in all of the six historic buildings along Palace Embankment, including the Winter Palace, Small Hermitage, Old Hermitage and New Hermitage. The Winter Palace is a former residence of Russian emperors and is said to contain 1,500 rooms and 117 staircases.
Russia truly outshines the rest of the world with its fantastic military museums. You can pay a visit at the museums in Moscow, such as the Central Armed Forces Museum, Kubinka Tank Museum, Central Air Force Museum, and Museum of the Great Patriotic War (WWII).
The best known churches and monasteries are in Saint Petersburg and Moscow, in particular the old baroque Church on the Spilled Blood, Alexander Nevsky Lavra, and the monumental Kazan and Saint Isaac’s Cathedrals in the former, and Saint Basil’s Cathedral and the massive Church of the Annunciation in the latter. The spiritual home of the Russian Orthodox Church is to be found at the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius in Sergiev Posad on the Golden Ring. Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery in Vologda Oblast is often considered Russia’s second most important.
Other famous churches and monasteries are to be found at Saint Sophia’s Cathedral in Novgorod, the Cathedral of the Assumption in Vladimir, the fascinating Old Cathedral of Königsberg in Kaliningrad, Novodevichy Convent in Moscow, Optina Putsin, and Volokolamsk Monastery in West Moscow Oblast. Kizhi Pogost on Lake Onega and Valaam Monastery on Lake Ladoga are also popular sites.
Significant Natural Attractions in Russia
Russia’s natural attractions are impressive and popular amongst nature lovers. You can visit over a hundred Nature Reserves and National Parks throughout the entire country. Some of the Nature Reserves are preserved for scientific research and are often not possible to visit unless permits are issued.

baikal

Baikal

One of the best known destinations is Lake Baikal. Lake Baikal is a lake in Eastern Siberia, Russia. It is the biggest and deepest freshwater lake in the world, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The lake consists of a few mountain ranges. In the west there are the Baikal Mountains, in the east the Zabaikalskie Mountains. The Angara River is the only outflow of Lake Baikal.
The Baikal-Amur Mainline and the Trans-Siberian Railway both reach Lake Baikal. Buses leave from Irkutsk station throughout the day. The ride is about an hour and a half, with several stops along the way, and ends in the small town of Listvyanka, at the shores of the lake. From Listvyanka you can go by boat to the Bolshoie Koty, in the hearth of Baykal national park.
At the extreme eastern end of Russia, nearly all the way to Japan and Alaska, is wild Kamchatka, where you will find the Valley of the Geysers, lakes of acid, volcanoes, and grizzlies galore.
Exploring the Far East of Russia
amur tiger sittingWrangel Island is an island in the Arctic Ocean, between the Chukchi Sea and East Siberian Sea, and is a breeding ground for polar bears (having the highest density of dens in the world), seals, walrus, and lemmings. During the summer it is visited by many types of birds. Arctic fox also make their home on the island. Other spectacular destinations of the Far East include Sikhote-Alin Mountain range and Sakhalin. The Sikhote-Alin Mountain range is home to the Amur Tiger.
The Valley of Geysers is a geyser field on Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia, and has the second largest concentration of geysers in the world. Approximately ninety geysers and many hot springs are situated on the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East, predominantly on the left bank of the ever-deepening Geysernaya River, into which geothermal waters. The valley is difficult to reach, with helicopters providing the only feasible means of transport.
Traveling the South of Russia
Southern Russia is a region in Russia bordering the country’s Central and Volga Regions to the north, Kazakhstan and the Caspian Sea to the east, Azerbaijan and Georgia to the south, the Black Sea and Ukraine to the west.
In Southern European Russia, miles of sunny beaches along the Black Sea, tea farms and a mix of cultures make this area a hot spot for anyone who wants to experience friendly weather and enjoy plenty of sub-tropical sun. The Azov and oil-rich Caspian seas, connected by a chain of Caucasus Mountains, is a unique natural ensemble.
Two mighty rivers cut through the region; the Volga River and the Don. The Don is the birthplace and home of the Russian Cossacks.
Russia’s other mountainous territory is in its extreme south, in the Northern Caucasus. There you can experience magnificent views of the mighty Elbrus Mountains. Mount Elbrus’s peak is the highest in the Caucasus, in Russia. Many sources agree that Elbrus is also the highest mountain in all of Europe.
Favorite Russian resorts in the area include those at Sochi and Dombai. As you go further east in the North Caucasus, the landscapes become more dramatic. The forested gorges, the snow capped peaks of Chechnya and the stark desert mountains of Dagestan offer breathtaking views.
Music and Dancing in Russia
Russian classic ballet is renowned in the world and some national troupes exist even in such remote areas like Dagestan or Yakutia. Lezginka is a vibrant folk dance, always performed at big Caucasian events. If you like folk-style dancing then watching a concert of Igor Moiseyev Ensemble alive is a must.
Russia is well-known for its composers and performers. Classic music is played in many theaters. Professional jazz players meet at Jazz over Volga festival in Yaroslavl. Singing babushkas gatherings are a well-established tradition in many areas.
Music lovers can visit the big city museums that include the Bulgakov Museum in Moscow and the Anna Akhmatova, Pushkin, and Dostoevsky museums in Saint Petersburg or in quieter parts of the country, at Dostoevsky’s summer house in Staraya Russa, Tolstoy’s “inaccessible literary stronghold” at Yasnaya Polyana, Chekhov’s country estate at Melikhovo, Tchaikovsky’s house in Klin or remote hometown of Votkinsk in Udmurtia, Rakhmaninov’s summer home in Ivanovka, Pushkin’s estate at Pushkinskie Gory, or Turgenev’s country estate at Spasskoe-Lutovinovo near Mtsensk.
Things to Buy in Russia
It is hard to find a symbol of Russia more popular than the traditional Russian nesting doll. The nesting doll is called MatRyoshka (матрёшка).
Matryoshka dolls

Matryoshka dolls

The first Russian nesting doll set appeared in Moscow in 1890’s. It was carved by Vasily Zvyozdochkin from a design by a folk crafts painter Sergey Malyutin. The doll set consisted of eight dolls of decreasing sizes placed one inside the other. Today, the same process is used for hand-made nesting dolls in some Russian villages.
Russian watches have a great reputation among collectors and one must be careful not to buy counterfeits that are available in some souvenir shops. The Petrodvorets Watch Factory in Saint Petersburg still manufactures and sells the wrist watches.
Russian Sparkling wine is good and Abrau-Durso is believed to be the best brand. Abrau-Dyurso, or Abrau-Durso, is a rural locality under the administrative jurisdiction of the City of Novorossiysk in Krasnodar Krai, Russia. It is located on the shore of Lake Abrau. Abrau-Durso is both the oldest and largest producer of “Méthode Traditionelle” sparkling wine in Russia.
Russian chocolates are good! Visit Krasny Oktyabr Chocolate Factory and Museum at Bersenevskaya nab, 6 | Metro Kropotkinskaya, Moscow, Russia. You can also phone the factory at (499)2555352.
Russian Specialities
Russians have their own versions of fast food restaurants which range from cafeteria style serving comfort foods to street-side kiosks cooking up blinis or stuffed potatoes. Russian specialities include Pelmeni (meat-filled dumplings, especially popular in Ural and Siberian regions); Blini (thin, savoury buckwheat pancakes); Black bread (rye bread, somewhat similar to one used by North American delis and not as dense as German variety); Piroshki (small pies or buns with sweet or savoury filling; Golubtsy (Cabbage rolls); Ikra Baklazhanaya (aubergine spread); Borsch (beet and garlic soup); Vinegret (salad of boiled beets, potato, carrots and other vegetables with vinegar); Olivier (Russian version of potato salad) and Shashlyk (various kebabs from the Caucasus republics of the former Soviet Union).
Entering Russia
Map of Russia

Map of Russia

In order to get into the country, you will need to get a Visa except for citizens of very few countries, like those on the Western boarder of the country. You also need an “invitation” or to show that you have booked and paid for your sleeping accommodations beforehand.

Alex Sherrod

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