Exploring the Ten Largest Cities in Russia – From Moscow to Chelyabinsk

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Russia is home to some of the most amazing cities and fascinating travel destinations. Each city in Russia has its own personality. You can experience the classic Moscow of the Romanovs, the hip and elegant Moscow or explore Saint Petersburg at the eastern tip of the Baltic Sea and the Neva River.
The ten largest cities in Russia are Moscow (population: 10,381,222), Saint Petersburg (population: 5,028,000), Novosibirsk (population: 1,419,007), Yekaterinburg (population: 1,349,772), Nizhniy Novgorod (population: 1,284,164), Samara (population: 1,134,730), Omsk (population: 1,129,281), Kazan (population: 1,104,738), Rostov–on-Don (population: 1,074,482) and Chelyabinsk (population: 1,062,919).
Exciting Things to do in Moscow
MoscowMoscow can be an overwhelming experience for visitors – there’s just so much to see in this vast and vibrant city. The city is full of different kinds of clubs, restaurants and bars. The Moscow city center and Rublevka (richest area of the city) have a wide selection of luxury establishments. Tverskaya Street is also one of the busiest shopping streets in Moscow.
The most recognizable contributions of the Stalinist period are the so-called Seven Sisters, comprising seven massive skyscrapers scattered throughout the city at about an equal distance from the Kremlin. The city is situated on the banks of the Moskva River. The river rises about 90 miles west of Moscow, and flows roughly east through the Smolensk and Moscow Oblasts, passing through central Moscow.
International calls to Russia for less.
The “Stolichny” sightseeing cruiser (phone: +7-495-228-55-55) is highly recommended. The boat has a high draft allowing it to maneuver within the Vodootvodny channel. Its panoramic windows will allow you to see many fascinating sites. The Moskva River also offers five walking river ice breakers during winter. The route is from Hotel Ukraine to the Novospassky Monastery and back.
A trip to Moscow should definitely include a tour into the realm of outer space at the top secret Russian astronaut center in Star City. You will be fascinated by the story of Russian space exploration and the inner workings of the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center.
One of the most notable art museums in Moscow is the Tretyakov Gallery, which was founded by Pavel Tretyakov. The new gallery includes a small reconstruction of Vladimir Tatlin’s famous Monument to the Third International and a mixture of other avant-garde works by artists like Kazimir Malevich and Wassily Kandinsky.
Moscow is the heart of the Russian performing arts, including ballet and film. There are around 93 theaters, 132 cinemas and 24 concert halls in Moscow. Among Moscow’s many theaters and ballet studios are the Bolshoi Theatre, the Malyi Theatre the Vakhtangov Theatre and Moscow Art Theatre.
The Kazan Cathedral (also known as the “Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan”), is a Russian Orthodox church located on the northeast corner of Red Square in Moscow, Russia. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Kazan Cathedral was the first church to be completely rebuilt.
A visit to the Red Square is a must. The buildings surrounding the Square are all significant, such as the Lenin’s Mausoleum, the Saint Basil’s Cathedral nearby to the south and the palaces and cathedrals of the Kremlin. On the Eastern side of the square is the GUM department store, and next to it the restored Kazan Cathedral. The Northern side is occupied by the State Historical Museum, whose outlines echo those of Kremlin towers. The Iberian Gate and Chapel have been rebuilt to the Northwest.
The Moscow Zoo is also a popular attraction, with more than 6000 animals, representing about 1000 species. The main entrance is in the shape of a large rock castle. A footbridge connects the old (1864) and new (1926) properties of the zoo.
Discover Saint Petersburg
Saint PetersburgSaint Petersburg is located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. In 1914 the name of the city was changed from Saint Petersburg to Petrograd, in 1924 to Leningrad, and in 1991, back to Saint Petersburg.
Saint Petersburg is home to more than two hundred museums, many of them hosted in historic buildings. The largest of the museums is the Hermitage Museum, featuring interiors of the former imperial residence and a vast collection of art. The Russian Museum is a large museum devoted to the Russian fine art specifically.
The music scene in St. Petersburg is diverse, with several classical, jazz, and pop concerts to choose from each week. Among the city’s more than fifty theaters is the world-famous Mariinsky Theater, home to the Mariinsky Ballet Company and opera.
The Hermitage Museum (The Winter Palace) is Saint Petersburg’s prime attraction, a massive palace-museum showing the highlights of a collection of more than 3,000,000 pieces spanning the globe. The Hermitage is truly one of the world’s great museums, with an imposing setting displaying priceless works by Rembrandt, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Rubens and more.
The Russian Museum is situated across Ploshad Isskustv from the Grand Europe Hotel (phone: 595 42 48) and offers an extensive collection of Russian paintings and sculpture. The main building, the Mikhailovskiy Palace houses the main exhibits, and the Russian Museum also oversees the permanent and temporary exhibits at the Stroganov Palace, Marble Palace and Mikhailovskiy Castle.
Entry at the Peter and Paul Fortress is free, but to enter the church and exhibitions you need tickets. Other than the church, this is where all of the Romanov Czars of Russia from Peter the Great are buried.
Alexander Nevskiy Monastery is located at the Eastern end of Nevskiy Prospekt next to the River Neva. The site also has the Tikhvin Cemetery which houses the tombs of some of the world’s most famous composers; Tschaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussorgsky and Borodin, and also the author Fyodor Dostoevsky, along with many other famous Russian figures.
Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, Canal Griboedova, 2a (Between Nevsky Prospekt and the Neva), phone: 812-315-16-36 is a traditional style Russian church built on the spot where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated in 1881. The interior is elaborately decorated with over 6000sqm of mosaics.
A great way of exploring St Petersburg is walking and talking with locals and trying local activities. Discover Walks St Petersburg, Sytninskaya Street, Saint Petersburg 197101, (spb@discoverwalks.com), allows you to meet actual Native of St Petersburg in addition to exploring major landmarks. Learn from an insider about local events and festivals, about where to shop, good places to eat or drink and secret places locals usually keep to themselves.
Traveling to Novosibirsk
novosibirsk-01Novosibirsk is located in the southwestern part of Siberia on the banks of the Ob River adjacent to the Ob River Valley. The city is informally known as the “Capital of Siberia”.
The Novosibirsk Zoo is a world-renowned scientific institution as well as a popular tourist attraction. The zoo has over four thousand animals and is an active participant of thirty-two different captive breeding programs for endangered species.
The Novosibirsk State Museum of Local History and Nature is dedicated to the history of Novosibirsk, the Novosibirsk Region and Siberia. The main building of the museum is located conveniently in Ploshid Lenina, right outside of the metro station. There are 2 other buildings associated with the museum with the Siberian Contemporary Art Center and the House of Cabmen within walking distance.
See the Lenin’s square with a grey-color monument of Lenin left from Soviet era standing right in front of the Opera and Ballet House which, by the way, is beautiful at night. It is also the largest opera house in Russia.
Sightseeing in Yekaterinburg
yekaterinburgYekaterinburg is located in the middle of the Eurasian continent, on the border of Europe and Asia. Yekaterinburg offers plenty of cross-country skiing, with trails stretching for miles. There are some downhill skiing resorts as well. It will take you approximately 25 minutes to get to the nearest of them from the center of the city.
Places to visit include:
• Church on the Blood: Church on the Blood built in 2003 at the site of the execution of Tsar Nicholas II and his family.
• Museum of Fine Arts: south of the Goroskoy Prud, on the west bank of the river. Some fine works by Russian 18th and 19th century artists and minor artists of the 16th to 18th Century European Schools.
• QWERTY Monument: located on the river bank near metro station. This is one of Russia’s weirdest attractions. Big white stones rise from the earth, and as you approach, you see engraved upon them, typical keys like “Q” and “SHIFT.”
• Circus: situated near the metro station Geologicheskaya. Richly ornamented building which hosts all sorts of circus shows.
• Shirokorechenskoye Kladbishche Cemetery: The infamous “Mafia cemetery” where there are dozens of graves with big life-size images in stone of former Mafia members.
Pay a visit to the English Havana Club. This is a fantastic place to meet other foreigners and local Russians who speak English.
Exploring Nizhniy Novgorod
nizhniy novgorodNizhny Novgorod is divided by the Oka River into two distinct parts. The Upper City is located on the hilly eastern bank of the Oka. It includes three of the eight city districts into which the city is administratively divided into Nizhegorodsky, Prioksky and Sovetsky. The Lower City occupies the low (western) side of the Oka, and consists of five districts: Kanavinsky, Moskovsky, Sormovsky, Avtozavodsky and Leninsky.
There are more than six hundred unique historic, architectural, and cultural monuments in the city. According to Wikipedia, Nizhny Novgorod has a great and extraordinary art gallery with an enormous collection of works by Russian artists such as Viktor Vasnetsov, Karl Briullov, Ivan Shishkin, Ivan Kramskoi, Ilya Yefimovich Repin, Isaak Iljitsch Lewitan, Vasily Surikov, Ivan Aivazovsky, there are also greater collections of works by Boris Kustodiev and Nicholas Roerich.
Other notable landmarks are the two great medieval abbeys. The Pechersky Ascension Monastery features the austere five-domed cathedral and two rare churches surmounted by tent roofs, dating from the 1640s. The Annunciation monastery, surrounded by strong walls, has another five-domed cathedral and the Assumption church. The only private house preserved from that epoch formerly belonged to the merchant Pushnikov.
Traveling to Samara

Samara

Samara

Samara is situated in the southeastern part of European Russia at the confluence of the Volga and Samara Rivers on the east bank of the Volga.
The Volga acts as the city’s western boundary; across the river are the Zhiguli Mountains, after which the local beer is named. The northern boundary is formed by the Sokolyi Hills and by the steppes in the south and east.
Samara’s river-front is one of the favorite recreation places for local citizens and tourists. Samara is home to an Opera and Ballet Theater, a philharmonic orchestra hall, and five drama theatres. There is a museum of natural history and local history studies, a city art museum, and a number of movie theatres.
Visiting Omsk
omsk

Omsk

Omsk stretches along the banks of the north-flowing Irtysh at its confluence with the smaller Om River. The historical part of town is lined with century-old buildings and has the best shopping and the nightlife in the city.
Omsk State Museum of history and Regional Studies is one of the oldest and the biggest museums in Siberia. The Historical museum is in the former West Siberian Governor’s mansion and Admiral Kolchak, the head of the White government, lived here in 1918-19, supported by the Western powers and the Russian gold reserves, placing Omsk in the heart of Russia’s history.
The Military Museum is a must with exhibits on WW II, Afghanistan as well as the Chetchen conflict. The museum aims to save historic and cultural heritage in its struggle for independence on different stages of historical development.
About Kazan
Kazan

Kazan

Kazan lies at the confluence of the Volga and Kazanka Rivers in European Russia. Central Kazan is divided into two districts by the Bolaq canal and Lake Qaban. The first district Qazan Bistäse or Kazanskiy Posad is situated on the hill and the second is situated between the Bolaq and the Volga. Mosques, such as Nurullah, Soltan, Bornay, Apanay, Äcem, Märcani, and Zäñgär are in the Tatar district. Churches, such as Blagoveschenskaya, Varvarinskaya, Nikol’skaya, Tikhvinskaya, are mostly in the Russian part of the city.
Another significant building in central Kazan is the former “Smolentzev and Shmelev” tea house and hotel, now the Shalyapin Palace Hotel. It is located at 7/80 Universitetskaya Street, at the corner of Universitetskaya and Bauman.
Kazan Kremlin was once a Tatar fortress, but it was largely destroyed by Ivan the Terrible. During the 16th and 17th Centuries, Russians reconstructed the Kremlin with new fortifications and Russian institutions. Entry to the Kremlin is through the white clock tower at the end of Bauman Street.
Tourist Attractions in Rostov-on-Don
Rostov On Don

Rostov On Don

Rostov-on-Don is a port city located on the Don River, 32 kilometers from the Sea of Azov. The most prominent architectural feature of the central part of the city is the Cathedral of Virgin’s Nativity
Tourist sites include the Municipal duma in central Rostov-on-Don, local bazaars and markets of fresh fish, bridges over the Don river, Don river lookout, Armenian Holy Cross Church, Rostovchanka statue, River Steamboat rides, Orthodox Cathedral of the Nativity of the Holy Virgin, Pushkinskaya street, Maxim Gorky park, traditional Cossack villages (stanitsas), State Sholokhov museum and reserve, Azov ancient fortress, Rostov circus, Rostov state opera and ballet theater and the Monastery of St. Jacob.
Museums in Rostov-on-Don include Rostov Regional Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Local Lore, Rostov Regional Museum of Fine Arts, and Museum of Fine Arts on Dmitrovskaya, Museum of Russian & Armenian Friendship and Pioneer and Railway Museum.
Chelyabinsk
Chelyabinsk

Chelyabinsk

Chelyabinsk is located in the northeast of the oblast, 210 kilometers south of Yekaterinburg, to the east of the Ural Mountains, on the Miass River, on the border of Europe and Asia.
The Kamerata chamber theater festival and an international organ music festival are held annually in Chelyabinsk. Chelyabinsk Oblast has three concert organizations and fifteen theaters. The theatres include an art gallery, a philharmonic and organ hall, a circus, several museums, nineteen movie theaters, a municipal jazz center, and a contemporary art center. Nine of these theaters are located in the capital.
Chelyabinsk is home to the State Puppet Theater (ul. Kirova, d.8, Chelyabinsk) and is an amazing attraction. Phone: (351) 790-29-94. The Children’s Philharmonic Hall, (Voroshilova ul. d. 6, Chelyabinsk 454138, phone: 351-7417417) is also worth a visit.
Other fascinating places to visit include the Aquarium Exhibit Hall, the Chelyabinsk Contemporary Dance Theater, Entourage Exhibit Hall, Chelyabinsk Regional Scientific Universal Library, Mannequin Theater and the Zimny Sad Gallery.
Entering Russia
The Government of the Russian Federation allows citizens or residents of specific countries/territories to enter Russia without having to obtain a visa, based on bilateral or multilateral agreements. Citizens of other countries must obtain a visa from a Russian embassy.

-By Alex Sherrod

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