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Russian Destination Guide

Astrakhan

Astrakhan is an old southern Russian city situated in the delta of the Volga River. Astrakhan has a rich history; before being conquered by Ivan the Terrible in the 16th century and thereby becoming part of the Russian Empire, Astrakhan was the capital of Khazaria (the famed Jewish Empire of the 8th and 9th centuries) and was a stronghold of the Golden Horde. In the 17th century Astrakhan was developed as Russia’s Gate to the Orient, and both Peter and Catherine the Great really promoted the industrial potential of the city. Astrakhan became a truly international city with its population...

Cheboksary

Known as the “pearl on the Volga”, Cheboksary is the capital of the Chuvash Republic, home to the Finno-Ugric Chuvash people. The city is located on the banks of the Volga River and has some beautiful board walks and beaches along the river. Cheboksary also has a man-made bay, which is an extremely popular place for the locals and a must-see when visiting. The city possesses excellent cultural opportunities. There is an Opera-Ballet Theatre, a Philharmonic Orchestra, and numerous other theatres (showing productions in both Russian and Chuvash languages) along with several museums, most importantly the only Russian Beer Museum....

Goritsy

Goritsy is a tiny settlement 7 kilometres from the St. Cyril on the White Lake Monastery. The Monastery was founded in 1397 by Kirill Belosersky on the shore of Lake Siverskoye. The monastery had wide trade in the 15th to 17th centuries and was used as a fortress to protect Russia’s nobility during the Times of Troubles. During the Soviet period the monastery was turned into a labour camp, but in recent years it has returned to its original use. The remains of the Nunnery of the Resurrection that sits on the banks of the Sheksna River is within a...

Irkutsk

Irkutsk is one of the largest cities in Siberia and is located on the Angara River. It is the starting point for many who adventure to the Lake Baikal area because it is a main transit point on the Trans-Siberian/Trans-Mongolian train route. Lake Baikal is situated just an hour away from Irkutsk by train. Founded by Russians in 1652 as a major fort beyond the Ural Mountains, it was populated by exiled political prisoners sent by the tsars and communists. Due to the number of exiled intellectuals the city’s culture developed richly. Irkutsk is definitely a place where the old...

Kazan

Kazan is the capital city of the Republic of Tatarstan, Russia, and one of Russia’s largest cities. It has an extremely rich history being founded in 1005 as the capital of the Tatars. It was conquered by Ivan the Terrible in 1552 when he began a process of Russification of the city. Almost the entire population was massacred during the siege and in the period after. In extremely recent years, the city has been completely reformed to celebrate its 1000 year anniversary. It is a major industrial, commercial and cultural centre, and remains the most important centre of Tatar culture....

Khabarovsk

Khabarovsk is the industrial, transport, administrative and cultural centre of the Khabarovsk region. The city was founded in 1858 as a military outpost. It is located 8532km east of Moscow and 30km from the Chinese border. After passing through the isolated Siberian towns on the Trans-Siberian railway, tourists often find Khabarovsk an unexpected surprise with its numerous green parks, riverside paths and historic downtown area. If you do get to spend a day in Khabarovsk then a definite must is to visit the Far East Regional Museum, which is extremely well laid out and gives detailed historical examples. Also worth...

Kizhi Island

The tiny island of Kizhi is located at the northern end of Lake Onega. It is possible to visit the island en route from St. Petersburg to Moscow on a river cruise. The island is renowned for its open-air Museum of Architecture, which is assembled from over 80 monuments of wooden architecture from various areas of the country and restored to form a glimpse of the past. There are artisans who demonstrate traditional crafts from the 18th-19th century; weaving, woodcarving and painting. The most impressive site on the island is the Church of the Transfiguration or Preobrazhenskaya (the church of...

Kostroma

Kostroma is located at the confluence of the Volga and Kostroma Rivers and is one of the towns in the Golden Ring. It was founded in the 12th century and has played a major role in Russian history. After being destroyed by the Mongols in 1238 it became a small principality under the leadership of Prince Vasily the Drunkard the brother of the Russian hero Alexander Nevsky. In the early 17th century, the young Mikhail Romanov, who was living at the time at the Ipatievsky Monastery, was offered the Russian throne – thus beginning the Romanov Dynasty and ending the...

Krasnoyarsk

Krasnoyarsk is located on the Yenisei River and is the 3rd largest city in Siberia. It was founded in 1628 as a Russian border fort to protect the frontier from attacks of native people who lived along the Yenisei. An intensive growth of Krasnoyarsk began with the arrival of the Siberian Road (nowadays the M53) in 1735 which connected Krasnoyarsk with the rest of Russia. Growth continued with the discovery of gold and the arrival of the railroad in 1895. In the 19th century Krasnoyarsk was the centre of the Siberian Cossack movement. During the time of the Russian Empire,...

Lake Baikal

Lake Baikal is the largest freshwater lake in the world with an average depth of 744.4 m and contains roughly 20 percent of the world’s surface fresh water. The body of water is also known as the “Baikal Sea” and the "Pearl of Siberia" as it curves for nearly 400miles through South Eastern Siberia. Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world, clearest lake in the world and oldest lake in the world, at more than 25million years old. Baikal is home to more than 1,700 species of plants and animals, two thirds of which can be found nowhere...

Mandrogi

Mandrogi is really more of a living museum than a live-in village. Located on the north shore of Lake Ladoga, many cruise ships passing from St. Petersburg – Moscow will stop off here for a few hours. The village features a collection of old wooden houses and is geared towards showing visitors what a traditional Russian village resembled in the past. One of the features here is the Vodka Museum, which contains 2800 different brands and types of Russia’s favourite drink! There are demonstrations of wood carving, lacework, and pottery, which can all also be bought. There is also a...

Nizhny Novgorod

Nizhny Novgorod is one of Russia’s major cities. The dominating feature of the city skyline is the grand Kremlin (1500-1511), with its red-brick towers. After Bolshevik devastation, the only ancient building left within the Kremlin walls is the tent-like Archangel Cathedral (1624-31), first built in stone in the 13th century. The city has a truly fascinating history that you will learn more about during your tour. The city was founded in the 13th century and became one of the Russian Empire’s most important outposts by the 16th century. In the 19th century it became the capital of trade for the...

Novgorod

Novgorod the Great, referred to simply as Novgorod, was the first official capital of Russia and is one of Russia’s most interesting towns containing some of Russia’s greatest jewels of architecture and steeped in history. Although the name of the city translates as ‘New Town’ it is one of the oldest settlements in Russia. The Kremlin of Novgorod is the oldest in Russia dating back to 864. The Cathedral of St. Sophia dominates the structure of the Kremlin. It was built between 1045 and 1050 under the patronage of Vladimir Yaroslavich, the son of Yaroslav the Wise. It is the...

Novosibirsk

Novosibirsk is the third largest city in Russia after Moscow and St. Petersburg and the largest Siberian city, often referred to as the capital of Siberia. The city is young in comparison with other Russian cities as it was only founded in 1893, at the future site of a Trans-Siberian Railway bridge crossing the great Ob River. During Stalin’s industrialization of Russia, the city experienced rapid growth and became one of the major seats of industry in the Soviet Union. In the 1950s, the scientific research complex of Akademgorodok was constructed about 30 km south of the city centre. The...

Pereslavl-Zalessky

Pereslavl-Zalessky was founded in 1152 by Prince Yuri Dolgoruky and is one of the towns in the Golden Ring, North East of Moscow. In 1175–1302, the town was the centre of the Principality of Pereslavl and in 1302, the town became a part of the Grand Duchy of Moscow. Pereslavl-Zalessky was devastated numerous times by the Mongols between the mid-13th century and the early 15th century and was also invaded by the Poles in 1611. Its charm is its location on the bank of the Lake Pleshcheyevo and its provincial feel. There are 5 monasteries and 9 museums in the...

Rostov

Rostov, sometimes referred to as Veliky Rostov, is one of the oldest settlements in Russia and is one of the towns of the Golden Ring. The town was first mentioned in 862 and was already quite important by the 13th century, as it became the capital city of one of the most prominent Russian principalities. However after the invasion of the Tatars in the 13th century the city’s economic and political stability collapsed and in 1474 it was incorporated into Muscovy. Rostov has always been an extremely important ecclesiastic centre for the Orthodox Church. Its main two sites are the...

Samara

Samara is located on the east bank of the Volga River and was officially ‘born’ in 1586 when a fortress was built on the site due to its great vantage point along the river. Legend has it that Alexius, Metropolitan of Moscow and later Patron Saint of Samara visited the site of the city in 1357 and predicted that a great town would be erected there and that the town would never be ravaged. It became a popular port and developed into an important trade route with the East. Probably due its economic and industrial stability Stalin chose Samara as...

Saratov

Saratov is a major city in southern Russia. The city was initially founded in the 16th century as a fortress to protect the southern districts of the Russian Empire. Situated on the Volga River, Saratov was a major military aircraft manufacturing site, the home of the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, and a vital part of the Soviet space program. There is a museum dedicated to Gagarin and his life. Saratov has a rich cultural life, as well - among the most famous sites is the Conservatoire designed in a Neo-Gothic style as well as the Drama Theatre named...

Sergiev Posad

As one of the cities in the Golden Ring, Sergiev Posad is considered by some to be the Russian Vatican, and is the temporary residence of the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Sergiev Posad is home to the Trinity St. Sergius Monastery (Lavra), built in the first half of the 1340s by the son of Rostov Boyar, Sergius of Radonezh, who remains one the most venerated saints in Russia. The monastery includes more than fifty edifices constructed by Moscow, Pskov and Yaroslavl artisans. Some of the few monuments that you’ll see are the Cathedral of the Assumption, which is modelled...

Sochi

Sochi is the Russian Riviera. Sand and pebble beaches stretch nearly 20 miles along the Black Sea coast. Here are the northernmost subtropics in the world. You can swim in the sea from April through October, and ski on the nearby slopes from October into May. Sochi is almost all mountains, forest, and beach. More than 80% of the territory is part of a national park or the Caucasian State Biosphere Reserve. Historical and architectural monuments, unique flora and fauna, magnificent panoramas, mysterious canyons and caves, noisy waterfalls are all found in Sochi’s parks.

Suzdal

Suzdal is often called the “jewel” of the Golden Ring cities and if you are going to visit some of the cities then Suzdal should definitely be on your list. The town dates back to 1024. In its early history it was the capital of several principalities and later on became an important religious centre. The town is full of churches and at one point in its history had 40 churches for approximately 400 families. Nowadays there are hundreds of architectural sites to visit including more than 35 churches, 5 monasteries and several museums. The town only has a population...

Uglich

Founded in 1148 as a small princedom bordering on Muscovy, Uglich is one of the most beloved towns in Old Russia. The view of the town as you approach it from the Volga River is breath-taking with the Cathedral of the Resurrection and St. John’s Church rising up on the horizon. The beautiful charm of the town and its history really sets Uglich apart from other Russian towns and cities and makes it a favourite place for Muscovites to come to at the weekends.

The history of the town is fascinating; at the end of the 16th century, Maria Nagaya, seventh...

Ulan-Ude

Ulan-Ude is the capital city of the Buryat Republic of Russia and is located about 100 km (66 miles) south-east of Lake Baikal in Eastern Siberia. One of the main attractions of Ulan-Ude is the mix between the east and west. The city was initially founded in 1666 by Russian Cossacks as a fortress. Due to its favourable geographical position, the city grew rapidly and became a large trade centre which connected Russia with China and Mongolia. The Trans-Siberian Railway reached the city in 1900 causing an explosion in the growth of the city; the population which was 3,500 in...

Vladimir

Vladimir is the first town of the Golden Ring, 179 kilometres to the east of Moscow. There is a big debate as to when the city was founded, 990 or 1108, however the outcome for the city was the same; in the 12th century it became highly prosperous and was even the capital of Russia for some time. Today, Vladimir is a major administrative, industrial and cultural centre with a population of about 370,000 residents. Although the city has been fairly developed, the medieval Vladimir is what draws in all the tourists throughout the year.

Please see the tab below with...

Vladivostok

Vladivostok which means the Lord of the East is Russia’s largest port city on the Pacific Ocean situated at the head of the Golden Horn Bay and near the border of China and North Korea. The city has recently been renovated and updated, and pedestrianized streets and the harbour promenade are really beautiful spaces. The city is famously home to the Russian Pacific Fleet. Because of this, the city was closed to any foreigners and even Soviets had to be granted permission to enter the city during the time of the Soviet Union.

The territory on which modern Vladivostok is located...

Volgograd

Volgograd is an important industrial city located on the banks of the River Volga. The city was founded as the fortress of Tsaritsyn in 1589 to defend the southern flank of the Russian Empire and played a major role in the Russian Civil War and the development of the Soviet Union. From 1925-1961 the city was known as Stalingrad, and became famous due to the renowned battle of WWII- the ‘Battle of Stalingrad’. The battle is seen by most scholars as the pivotal battle of WWII, in which the tide was turned against Hitler’s fascist invaders. Over 2 million Soviet...

Yaroslavl

Stretching for 18 miles on both banks of the Volga, Yaroslavl is an important Volga port and one of the towns in the Golden Ring. It was founded in the 1010 by Prince Yaroslav the Wise. Yaroslavl was destroyed by the Tatars in the 13th and 14th centuries but then was restored and rebuilt. By the 17th century it had become Russia’s second largest city after Moscow and an important cultural and political centre.

Today, Yaroslavl retains many noteworthy monuments of its colourful past. Of special interest is the magnificent 13th century Spassky (Saviour) Monastery ensemble, a group of majestic 17th...

Yekaterinburg

Founded in 1723, Ekaterinburg is the 4th largest city in Russia. It is probably most famous for the assassinations of the last tsar of Russia, Nicholas II and his family on 17th July 1918. The Ipatiev House, where they were murdered was destroyed in the 1970s and in its place now stands the Church on Blood, a beautiful church which is dedicated to the Romanov family.

Before the dreadful events of 1918, Ekaterinburg was famed for being a busy industrial city, located on the border between Europe and Asia. It became even more significant when it became a main station on...

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