Who better to relate a plethora of Russian attractions than a knowledgeable local? This week I present an extensive insight into a wide range of locations worth exploring when visiting Russia. I have adapted the text from a Russian-to-English translation, originally written by a colleague as part of a larger work. Although the author prefers to remain nameless, you can find the original (translated) work and a lot more on Live Journal.
Known and Unknown
“You undoubtedly know of such world-renowned places as Saint-Petersburg, Moscow, Lake Baikal, Vladivostok and Kamchatka. You may have heard of such places as the Altai mountains, Krasnoyarskie Stolby (a national park near the city of Krasnoyarsk), Teletskoye lake, Karelia and the Kuril Islands. These locations are often visited by foreign tourists. For your consideration we should also include the arctic shore and even the North pole (yes, organised excursions to these extreme northern territories are available, though not through Russia Experience!).”
I’ll interject here to say that the original text included the Crimean Peninsula in the above list, however as I present this in June 2018, the UK government strongly advises against all travel to Crimea. Bearing that in mind, let’s continue:-
“If you prefer visiting beautiful ancient towns, with splendid architecture and many ancient churches, you will surely be interested in travelling around Russia’s “Golden Ring (Золотое кольцо России).” Consisting of some of the most beautiful ancient towns north-east of the Moscow region. Suzdal, Yaroslavl, Nizhniy Novgorod, and others lie further out but you can start your exploration by visiting ancient locations closer to Moscow, with equally striking and well-preserved architecture. For example, Tver, Kolomna, Sergiev Posad, and Vladimir are worthy of consideration.
In Moscow region and neighbouring territories, there are many estates that once belonged to ancient noblemen as well as memorial houses of famous Russian writers and poets. For example, close to Moscow are the restored estates of Arkhangelskoe and Kolomenskoe, where many open-air events take place. In Melikhovo there is the memorial estate of Chekhov and in the town of Klin (also not far from Moscow) is Tchaikovsky’s memorial house. In the Tula region lies “Yasnaya Polyana”; the estate of renowned author Leo Tolstoy, surely a must-see for any serious student of Russian literature.
Don’t forget about Russia’s world-renowned art galleries such as the Hermitage in Saint-Petersburg or Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery and the Pushkin museum of fine arts. The masterpieces on display within their halls trace the nation’s development and will never leave you indifferent to Russian history and culture. Also within lie exquisite examples from various cultures across the world.
Moscow’s metro is recognised as the most beautiful in the world, and a cultural museum in its own right, besides being a very comfortable, and reliable form of public transport. To enjoy it at its most relaxed however, you should choose to travel during weekend mornings. During working hours (and especially at rush hour) it can be extremely busy. If you notice a large letter “M” whilst strolling the streets of Moscow or another Russian metropolis, don’t presume that you have discovered a McDonald’s, here this symbol usually marks the entrance to a nearby station.
There you will able to buy single-trip and the (more useful) multi-trip cards for the metro and other forms of public transport.
The shining jewel
If you choose Saint-Petersburg as your destination, you will never lose. Renowned globally as Russia’s national gem; it’s the second city and the enduring former capital. With it’s classical architecture and picturesque canal system, Petersburg is often called the Venice of the north as well as Russia’s cultural capital. Of particular note are such locations as St. Isaac’s Cathedral, the Peter and Paul Fortress, the Admiralty building and the Winter Palace. There are also the splendid palace-and-park ensembles of Tsarskoe Selo, Peterhof and Gatchina.”
I’ll interject again to say that these locations often need dedication and effort from the visitor in order to get the most out of them; they are often both vast and rich in content. For instance Adventurous Miriam reports that :-
“…Peterhof Palace is a must for anyone visiting Saint Petersburg. But you should set a whole day off since it will take you at least 2 hours in transportation and 3+ hours to explore the Peterhof estate and gardens”. Now back to our primary text:-
Centres of faith
“Those interested in Orthodox tradition should visit the faith’s spiritual centers: Sergiev Posad and the magnificent Holy Trinity-Sergius Lavra (a vast ancient monastery). Diveevo (close to Nizhny Novgorod), hosts a whole ensemble of monasteries and temples founded by
St. Seraphim of Sarov, -both Sergius of Radonezh and Seraphim of Sarov are the most honorable of Russian saints, incidentally. As a whole; Russian Orthodox tradition and culture are very extensive and deeply rooted within the lives and history of the population; resulting in the construction of many places of worship which are still worth visiting. On the internet, you can find maps to their locations as well as information and photographs of the most ancient and striking churches and monasteries of the Moscow region and other locales.