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Russia

Main attractions

Rostov City
Rostov city / Kononova E., Wikimedia Commons.

The largest country in the world, Russia, is associated in the minds of many people with the onion domes of Orthodox churches and the massive walls of the Moscow Kremlin. But besides the unique architecture, Russia offers many more unusual and exciting attractions. Highlights of Russia are:

  • Orthodox churches - a kind of Russian architectural trademark with their onion-shaped domes. By far the best known is Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, but not less impressive are others, including the miracle of wood construction - Transfiguration Church in Kizhi.
  • Kremlins and historical cities - Moscow is not the only place where is Kremlin. These medieval fortifications are found in several more Russian cities and may include other interesting architecture monuments. Some Russian cities, such as Rostov or Kostroma, have preserved their historical architecture and their skyline has no analogues in the world.

Natural landmarks

Popigai crater
Popigai crater / NASA, public domain

Impact craters

  • Lake El'gygytgyn - Chukotka Autonomous Okrug. 12 km wide lake in 18 km wide impact crater, which formed fairly recently - 3.6 million years ago. In the lake live endemic species of fish.
  • Popigai crater - Krasnoyarsk Krai. One of the largest impact craters in the world, with a diameter of 100 km. This crater contains unique, very hard diamonds.
Atlasov Island
Atlasov Island / NOAA, public domain

Volcanoes

  • Atlasov Island - Sakhalin Oblast, Kuril islands. Beautiful volcano (Alaid), which rises from the sea 2,339 m tall and has a perfect cone shaped form.
  • Ebeko - Sakhalin Oblast, Kuril islands. 1,156 m tall volcano which contains green lake of acid.
  • Klyuchevskaya Sopka - Kamchatka Krai. 4,750 m high volcano with fine, conical form.
  • Kronotsky - Kamchatka Krai. 3,527 m tall volcano with symmetrical conical form.
  • Maly Semiachik - Kamchatka Krai. 1,560 m tall volcano with 500 metre wide, light green, acid lake.
  • Patomskiy Crater (Kolpakova Cone) - Irkutsk Oblast. Unusual crater - 40 m tall and 160 m wide mound/ring of limestone with a smaller mound inside. Most likely it was created by gaseous eruption some centuries ago.

Geothermal fields

  • Mutnovsky geyser valley - Kamchatka Krai. Another group of geysers. There are known some more geysers in Kamchatka and Kuril islands.
  • Valley of Geysers - Kamchatka Krai. Second largest concentration of geysers in the world, contains some 90 geysers and many other geothermal landmarks. Velikan Geyser erupted up to 40 m high.
Krasnoyarsk Stolbi
Krasnoyarsk Stolbi / / CC-BY-SA-2.0

Cliff formations

  • Krasnoyarsk Stolbi - Krasnoyarsk Krai. Columnar granite cliffs which rise up to 90 m tall.
  • Manpupuner cliffs - columns - Komi Republic. Seven spooky, up to 42 m tall hoodoos on the top of Ural mountains.

Caves

  • Berelech mammoth cemetery - Sakha (Yakutia) Republic, New Siberian Islands. Site which testifies that mammoths some 10,000 - 110,000 BC were living next to human settlements.
  • Botovskaya cave - Irkutsk Oblast. 60,8 km long cave. Skeleton of cave bear has been found inside.
  • Kungur Ice cave - Perm Krai. Beautiful show caves with spectacular ice formations. Length of caves is 5,700 m.

Waterfalls

  • Ilya Muromets waterfall - Sakhalin Oblast, Kuril islands, Iturup. 141 m tall waterfall which falls directly into the ocean.
  • Kinseluk Falls - Krasnoyarsk Krai, Eastern Sayan mountains. 328 m tall waterfall.
  • Talnikowy Falls - Krasnoyarsk Krai, Putoran mountains. Tallest waterfall in Russia, total height of cascades is 600 - 700 m. None of cascades though is very tall.
  • Uchar (The Big Chulchinsk Falls) - Altai Republic. Unusual waterfall, where the stream falls from 160 metre high stone aggregations which sealed the Chulcha river valley some 200 years ago.
  • Zeygalan - Republic of North Ossetia-Alania. Some 600 m high waterfall.

Ecosystems

  • Ary-Mas and Lukunsky grove - Krasnoyarsk Krai, Taymir Peninsula. Northernmost forests in the world, consist of low stands of Dahurian larch (Larix gmelinii (Rupr.) Rupr.). Lukunsky grove grows up to 72°31' latitude.
  • Samur River Delta - Republic of Dagestan. Relict stand of subtropical vegetation in othervise arid region. Contains remnants of broadleaved forest rich with lians.

Man made landmarks

The vast area of Russia is today home to some 160 ethnic groups with extremely diverse histories and cultural backgrounds, which often developed in comparative isolation. Due to this heritage Russia is rich with diverse, unique monuments of architecture and archaeology.

Por-Bazhyn fortress before the excavations, Tyva in Russia
Por-Bazhyn fortress before the excavations / Oschtan, / public domain

Ancient and prehistoric settlements

  • Narin-Kala fortress - Republic of Dagestan, Derbent. 40 km long Sassanid fortress from the 6th century.
  • Por-Bazhyn (Por-Bashyn) - Tyva Republic. Enormous quadrangular fortress, built by Uigurs on an island in Tere-Hol Lake, possibly in the 8th century AD.
  • Bolghar and Bilär - Republic of Tatarstan. Ruins of the former Volga Bulgaria.
  • Arkaim settlement - Chelyabinsk Oblast. Ancient, ring-shaped settlement of Sintashta-Petrovka culture, 17th century BC. Many Russians consider that this place has an aura of mystery.

Mounds - kurgans

On the Russian steppes there are numerous ancient burial hills - kurgans, which can be found from the Amur region in the east to the countries west of Russia. These hills were created by numerous diverse cultures over many thousands of years, from the 4th millenium BC up to the 10th century AD. In spite of looting, lots of valuable (scientifically and monetarily) artefacts can still be found in these burials.

  • Great Salbyk kurgan - Republic of Khakassia. Once 27 m high mound, with a diameter of 496 m, 3rd century BC.
  • Pazyryk kurgans - Altai Republic. Group of kurgans from the 5th century BC, created by Tagar culture. Numerous priceless artefacts have been found here.
  • Safronovskij kurgans - Republic of Khakassia. Group of pyramid-shaped kurgans, built by Tagar culture, circa 5th century BC. At the base of kurgans still are standing sculpted stones, up to 7 m tall.
Zhane River dolmen
Zhane River dolmen / Unwrecker, Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-SA-3.0

Megaliths and stone settings

Not many know that Russia is very rich with megaliths. More than 3000 dolmens are located in north-west Caucasus, there are dolmens and stone idols in other regions as well. Numerous interesting monuments are located along the White Sea and the Barents Sea.

  • Bolshoi Zayatsky Island stone labyrinths - Arkhangelsk Oblast. Group of 13 - 14 stone labyrinths as well as other stone settings. Build time and purpose of these labyrinths is unclear.
  • Charkov stone idols and Ulug Hurtujah Tas - Republic of Khakassia. Some of the most interesting South Siberian stone idols. In the valley of Minusink are found very diverse and amazing stone sculptures, sculpted and erected at the end of 3rd - early 2nd millenium BC.
  • Dolmens on Vera island - Chelyabinsk Oblast, Turgoyak Lake in the Southern Urals. Several dolmens which were erected circa 4000 BC.
  • Zhane River dolmens - Krasnodar Krai. The best known group of North-West Caucasian dolmens - interesting structures from large blocks of stone, with circular "entrance" holes.
Three extinct animals, painted by prehistoric people, Kapova Cave in Russia
Three extinct animals, painted by prehistoric people, Kapova Cave / José-Manuel Benito, , public domain

Petroglyphs and cliff paintings

Russia is very rich with petroglyphs, paintings and writings (for most part - undeciphered) left by diverse cultures.

  • Boiarskaja pisanica - Republic of Khakassia. Two groups of diverse petroglyphs, created by Tagar culture in 9th - 3rd century BC.
  • Ignateva Cave - Chelyabinsk Oblast. Cave with valuable, 6 - 8 thousand years old paintings, remains of prehistoric animals. Especially interesting is the painting of venus figure with 28 red dots between her legs - most likely a representation of female menstrual cycle.
  • Kalbakh-Tash - Altai Republic. Group of 4 - 10 thousand years old petroglyphs, site of legends.
  • Kanozero petroglyphs - Murmansk Oblast. More than 1000 petroglyphs which were created in 3rd - 2nd millenium BC.
  • Kapova Cave (Shulgan-Tash) - Republic of Bashkortostan. Cave with prehistoric paintings of mammoths, rhinos, horses. Paintings are some 14 - 15 thousand years old.
  • Pichiktig-Tag (Sulekskaya petroglyphs) - Thousands of rock paintings, made over the time period of several thousand years until the 18th century AD. Paintings are made in diverse techniques, there are also ancient Khakassian inscriptions. Paintings are located at the base of 600 m tall cliff.
Uglich, Russia
Uglich / Alexxx Malev, , CC BY-SA 2.0

Historical cities and towns

  • Gorokhovets - Vladimir Oblast. This historical city is first mentioned in 1239 and flourished in the 17th century. Numerous old and interesting buildings have been preserved including monasteries and city palaces.
  • Kostroma - Kostroma Oblast. Old city, founded in the 11th century and several times served as a retreat of Moscow authorities in a case of attack on Moscow. City has preserved or rebuilt numerous churches and monasteries, including the Epiphany Cathedral (1559 - 1565).
  • Suzdal - Vladimir Oblast. One of oldest Russian cities, first mentioned in 1024 AD. Here have been preserved many of the best examples of historical Russian architecture, including the Convent of Intercession (developed since 1264), Cathedral of the Nativity in Suzdal (rebuilt several times since 1102), Monastery of Saint Euthymius (founded in the 14th century AD) and other buildings.
  • Uglich - Yaroslavl Oblast. The city was founded in 937 AD and here has been partly preserved kremlin, several monasteries, the exquisite Assumption church (1628) and numerous other buildings.
  • Yaroslavl historic centre - Yaroslavl Oblast. This city was founded circa 1010 AD and for a while in the 17th century was even the second most important city in Russia. City has hundreds of valuable buildings, including such gem of Russian architecture as Spaso-Preobrazhensky Cathedral of the Spassky Monastery (1516).
St. Basil's Cathedral
St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow / d.wine, Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-SA-3.0

Churches and monasteries

A kind of Russian architectural trademark is the onion-shaped domes of Orthodox churches. Their architecture is influenced by Byzantine architecture, but has developed into a distinct and unique style.

  • Ascension Church in Kolomenskoye - Moscow. Amazing structure in the former rural estate of tsar. This white church was built in 1532 to commemorate the birth of Ivan the Terrible and its architecture marks the break of Russian church builders from the Byzantine tradition.
  • Arkhyz St.George Northern Church and other Zelenchuk churches - Republic of Karachay–Cherkessia. The oldest constinuously used stone buildings in Russia, these churches most likely were built in the medieval Alania - early Caucasian state of Christians, which was conquered by Mongols in the 13th century AD. Northern Church was built between the 10th and 13th centuries.
  • Hodegetria church in Vyazma - Smolensk Oblast. One of the remaining three-tented churches in the world, built in 1638.
  • Kizhi Pogost with Transfiguration Church - Republic of Karelia. Group of exceptional wooden buildings, located inside a fence on island. Group consists of bell tower, the Intercession Church with 9 onion domes and the exceptional Transfiguration Church with 22 onion domes (1714).
  • Saint Basil's Cathedral - Moscow. A group of nine churches built in 1555 - 1561 to commemorate the victories of Ivan the Terrible. This building has left much influence on Russian and world architecture.
  • Saint Sophia Cathedral in Novgorod - Novgorod Oblast. The oldest Russian built cathedral, built between 1044 and 1052. Cathedral contains numerous valuable works of medieval art.
  • Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius with Holy Trinity Cathedral - Moscow Oblast, Sergiyev Posad. Most important monastery in Russia, founded in 1345. Holy Trinity Cathedral was built in 1422 - 1423 and is the oldest stone church in this monastery.
Moscow Kremlin Wall, Russia
Moscow Kremlin Wall / NVO, , CC BY-SA 3.0

Kremlins

Old Russian cities had impressive fortifications traditionally called kremlins. Some of the oldest and/or most impressive ones are the following:

  • Kazan Kremlin - Republic of Tatarstan. These 1,800 m long fortifications were built on the orders of Ivan the Terrible on the ruins of Kazan khan castle. Oldest building is Annunciation Cathedral (1554 - 1562), other landmarks are the leaning Söyembikä Tower, most likely built before Russians by Tatars and Spasskaya Tower.
  • Kolomna Kremlin - Moscow Oblast. Current fortifications were built in 1525-1531. Now just two sections of walls and 7 towers survive. Walls were 1,940 m long and include Uspensky cathedral and other valuable structures.
  • Moscow Kremlin - Moscow. Enormous complex of fortifications in the centre of Moscow, stone fortress was started in 1367. Walls include five palaces, four cathedrals and are 2,235 m long. Height of walls is from 5 to 19 m, thickness up to 6,5 m. 20 towers have survived up to this day, the best known is Spasskaya Tower - one of symbols of Russia.
  • Nizhegorodskii Kremlin - Nizhny Novgorod Oblast. One of the strongest Russian fortresses, built in 1508 - 1515. Walls were 2,080 m long, all 13 towers have been preserved.
  • Novgorod Kremlin - Novgorod Oblast. Construction of walls started in 1302, main fortress was built in 1484 - 1490. Length of walls is 1,487 m. Includes Chamber of Facets (1433), oldest palace in Russia.
  • Pskov Krom - Pskov Oblast. Fortifications of medieval Pskov, some 900 m long walls, which were built in the late 11th - early 12th century. This medieval citadel was a heart of Pskov Republic in the 14th - early 16th century and preserves numerous valuable buildings.
  • Smolensk Kremlin - Smolensk Oblast. Giant fortification, originally with 6.5 km long walls, built in 1595-1602. 17 towers have been preserved up to this day, 22 are lost.
  • Tobolsk Kremlin - Tyumen Oblast. The only kremlin in Siberia, built in 1683-1799.
  • Tula Kremlin - Tula Oblast. 1,066 m long fortification with 9 towers, built in 1514-1520, most likely by Italian masters. This kremlin is well preserved and includes several valuable buildings, such as Uspensky Cathedral (1762 - 1766).
Winter Palace, Russia
Winter Palace in St Petersburg / Dezidor, Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-3.0

Palaces

There are multiple beautiful palaces in Russia, most of them are little known outside the country. Palace architecture though flourished in Russia in the 18th - 19th centuries, when magnificent palaces of St.Petersburg and its suburbs were built.

  • Alexander Palace - Saint Petersburg. Designed in Neo-Classical style by Giacomo Quarenghi, one of the best achievements of this style. Built in 1792 - 1796.
  • Catherine Palace and park - Saint Petersburg. Magnificent palace designed by Bartolomeo Rastrelli in Rococo style and built in 1717-1756. Facade of palace is 325 m long. One of legendary interiors of the palace was Amber Room which was pillaged by Germans during the World War II and has not been found since.
  • Peterhof Palace and park - Saint Petersburg. One of the world's most spectacular palace and garden complexes. Palace was sesigned by Bartolomeo Rastrelli in Baroque style and built in 1714-1755. Spectacular are the numerous fountains with guilded sculptures which are powered by groundwater pressure. This is so called "travel palace", where high society travellers could rest after their trip and before the entering into Moscow.
  • Petrovsky Palace - Moscow. Unusual and splendid palace, built in Neo-Gothic style in 1776 - 1780ies.
  • Winter Palace - Saint Petersburg. Official residence of Russian monarchs, designed by Bartolomeo Rastrelli in Rococo style and built in 1732-1837. Reportedly contains 1,500 rooms, many of rooms are very ornate. Now contains the Hermitage Museum - one of richest and largest art museums in the world, with numerous artworks of world importance.

Modern architecture

Several Russian architects has influence on the development of modern architecture. Interesting is both the ultra-modern (for its time) Russian Constructivism and retreat from the modernism into so called "Stalin Barocco" style.

  • House of Melnikov - Moscow. Possibly the most outstanding example of Russian Constructivism: unusual and innovative apartment house which was built in 1927-1929.
  • Moscov State University building - Moscow. The best representative of a very special style of highrise buildings. 240 m high, built in 1953.
  • Shukhov radio tower - Moscow. 160 m tall radio tower, built in 1920 - 1922. Tower is very stable thanks to innovative structural engineering - it is hyperboloid structure.

List of described attractions by federal subjects

Russia currently is divided in 83 federal subjects:

Asian part

Altai Krai
ArrowDenisova CaveFossil finds, Ancient human finds, Caves
Altai Republic
Amur Oblast
Buryat Republic
Chelyabinsk Oblast
Chukotka Autonomous Okrug
Irkutsk Oblast
Jewish Autonomous Oblast
Kamchatka Krai
Kemerovo Oblast
Khabarovsk Krai
Khantia-Mansia
Krasnoyarsk Krai
ArrowAry-MasEcosystem
ArrowLukunsky groveEcosystem
Kurgan Oblast
Magadan Oblast
Novosibirsk Oblast
Omsk Oblast
Primorsky Krai
Republic of Khakassia
Sakha (Yakutia) Republic
ArrowMacha crater fieldImpact craters
Sakhalin Oblast
Tomsk Oblast
Tyumen Oblast
Tyva Republic
Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug
Zabaykalsky Krai

European part

Arkhangelsk Oblast
ArrowStone labyrinths of Bolshoi Zayatsky islandMegalith
Astrakhan Oblast
Belgorod Oblast
Bryansk Oblast
Chechen Republic
Chuvashia
Ivanovo Oblast
Kabardino-Balkar Republic
Kaliningrad Oblast
Kaluga Oblast
Karachay-Cherkess Republic
Kirov Oblast
Komi Republic
Kostroma Oblast
Krasnodar Krai
Kursk Oblast
Leningrad Oblast
Lipetsk Oblast
Mari El Republic
Moscow
ArrowSaint Basil’s Cathedral, MoscowChurches
Moscow Oblast
Murmansk Oblast
Nenets Autonomous Okrug
Nizhny Novgorod Oblast
Novgorod Oblast
Orenburg Oblast
Oryol Oblast
Penza Oblast
Perm Krai
Pskov Oblast
Republic of Adygea
Republic of Bashkortostan
Republic of Dagestan
Republic of Ingushetia
Republic of Kalmykia
Republic of Karelia
Republic of Mordovia
Republic of North Ossetia-Alania
Republic of Tatarstan
Rostov Oblast
Ryazan Oblast
Saint Petersburg
Samara Oblast
Saratov Oblast
Smolensk Oblast
Stavropol Krai
Sverdlovsk Oblast
Tambov Oblast
Tula Oblast
Tver Oblast
Udmurt Republic
Ulyanovsk Oblast
Vladimir Oblast
Volgograd Oblast
Vologda Oblast
Voronezh Oblast
Yaroslavl Oblast

Map of Russia