Top Ten Russian Attractions

Top Ten Russian Attractions

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       Russia is a federal semi-presidential republic country in northern Eurasia comprising 83 federal subjects. Russia shares borders with Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland (both via Kaliningrad Oblast), Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia and North Korea. It also has maritime borders with Japan by the Sea of Okhotsk, and the US by the Bering Strait. At 17,075,400 square km (6,592,800 square mi), Russia is the largest country in the world, covering more than one eighth of the Earth’s inhabited land area. Russia is also the 8th most populous nation with 143 million people. It extends across the whole of northern Asia and 40% of Europe, spanning nine time zones and incorporating a wide range of environments and landforms. Russia has the world’s largest reserves of mineral and energy resources and is the number one natural gas producer as well as number one oil producer globally. Russia has the world’s largest forest reserves and its lakes contain approximately one-quarter of the world’s fresh water. The nation’s history began with that of the East Slavs, who emerged as a recognizable group in Europe between the 3rd and 8th centuries AD. Founded and ruled by a Varangian warrior elite and their descendants, the medieval state of Rus arose in the 9th century. In 988 it adopted Orthodox Christianity from the Byzantine Empire, beginning the synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures that defined Russian culture for the next millennium. Rus’ ultimately disintegrated into a number of smaller states; most of the Rus’ lands were overrun by the Mongol invasion and became tributaries of the nomadic Golden Horde. The Grand Duchy of Moscow gradually reunified the surrounding Russian principalities, achieved independence from the Golden Horde, and came to dominate the cultural and political legacy of Kievan Rus’. By the 18th century, the nation had greatly expanded through conquest, annexation, and exploration to become the Russian Empire, which was the 3rd largest empire in history, stretching from Poland in Europe to Alaska in North America. Following the Russian Revolution, Russia became the largest and leading constituent of the Soviet Union, the world’s first constitutionally socialist state and a recognized superpower, which played a decisive role in the Allied victory in WWII. The Soviet era saw some of the most significant technological achievements of the 20th century, including the world’s first human spaceflight. The Russian Federation was founded following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, but is recognized as the continuing legal personality of the Soviet state. Russia has the world’s 11th largest economy by nominal GDP or the 6th largest by purchasing power parity, with the 5th largest nominal military budget. It is one of the five recognized nuclear weapons states and possesses the largest stockpile. Russia is powerful and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, a member of the G8, G20, the Council of Europe, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Eurasian Economic Community, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and is the leading member of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

  1. Moscow
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    Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational and transportation center of Russia and the continent. Moscow is the northernmost megacity on Earth (but isn’t coldest), the most populous city in Europe, and the 6th largest city proper in the world. Its population, according to the results of the 2010 Census, is 11,503,501. Based on Forbes 2011, Moscow had 79 billionaires, displacing New York City as the city with the greatest number of billionaires. Moscow is situated on the Moskva River in the Central Federal District of European Russia. In the course of its history the city has served as the capital of a progression of states, from the medieval Grand Duchy of Moscow and the subsequent Tsardom of Russia to the Soviet Union. Moscow is the site of the Moscow Kremlin, an ancient fortress that is today the residence of the Russian President and of the executive branch of the Government of Russia. The Kremlin is also one of several World Heritage Sites in the city. Both chambers of the Russian parliament (the State Duma and the Federation Council) also sit in Moscow. The city is served by an extensive transit network, which includes four international airports, nine railroad terminals, and one of the deepest underground tubes in the world, the Moscow Metro, second only to Tokyo in terms of ridership and recognised as one of the city’s landmarks due to the rich and varied architecture of its 185 stations. Over time, Moscow has acquired a number of epithets, most referring to its size and preeminent status within the nation: The Third Rome, The Whitestone One, The First Throne, The Forty Forties. In old Russian the word “Сорок” (forty) also meant a church administrative district, which consisted of about forty churches.The demonym for a Moscow resident is Moskvitch, rendered in English as Muscovite.
    Links: Cities, Top Ten Cathedrals, Top Ten Squares, Top Ten Triumphal Arches,  Top Ten Firework Shows, Top Ten Pictures of Fireworks, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moscow,
  2. St. Petersburg
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    Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject (a federal city) of Russia 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 to Petrograd, in 1924 to Leningrad and in 1991 back to Saint Petersburg. In Russian literature and informal documents the “Saint” is usually omitted, leaving Petersburg. In common parlance Russians may drop “-burg” as well, leaving only Peter. Saint Petersburg was founded by Tsar Peter the Great on May 27, 1703. From 1713 to 1728 and from 1732 to 1918, Saint Petersburg was the Imperial capital of Russia. In 1918 the central government bodies moved from Saint Petersburg (then named Petrograd) to Moscow. It is Russia’s 2nd largest city after Moscow with almost 4.9 million inhabitants. Saint Petersburg is a major European cultural center and an important Russian port on the Baltic Sea. Saint Petersburg is often described as the most Western city of Russia. Among cities of the world with over one million people, Saint Petersburg is the northernmost. Saint Petersburg is also home to The Hermitage, the largest art museum in the world. A large number of foreign consulates, international corporations, banks and other businesses are located in Saint Petersburg.
    Links: Cities, Museums and Galleries, Top Ten Russian Museums, Sculptures, Top Ten Cathedrals, Churches, Top Ten Firework Shows, Top Ten Pictures of Fireworks, Top Ten Bridges, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._petersburg,
  3. Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia

           The State Hermitage is a museum of art and culture in Saint Petersburg, Russia. One of the largest and oldest museums of the world, it was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great and open to the public since 1852. Its collections, of which only a small part is on permanent display, comprise nearly 3 million items, including the largest collection of paintings in the world. The collections occupy a large complex of six historic buildings along Palace Embankment, including the Winter Palace, a former residence of Russian emperors. Apart from them, the Menshikov Palace, Museum of Porcelain, Storage Facility at Staraya Derevnya and the eastern wing of the General Staff Building also make part of the museum. The museum has several exhibition centers abroad. The Hermitage is a federal state property. Since 1990, the director of the museum has been Mikhail Piotrovsky. Out of six buildings of the main museum complex, four, namely the Winter Palace, Small Hermitage, Old Hermitage and New Hermitage, are partially open to the public. The other two are Hermitage Theatre and the Reserve House. The entrance ticket for foreign tourists costs several times as much as the fee paid by Russian citizens. However, the entrance is free of charge the first Thursday of every month for all visitors and daily for students and children. The museum is closed on Mondays. Entrance is in the Winter Palace from Palace Embankment or the Courtyard.
    Links: Museums and Galleries, Top Ten European Museums, Top Ten Russian MuseumsTop 100 Russian PaintingsTop Ten Russian Paintershttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermitage_Museum,
  4. Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow
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    The Cathedral of the Protection of Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat, popularly known in English as Saint Basil’s Cathedral, is a Russian Orthodox church erected on the Red Square in Moscow in 1555–61. Built on the order of Ivan the Terrible to commemorate the capture of Kazan and Astrakhan, it marks the geometric center of the city and the hub of its growth since the 14th century. It was the tallest building in Moscow until the completion of the Ivan the Great Bell Tower in 1600. The original building, known as “Trinity Church” and later “Trinity Cathedral,” contained eight side churches arranged around the 9th, central church of Intercession; the 10th church was erected in 1588 over the grave of venerated local saint Vasily (Basil). In the 16th and 17th centuries the church, perceived as the earthly symbol of the Heavenly City, as happens to all churches in Byzantine Christianity, was popularly known as the “Jerusalem” and served as an allegory of the Jerusalem Temple in the annual Palm Sunday parade attended by the Patriarch of Moscow and the tsar. The building’s design, shaped as a flame of a bonfire rising into the sky, has no analogues in Russian architecture: “It is like no other Russian building. Nothing similar can be found in the entire millennium of Byzantine tradition from the 5th to 15th century…a strangeness that astonishes by its unexpectedness, complexity and dazzling interleaving of the manifold details of its design.” The cathedral foreshadowed the climax of Russian national architecture in the 17th century. A victim of state atheism, the church was confiscated from the Russian Orthodox community as part of the Soviet Union’s anti-theist campaigns and has operated as a division of the State Historical Museum since 1928. It was completely and forcefully secularized in 1929 and, as of 2011, remains a federal property of the Russian Federation. It is often mislabeled as the Kremlin owing to its location on Red Square in immediate proximity of the Kremlin.
    Links: Top Ten Cathedrals, Top Ten Squares, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Basil%27s_Cathedral,
  5. Kazan
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           Kazan is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Tatarstan, Russia. With a population of 1,143,546 (2010), it is the 8th most populous city in Russia. Kazan lies at the confluence of the Volga and Kazanka Rivers in European Russia. In April 2009, the Russian Patent Office granted Kazan the right to brand itself as the “Third Capital” of Russia. In 2009 it was chosen as the “sports capital of Russia.”
    Links: Temples, Top Ten Cathedrals, Top Ten Mosques, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kazan,
  6. Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, St. Petersburg
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    The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood Khram Spasa na Krovi is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg, Russia. It is also variously called the Church on Spilt Blood and the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ (Russian: Собор Воскресения Христова), its official name. “The preferred Russian name for this great church is [Храм Спаса на Крови] Khram Spasa na Krovi, but each English-language tourist publication seems to list it under a different name. The moniker of “Spilled Blood” is most popular in preference to the likes of the Church of the Resurrection, Church of our Savior on the Blood, Cathedral of the Ascension, Resurrection of the Christ, or Assumption, Church of the Redeemer, or any permutation of the above.” This Church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. It should not to be confused with the Church on Blood in Honour of All Saints Resplendent in the Russian Land, located in the city of Yekaterinburg where the former Emperor Nicholas II (1868-1918) and several members of his family and household were executed following the Bolshevik Revolution.
    Links: Top Ten Dome Interiors, Churches, Top Ten European Churches, Top Ten Cathedralshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_the_Savior_on_Blood,
  7. Novodevichy Convent
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    Novodevichy Convent, also known as Bogoroditse-Smolensky Monastery is probably the best-known cloister of Moscow. Its name, sometimes translated as the New Maidens’ Monastery, was devised to differ from an ancient maidens’ convent within the Moscow Kremlin. Unlike other Moscow cloisters, it has remained virtually intact since the 17th century.
    Links: Top Ten Convents, Monasteries, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novodevichy_Convent,
  8. Temple of All Religions
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           The Temple of All Religions or the Temple of the Universe is an architectural complex in the Staroye Arakchino Microdistrict of Kazan, Russia. It consists of several types of religious architecture including an Orthodox church, a minaret and a synagogue, among others. It is currently under construction, having been started in 1992 by local artist and philanthropist Ildar Khanov. The structure serves as a cultural center and a residence for Khanov and his assistants. Khanov is known for his efforts in the treatment of alcoholism, drug addiction and various other diseases. His former and current patients help him to maintain and develop the Temple, either by direct involvement in construction works or through sponsorship. The structure is not an active temple of any one religion, but rather a “temple of culture and truth” as Khanov describes its mission. It has become a popular landmark in the city of Kazan, which takes pride in the peaceful combination of different cultures (Islamic Tatar culture, Orthodox Russian and others). The Temple is visited both by tourists and by people seeking Khanov’s help. Khanov says that eventually the structure will have 16 cupolas, corresponding to the 16 major world religions.
    Links: Temples, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_of_All_Religions,
  9. Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius
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    The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is the most important Russian monastery and the spiritual center of the Russian Orthodox Church. The monastery is situated in the town of Sergiyev Posad, about 70 km to the north-east from Moscow by the road leading to Yaroslavl and currently is home to over 300 monks.
    Links: Monasteries, Paintings, Top 100 Russian Paintings, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinity_Sergius_Lavra,
  10. White Monuments of Vladimir and Suzdal
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    The White Monuments of Vladimir and Suzdal include eight medieval limestone monuments of Zalesye: The Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir (1158-60, 1185-89); The Golden Gate in Vladimir (1158-64, with later modifications); The Cathedral of Saint Demetrius in Vladimir (1194-97); The castle of Andrew the Pious in Bogolyubovo (1158-65, with later modifications); The Church of the Intercession on the Nerl in Bogolyubovo (1165); The Suzdal Kremlin with the Cathedral of the Nativity (1222-25, built up in the 16th century); The Monastery of Saint Euthymius in Suzdal (mostly 16th century); and The Church of Boris and Gleb in Kideksha (1152, with later modifications).
    Links: Top Ten Cathedrals, Churches, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Monuments_of_Vladimir_and_Suzdal,
  11. Golden Mountains of Altai
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           Golden Mountains of Altai consists of the Altai and Katun Natural Reserves, Lake Teletskoye, Belukha Mountain and the Ukok Plateau. The site has been described as such; “the region represents the most complete sequence of altitudinal vegetation zones in central Siberia, from steppe, forest-steppe, mixed forest, subalpine vegetation to alpine vegetation.” Altai is also important in its preservation of globally endangered mammals, such as snow leopard and the Altai argali. The site covers a vast area of 16,175 km².
    Links: National Parks, Top Ten Felines, Top 100 Birds, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Mountains_of_Altai,
  12. Kizhi Pogost
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           Kizhi Pogost is a historical site dating from the 17th century on Kizhi island. The island is located on Lake Onega in the Republic of Karelia, Russia. The pogost is the area inside a fence which includes two large wooden churches (the 22-dome Transfiguration Church and the 9-dome Intercession Church) and a bell-tower. The pogost is famous for its beauty and longevity, despite that it is built exclusively of wood.
    Links: Top Ten Churches,
  13. Lake Baikal
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           Lake Baikal is the world’s oldest, at 30 million years, and deepest, averaging 744.4 m (2,442 ft). Located in the south of the Russian region of Siberia, between Irkutsk Oblast to the northwest and the Buryat Republic to the southeast, it is the most voluminous freshwater lake in the world, containing roughly 20% of the world’s unfrozen surface fresh water. At 1,642 m (5,387 ft), Lake Baikal is the deepest and among the clearest of all lakes in the world. Similar to Lake Tanganyika, Lake Baikal was formed as an ancient rift valley, having the typical long crescent shape with a surface area of 31,722 square km (12,248 square mi), less than that of Lake Superior or Lake Victoria. Baikal is home to more than 1,700 species of plants and animals, two thirds of which can be found nowhere else in the world. It is also home to Buryat tribes who reside on the eastern side of Lake Baikal, rearing goats, camels, cattle and sheep, where the regional temperatures vary from a minimum of −19 °C (−2 °F) in winter to maximum of 14 °C (57 °F) in summer. Lake Baikal is nicknamed “Older sister of Sister Lakes (Lake Khövsgöl and Lake Baikal).”
    Links: Top Ten Lakes, Top Ten European Lakes, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Baikal,
  14. Bonus: Crystal Island, Moscow
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    Crystal Island is a proposed building project in Moscow, Russia that is currently planned to have around 2,500,000 m2 (27,000,000 ft2) of floor space and a height of 450 meters (1,476 ft.) designed by Norman Foster. At these dimensions upon completion it would be the largest structure (in floor space) on earth. The architectural firm behind the design is Foster and Partners. The tent-like superstructure would rise to 450m, and form a breathable “second skin” and thermal buffer for the main building, shielding the interior spaces from Moscow’s weather. This second skin will be sealed in winter to minimize heat loss, and opened in the summer to naturally cool the interior. The building would be integrated into a new park, which would provide a range of activities throughout the year, with cross country skiing and ice skating in the winter. It is stated to have a multitude of cultural, exhibition, performance, hotel, apartment, retail and office space, as well as an international school for 500 students. The building would be powered by built-in solar panels and wind turbines. The site would also feature on-site renewable and low-carbon energy generation. As of 2009, construction has been postponed due to the global economic crisis.
    Links: Top Ten Proposed Towers, Top Ten Towers, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crystal_Island,
  15. Bonus: Struve Geodetic Arc
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           The Struve Geodetic Arc is a chain of survey triangulations stretching from Hammerfest in Norway to the Black Sea, through ten countries and over 2,820 km, which yielded the first accurate measurement of a meridian. The chain was established and used by the German-born Russian scientist Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve in the years 1816 to 1855 to establish the exact size and shape of the earth. At that time, the chain passed merely through two countries: Union of Sweden-Norway and the Russian Empire. The Arc’s first point is located in Tartu Observatory, where Struve conducted much of his research. In 2005, the chain was inscribed on the World Heritage List as a memorable ensemble of the chain made up of 34 commemorative plaques or built obelisks out of the original 265, main station points which are marked by drilled holes in rocks, iron crosses, cairns, others. Measurement of the triangulation chain comprises 258 main triangles and 265 geodetic vertices. The northernmost point is located near Hammerfest in Norway and the southernmost point near the Black Sea in Ukraine.
    Links: Top 100 Scientists, Top Ten Scientific Theories, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Struve_Geodetic_Arc,
  16. Links: Top Ten Russian Hotels, Top Ten Russian Restaurantshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russia,

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