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About Russia

Russia (Fact sheet)
From the windy Baltic Sea to the Pacific coast, from the Arctic ices to the wild steppe, expands a country, occupying one sixth of the world's landmass - Russia. This is a country of rustling birch woods and silent pine forests, frosty winters and spectacular summers, mighty Siberian rivers and desolate marshes, frozen tundra and never-ending steppe, golden wheat fields and enormous blue skies, sprawling cities and forgotten villages, onion-domed churches and picturesque Mosques, white-walled monasteries and Imperial palaces, heroic past and thrilling legends, enigmatic icons and stirring symphonies, the home land of Anna Karenina and Doctor Zhivago, Peter Tchaikovsky and Wassily Kandinsky, the Maryinsky opera and the Bolshoy ballet. These are just some of the attractions of this vast and romantic land. Russia has changed a lot over the past fifteen years. Overcoming the difficulties of transforming itself into a modern capitalist nation Russia is a country with a great potential.
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Moscow
Once called "The City of Forty Times Forty Churches" or the "Third Rome", Moscow has grown from a wooden village, first mentioned in the twelve century, into a thriving and dynamic capital city. Moscow has long been the centre of political and religious power in Russia and nowhere is this better seen than in the Kremlin, with its conglomeration of onion-domed churches and presidential apartments. This ancient citadel and the near-by sixteen-century St. Basil Cathedral on Red Square harmonize remarkably well with such diverse modern architecture as the Lenin Mausoleum, Stalinist skyscrapers, ultra-modern shopping centres, restaurants and super de luxe hotels. This unique combination of past and present, historical and contemporary, combined with such cultural gems as the Tretyakov gallery and the Bolshoy Theatre is what makes Moscow so attractive.
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St. Petersburg
The Venice of the North and the Babylon of the Snows, St. Petersburg is an engineering miracle thrown up by Peter the Great on desolate marshland at the mouth of the river Neva. This is a city of bracing frosts in winter and romantic White Nights in summer, when the sun never seems to set on the Imperial palaces, winding canals, arched bridges, granite embankments, wide prospects and leafy islands. The amazing diversity of architectural styles - the baroque Winter Palace and Smolny Cathedral, the classical Kazan Cathedral and Mikhailovsky Palace, the eclectic Maryinsky Theatre and St. Isaac's Cathedral, the neo-Russian Church on Spilled Blood and the pearls of Art Nouveau on Petrograd island - makes St. Petersburg the eighth wonder of the world. But do not leave St. Petersburg without visiting the parks of Pavlovsk, the palaces of Tsarskoe Selo and the golden fountains of Peterhof.
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The Golden Ring of Russia
The Golden Ring is a unique route winding in and out of cities and villages in the historical heart land of Old Muskovy. Every stop on the way is a chapter of Russian history and an architectural masterpiece - St. Sergius Monastery of the Trinity in Sergiev Posad, Pereslavl-Zalessky's Kremlin, Dormition Cathedral in Rostov, Church of St. Elijah the Prophet in Yaroslavl, Ipatiev Monastery in Kostroma, Church of the Nativity in Suzdal and the Golden Gates of Vladimir. Each centre contains many outstanding examples of Russian icon painting.
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Novgorod
Located 120 miles southeast of St. Petersburg on the Volkhov River, Novgorod the Great is one of Russia's oldest cities. A member of the Hanseatic League, the town traces its history back to the 9th century when it was an important trading centre on the waterway between Scandinavia and Byzantium. Today Novgorod is open-air museum of Old Russian architecture, with its ancient Kremlin, St. Sophia's Cathedral, and concentration of onion-domed churches, twelve-century Yuriev monastery and unique school of icon painting.
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Pskov
Located 270 km from St. Petersburg, Pskov is an ancient Russian town. Founded in the 10th century at the confluence of the Velikaya and Pskova Rivers, it became the centre of a unique school of icon painting. Among the architectural delights of Pskov are the old Kremlin, local churches and the Famous Caves Monastery in near-by Pechora.
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Kaliningrad
Founded by the Teutonic Knights in the thirteen century, the fortress town of Konigsberg became a member of the Hanseatic League in 1340. Frederick I was crowned king of Prussia here in the thirteenth-century castle in 1701. Tourists can also visit the old cathedral and university, where Kant taught in the eighteenth century. Now a Russian enclave in the southeast corner of the Baltic Sea, Kaliningrad boasts pleasant surrounding countryside, with rolling hills, golden shores and sandy beaches.
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Smolensk
Situated 392 km from Moscow on both banks of the upper Dnieper River, Smolensk is one of the ancient Russian cities. The history of the town, once called the "key to the State of Moskovy", regarding its exceptional importance on the western borders of the ancient Russia, dates back to 863 A.D., where it is spoken of as a big city, lying on the great waterway "from the Varangians to the Greeks". Twelve century churches, the defense wall and towers around the city of the late sixteenth century, the Cathedral of the Dormition, the monument to Field Marshal M. Kutuzov are just some of the attractions of this charming town. And do not leave Smolensk without visiting the famous Teremok, a branch of the Museum of Pictorial Art, located just 18 km from the town and well-known for its murals by N. Roerich.
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Siberia
The silent land of Siberia stretches over the boundless plains lying between the Ural Mountains, frozen Arctic, Mongolian deserts and the Pacific Ocean. Historically the place of exile for Russian criminals, this vast hinterland is rich in animal life and natural resources. Straddled by three rivers slowly winding their way towards the Arctic Ocean, Siberia's scenery is truly awesome. It is also home to Lake Baikal, the world's largest lake, with its unique fauna and flora. Most major cities as Omsk, Irkutsk, Khabarovsk, Vladivostok are concentrated along the Trans-Siberian Railroad.
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