LARGEST COUNTRY ON EARTH
Experience Russia and its contradicting locations - from the tourist hot spots to the charming small towns or natural locations around some of the country's most significant lakes and mountains
Words: Aleksandra Georgieva
Photography: Tom Grimbert
20 October 2019
A global political superpower and the largest country on the planet, it is no wonder why Russia is so diverse and even extreme in certain aspects. Take for example the Siberian winds and ever-freezing snowfalls up in the cold mountains. Now compare them to the shiny aquamarine sea waters and beach resorts, which seem worlds away. This is of course quite understandable, given the well-known fact that the Russian Federation spans across over one-eighth of the inhibited land on the planet.
The capital, Moscow, is the home to the famous Red Square, which contrasts in its glamour with the simple Soviet-style buildings located not too far away. It is no surprise the area has turned it into a tourist hot spot. Yet, as Moscow makes the largest metropolitan area in the whole of Europe, it also hosts extremely wealthy households, compared to regions in Siberia, for an example. The famous square alongside monuments such as the Winter Palace in the major city of Saint Petersburg have turned the country into an incredibly rewarding destination to visit.
Alongside all the popular tourist locations, Russia also hides many little gems of information one could build their travels around. Did you for an example that the majority of Siberian towns have their own theatres? You can watch a ballet performance times cheaper than the tourist costs for Bolshoy spectacles that reach up to 120 pounds. One example is the Omsk State Music Theatre that has an atrium filled with plants. The Opera and Ballet Theatre on the other hand have their unique characteristics through Soviet murals portraying Lenin in heroic poses across the building's ceilings. The reason for this is to be found in the propaganda revolving around the country during the Communist government.
Destinations like Saint Petersbourg and Russia charm with opportunities to witness splendour palaces, churches and ancient fortresses. The country has inspired artists and literary giants such as Pushkin and Tolstoy for a reason. Whether you would prefer to go hiking near Lake Baikal, ski the Caucasus mountain hills or visit the region of Kamchatka and its active volcano, Russia delivers quite the varieties.
And while major cities will definitely spark your interest if you decide to visit, don't forget to explore the more remote locations across the country. You might be surprised by how mesmerising some of those laces are. Pop by the tiny historical villages and towns such as Veliky Novgorod, Yekaterinburg, Pskov and Suzdal. The wooden houses build in baroque style in cities like Irkutsk appear as if they are covered in lace due to the precise wood carvings that embed them. Simply make sure not to limit yourself with only the obvious visitor travel choices.
When you are away from the cosmopolitan centres and prospering urban areas, you would potentially face certain inconveniences and maybe even bureaucracy. But don't let that limit you and you might find yourself surprised by the incredible hospitality of the locals. In global term Russia remains a politically strong country but if you take a bit of care this should not intimidate you. Should you find yourself visiting, locals will most probably ask your political opinions. We advise you to keep neutral on any political topics or avoid such conversations in the first place. Just make sure you don't let your glass get empty, unless you are ready to share the remaining liquid in that vodka bottle. While the name of the strong spirit comes from the word for water 'вода', make no mistake that Russians honour the global stereotype of the nation's love for vodka.