Russia is the world’s largest country. So vast is this country that it stretches from Poland to North Korea; and from the northern polar regions to the southern deserts of Asia. Many parts of this country are undisturbed, mysterious in a way – contributing to the aura of mystique that envelops Russia. Few understand this country, mainly because few have had the chance to visit it in the last century. And its recent history has not been rosy at all. The turn of the 20th century saw an overthrow of the Tsar imperialist rule and a subsequent bloody civil war ensued between the White Army and the Bolshevik Red Army that ended in a Lenin-led victory for the latter. After Lenin died in 1924 and was succeeded by Stalin, more deaths ensued from mass starvation and purges, followed by another 27 million in WWII at the hands of the Germans. More recently, Russia bore witness to the collapse of the Soviet Union, which was followed by a series of economic crises. And today, unrest continues to plague this country with the ongoing Russian and Chechen-separatist guerrilla conflict. In spite of all this, the economy has grown in recent years and tourism is flourishing with increasing rigor.
Unfortunately, traveling to Russia is not an easy thing. The visa process is notorious for being costly and time-consuming. But Russia has much to offer visitors who are patient enough to endure the oft-frustrating entry process. Few countries, after all, can rival the natural beauty of Russia. Its terrains range from the soft beaches and resorts along the Black Sea, to the broad plains and low hills in the West, to the high mountain ranges like the Caucasus and Altai in the south, to the volcanoes on the Kamchatka in the east, to the ancient coniferous forests in the north, to the frozen tundra in Siberia, where incidentally you’ll also find some of the world’s largest, deepest, and most ancient lakes like the Baikal. Indeed, much of Russia is unspoiled, undisturbed, and ready to be enjoyed by adventurous nature enthusiasts.
Russia is also filled with unique architecture to marvel at with such famous examples like the Transfiguration church at Kizhi, a wooden church of the baroque era with a bizarre set of onion domes (22 of them). Kizhi also happens to be a popular destination, where you’ll find a beautiful ensemble of wooden houses, churches, chapels, and monasteries. Many of the cathedrals in Russia are famed for their onion-like cupolas, which are typically surrounded by bell towers and aisles – the New Jerusalem Monastery in the town of Istra is a famous example.
The art in Russian galleries are interesting to visit as well and feature exhibits of Russian icon painting. These paints were used to help people with their prayers. One famous Russian master of icon painting is Andrei Rublev and a great collection of his works can be found at the Tretyakov Gallery.
There are many great destinations to check out in Russia, but Moscow and St. Petersburg are the two most visited. Most of Russia’s highlights are found in these two cities, but there are also other destinations worth checking out. They include Irkutsk, Novgorod, Vladamir, Kazan, Validivostok, Yakutsk, Murmansk, Novosibirsk, Ekaterinburg, and the Krasnoyarsk region.