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Most of Russia tends to be rural and undeveloped.  Visitors can journey out to the countryside and see one of several little towns with castles.  But for a truly memorable vacation, visitors flock to Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Moscow

Moscow is a one-of-a-kind city that is a must see on any trip to Russia.  Here, visitors will find the Kremlin, Red Square, and several notable churches.

st basil cathedral - moscow, russia The Kremlin is much like an enclosed city.  It serves as the historical and governmental center of Russia.  Cathedral Square, the Grand Kremlin Palace, the Terem Palace, and the Palace of Facets are all located within the Kremlin, along with several museums that preserve the long history of Russia.

Near the Kremlin is Red Square.  Watch the guards change at the Eternal Flame or stop by to see Lenin's Tomb.  While there, check to see if the nearby Cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed is open.

The cathedral, which contains nine separate chapels, was commissioned by Ivan the Terrible and was completed in 1561.  The grave of Basil Fool for Christ is found within the cathedral.

St. Petersburg

winter palace - hermitage museum - st petersburg, russia
Winter Palace — Hermitage Museum

For a change of pace, visitors should travel to St. Petersburg.  The city was founded in 1703 and is now home to several wonderful sites and architectural treasures.

The Hermitage is the best-known St. Petersburg tourist destination.  It is one of the oldest and largest art gallery and museum complexes in the world.  The Hermitage's collections are so large that they are displayed in six different buildings!

The Hermitage holds works by Michelangelo, da Vinci, Rembrandt, Van Gough, Picasso and many more well known artists.  The collection was started by Catherine the Great in 1764 when she purchased over 200 paintings in Europe.  Each of the tsars added to the collection, and it eventually became quite a remarkable holding.  The works were originally kept private, but during the Russian revolution, the Hermitage was proclaimed public property.

Aside from the Hermitage, St. Petersburg is well known for its beautiful churches.  Here sits the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, an important Russian Orthodox Church.  Its name refers to the blood that was spilt during the assassination of Alexander II.  Alexander II was mortally wounded in 1881 on the grounds where the church stands today.

Another well-known church in the area is the Peter and Paul Cathedral, which is named for the apostles Peter and Paul.  It is built out of stone and features a spire that stands 404 feet tall.  Inside the cathedral are the remains of several Russian emperors, most notably those of Peter the Great and Nicholas II.  The Peter and Paul Cathedral is located within the Peter and Paul Fortress which was built under Peter the Great's orders in 1703.  This noted fortress is the oldest landmark in all of St. Petersburg.

trans-siberian railway tunnel - siberia, russia

Cruises and Railroad Journeys

In addition to the many city destinations, tourists to Russia may enjoy a cruise on the Volga, Yenisei, or Lena rivers.  A journey on the Trans-Siberian Railroad is a favorite with railroad buffs.

The Trans-Siberian Railroad or Railway network connects Moscow and other parts of European Russia with the Russian Far East and other eastern Asia destinations.  The primary route, running from Moscow through southern Siberia to Vladivostok, was completed in 1916 after twenty-five years of construction.  The entire one-way journey is about 5,772 miles in length, spans 8 time zones, and takes about 7 days to complete.


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