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St. Petersburg Travel Guide

Saint Petersburg Tourist Information. Basic Facts

Having the right data about your destination at hand can help you reduce expenses and save nerves. Here is the list of the most important facts about life in St. Petersburg with hyperlinks to more detailed information. It’s just like the chapter «content» in a book, and don’t miss it as it’s a guide to our guide)

TRANSPORT

How to get to St. Petersburg

The city can be reached by car, bus, train, plane, and ferry. Bus and train lines connect St. Petersburg with many Eastern European countries, and there is a high- speed rail connection between Helsinki and St. Petersburg. The city is a two-hour flight from Berlin and a three-hour flight from Paris. For details.

Travel to Moscow

Moscow and St. Petersburg are linked by numerous rail and air routes. Most trains depart from Moskovsky railway station in St. Petersburg and arrive at Leningradsky station in Moscow. There are both daytime and overnight trains. The fastest is Sapsan with travel time of about four hours. High-speed trains run several times a day with the first departure at 05.30\05.40 in both directions.
In the high season, there are a few bus routes.
St. Petersburg’s airport, Pulkovo serves flights to Moscow’s three main airports Domodedovo, Vnukovo, and Sheremetyevo.

Transport System

The city operates an extensive subway network serving almost all districts. Public transport also consists of bus, trolleybus and tram network. St. Petersburg doesn’t have an overground tram system like the S-Bahn in Berlin. There are private mini-buses marked with the letter K before the number of the route. The railway system consists of five stations serving both commuter and long-distance trains.

Taxi

The city has several dozens of taxi services, none of them is run by the city itself, as is the case in Beijing or New York, all the operators are private companies.

EVERYDAY LIFE

Climate And Weather

The weather is very unsettled with a high level of humidity and only 62 sunny days a year, on average. Mild winters (in comparison with other parts of Russia) compensate for rainy summers. You never know what the evening will be even if it’s sunny and warm in the morning.

English Language

English is not widely spoken in St. Petersburg even by young people, though some people will be glad to help you find the right address and point you in the right direction. In the city center, the names of most streets are also written in the Latin alphabet as are the names of metro stations.

Opening Hours And Public Holidays

Most shops and service providers work from 9-10.00 until 21-22.00. Most shopping centers close at 22.00 even on weekends. Weekends don’t differ much from weekdays regarding opening hours.
Russian public holidays are the New Year’s Eve (in 2016 the first workday was January 11); February 23; March 8; May 9; June 12; November 4.

Accommodation

St. Petersburg provides a wide range of accommodation options that are not much different from those you can find at any other big city around the globe. The local peculiarity is that in St. Petersburg there are many so-called mini-hotels. A mini-hotel is a hotel consisting of just a few rooms and reduced personnel. Many hotels, short-term-rent apartments, and hostels are located within walking distance from main attractions, and they are not much more expensive than those in distant districts.

Currency, Money, Credit Cards

Russia’s official currency is the Russian ruble (another way of writing is rouble, but we prefer ruble)+. The abbreviation is RUR. One ruble is divided into 100 kopeks.
In Russia, it’s permitted to pay for goods and services only with rubles, other currencies officially cannot be used. Credit cards are accepted almost everywhere, even at many little shops. ATMs can be found at shopping centers, halls of metro stations, railway stations, and other facilities and venues.
It’s highly recommended to exchange money at bank offices or separate exchange units easily recognized by the sign «Exchange» or, in Russian, «Обмен валюты». Every bank sets its own exchange rates.

Travel Information Offices

St. Petersburg city authorities operate nine tourist information centers.

Time Zone

St. Petersburg is located in the Moscow standard time (MST) zone: GMT/UTC +3. Daylight saving time is no longer observed.

Electricity

The electric current in Russia is 220V AC. Wall sockets are designed for two-pin plugs. Plugs with thick pins may not fit into Russian standard wall outlets. In this case, you need an adaptor that can be bought at most supermarkets. Modern buildings and apartments are usually equipped with wall outlets compatible with plugs with thick pins.

Signs

In the city center, you can see many signs in English, which makes the life of a traveler who’s unfamiliar with the Cyrillic alphabet much easier. If you are such a traveler, we think you should read our list of Russian signs with their translation into English and maybe print it.

St. Petersburg Guest Card

The city launched the visitor’s card a few years ago, and it proved to be a very useful tool for travelers as it offers discounts or free access to many attractions and transport. The official website of the card is here: http://petersburgcard.com/en/about-card/petersburgcard

Telephone Area Code

The international telephone code of Russia is +7, the code of St. Petersburg is 812, and of the Leningrad region is 813. For information about how to make a call from St. Petersburg.

Internet, Wi-Fi

Cafes, coffee shops, restaurants, railway stations, shopping centers provide free Internet access, sometimes limited to a number of minutes. Internet via mobile networks is also available everywhere even underground, but it can sometimes be expensive.

Toilets

St. Petersburg is well supplied with toilets, information on where to find them.

RULES AND RESTRICTIONS

Anti-Gay law

In 2011 and again in 2013, St. Petersburg authorities and the federal parliament accepted medieval-style laws prohibiting «propaganda of same-sex culture». The laws envisage punishments for those who try to publicly promote the benefits of same-sex relationships and other non-traditional forms of sexuality. On paper, what’s defined as propaganda of homosexuality under the laws is not strictly defined, so there is enough space for interpretations. And misinterpretations. In practice, it means that to avoid risks, one should not openly demonstrate homosexual relationships. The St. Petersburg law caused outrage abroad: Amnesty International strongly opposed the law and the authorities of Milan, Italy even accepted a document declaring their condemnation of the action of their St. Petersburg colleagues. It has brought no relief for LGBT activists, but no charges or fines have yet been recorded in St. Petersburg.

Restrictions On The Purchase And Consumption Of Alcohol

Drinking alcohol, including beer, on the street is illegal. The police are obliged to fine such drinkers, however, fines are not issued often as policemen have enough work of other kinds.
You can purchase alcohol, including beer, at supermarkets and shops strictly from 11:00 until 22:00. At supermarkets buying booze after 22:00 is technologically impossible as a cash-desk machine will not process the purchase. At little shops, everything is possible, but if only you know the seller personally.
You must be at least 18 years old to purchase alcohol, so if a seller has any doubts about your age, he will ask you to show your passport or other official identification.

Smoking Rules

As of July 1, 2014, strict rules regarding smoking came into effect in Russia. To put it briefly, it’s prohibited to smoke in schools, universities, hospitals, government buildings, ports, airports, railway stations, public transport stops, eateries, theatres, cinemas, etc. Outside these types of establishments, you can smoke 15 meters away area.

Anti-Noise Law

St. Petersburg’s regional law regulates hours within which you can listen to loud music, drilling, yelling, and making other kinds of noise. This time period is limited to 07:00 — to 23:00. From 23:00 to 07:00 you should be as quiet as possible. Violation of the law results in a fine. There are two exemptions to the law: rescue operations and religious actions.

Speed Limits

Driving on Russian roads is rather difficult and minding the traffic rules doesn’t help much as they are often violated. First-time visitors to Russia are surprised by Russian drivers’ behavior. Nonetheless, rules must be obeyed. Most important of all are speed limits, especially given the fact that many roads are equipped with video control.
The speed limits in Russia are (for cars and trucks up to 3.5 tons):
— within cities, towns, villages — 60 km/h
— outside of the settlements — 90 km/h
— highways — 110 km/h

Criticism of Putin

Criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin or his ice-hockey teammates or oligarchs can get you fined or even placed behind bars. The law is similar to one applicable in Turkey regarding criticism of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. So, in public spaces, please, do not speak badly of Mr. Putin.
Ok, we’re joking! Just relax and have fun!
Though, of course, there are some themes not to be better raised when talking to the Russians.

ATTRACTIONS

White Nights

Maybe the first thing you’ve heard about Saint Petersburg is that in the middle of the night from the end of May until the middle of July, you can read a book without artificial light. White nights happen as the sun doesn’t sink deep behind the horizon leaving some light to reduce the city’s expenses on electricity and make it possible for you to take photos of the night Nevsky avenue without a flash. The White nights period even has its own official timing based on astronomical counts: from June 11 till July 2 but in reality a bit beyond this period. That’s the peak of visitors’ numbers.
What’s interesting here is that White nights, naturally, do not occur especially in St. Petersburg, it’s a phenomenon to be seen all over the north of Russia, in Baltic states as well as in Finland. But it’s Saint Petersburg that managed to turn it into tourist attraction and symbol.

Rivers And Canals, Raising Bridges

St. Petersburg has several nicknames, and one of the most popular of them is the Northern Venice due to its numerous canals. A boat trip, usually of one-hour duration, gives a unique view of the city quite different from the one you get from the ground.

Architecture Main Sights

St. Petersburg offers a great number of buildings that could be served as an image for a postcard. Many call the city «an open-air museum» implying the beauty of its streets, palaces, rivers, bridges. The architecture minimum to be seen while visiting Saint Petersburg consists of
— the Nevsky avenue;
— Kazan Cathedral;
— St. Isaac Cathedral;
— The Winter palace;
— Palace square;
— Catherine Palace in a town of Pushkin;
— Peterhof’s fountains, parks, and palaces;
— The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood;
— Peter and Paul fortress;
— Spit of the Vasilievsky island with rostral columns;
— and at least one of the raised bridges (best of all, the Palace bridge, but really no matter which one).
All of them, except sightseeings in Peterhof and Pushkin and a raising bridge (which can be seen in the midnight only), are located along the routes of two bus city tour companies.

Top Museums To Visit

Well, the Hermitage is a constant resident of all world’s top-10 museum ratings and so on. It’s really №1. And some other museums (including branches of the Hermitage itself) which are also worth visiting are overshadowed by the Hermitage and, as a consequence, overlooked.
Here is a shortlist of museums you may be interested in:

1. The Hermitage.

2. Peter and Paul fortress. The fortress is a museum as itself and contains many other museums including the exhibition of the history of the city http://www.spbmuseum.ru/themuseum/museum_complex/peterpaul_fortress/?lang_ui=en.

3. Erarta. The largest contemporary art museum in Russia hosted in a separate four-stocked building and offering some astonishing installations. http://www.erarta.com/en/.

4. Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood. That’s a church built at the spot where Russian Emperor Alexander II was killed in 1881 by terrorists https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_the_Savior_on_Blood.

5. Russian museum. Founded in 1895 by Russian Emperor Alexander III for collection of Russian art. Here one of most famous paintings in the world, The Black square by Kazimir Malevich, can be seen. http://en.rusmuseum.ru/.

6. Kazan Cathedral. This is a church, not a museum, but open to tourists as well. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kazan_Cathedral,_Saint_Petersburg.

7. St. Isaac’s Cathedral is a mix of a museum and a church. Officially, it’s a museum, but it’s also a place for a few services a week to be held. You can get inside the Cathedral and visit its colonnade from where a picturesque view of the city is open. http://eng.cathedral.ru.

8. Catherine Palace. Located in a town of Pushkin, it contains a newly built Amber Room which is the most important attraction here. http://tzar.ru/en. About how to get to Pushkin.

You can easily book excursions online through an international aggregator which secures your payment in your currency and a seat and ensures a safe deal:

ENTERTAINMENTS

Sports

St. Petersburg is home to professional teams in volleyball, basketball, football, ice-hockey, and some other sports. The most famous are the Zenit football club and the SKA ice-hockey club. Essentials of all the professional teams and the venues where they play against visiting rivalries you can pick up from.

Entertainments If You Don’t Know Russian

Visiting many places to have fun doesn’t require the knowledge of Russian and even understanding of the Cyrillic alphabet.

Towns For Day Trip

Outside of St. Petersburg lie little towns with parks, palaces, or ancient fortresses worth visiting: Vyborg, Peterhof, Pushkin, Pavlovsk, Gatchina, Shlisselburg, Staraya (Old) Ladoga, Ivangorod, Kronshtadt, Koporye, Priozersk.

Neighboring Cities

There are two ancient cities near St. Petersburg, also worth visiting if you have enough time for a day trip to Veliky Novgorod (with its Kremlin and an architecture open-air museum Vitoslavlitsy) or a two-day trip to Pskov (Kremlin and remains of a medieval city).

Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland

Saint Petersburg is within just a few hours’ trip from Vilnius, Riga, Tallinn, and Helsinki. All the Baltic and Finland’s capitals are connected to the city by rail, coach routes, Tallinn and Helsinki also by a ferry line. Helsinki can be reached by plane in just 50 minutes.

City Tour

There are two companies in St. Petersburg operating city tour lines. The routes cover all major sightseeings in the city center.

The Peter and Paul Fortress’s Canon Shot

Every day at 12.00 one of two canons located on the Emperor’s bastion of the Peter and Paul fortress fires a shot. This one-second ritual attracts a lot of visitors, and the sound of the shot can be heard well beyond the fortress, even a few kilometers from it. You can synchronize your watches with the cannon.

Walking On Roofs

Excursions on roofs with, yes, the possibility to fall from the top onto a sidewalk, are becoming increasingly popular among visitors. All these excursions are unofficial, being conducted only by amateurs. We visited some roofs, and they really offer a superb and unusual view of the city.

SAFETY AND EMERGENCY

Floods

St. Petersburg is known for its floods, some of them did severe harm to the city and its citizens. During the city’s history, more than 330 floods were recorded, but only a few of them were sensible and noticeable. And it’s not a paradox, the reason for this seeming disproportion is that a flood is recorded when the water level exceeds the zero water level of the Kronshtadt depth gauge, and not necessarily that water is flooding the streets and squares. And though the city is defended by the recently built sea-wall, anyway from time to time water intervenes.

Safety

Saint Petersburg is a rather safe city measured even by European standards. Of course, pickpockets, robberies, and other unpleasant things are not unheard of but don’t happen often. In case of emergency, dial 112. For further details.

Icicles

Overhead ice is very dangerous and a few persons every winter \ early spring die from falling pieces of it. Look up and be careful, that will reduce risk, though, of course, avoiding the danger completely is impossible.

And Typical Question: Bears In The Streets?

NO

WHAT TO DO IN KISH ISLAND

Kish Island, the pearl of Persian Gulf has many attractions including Beach Park, Birds Park, Deer Park, Kish Wildlife Park and Dolphinarium.

WHAT TO DO IN KISH ISLAND

Whether you are an adventurous scuba diver looking to explore the coral reefs of Persian Gulf or looking for a warm sunny beach to lie down on the silver sand, enjoy the smell of salt and read your book; Kish Trade-Industrial Free Zone Island has it all for you.

Kish is one of smaller islands in Persian Gulf and one of the most beautiful coral islands in the world.

The main attraction of this island is its gorgeous beaches. Even though Kish is not a big island (91 km²) most of its area is covered by beautiful beaches where you can go swimming in the blue-gem waters of the gulf.

The coral reefs in the bed of the sea purify water and make it crystal clear so you can see the underwater world and enjoy your beach relaxation even more.

Even on the most luxurious island of Iran you can enjoy a visit to a cultural heritage dating back more than two millennia. Kish Island has been inhabited by Iranians since Achaemenid Empire and it is rich in history as it is in beauty.

Kariz-e Kish is a remaining of an ancient Qanat (aqueduct) that has turned into an underground city and museum for people to visit.

Iranians designed Qanat system as an adaptation to arid climate five to six thousand years ago before the Roman Aqueducts. It is a hydraulic water system consisting of multiple vertical wells along a gentle slope that filters and guides water toward the arid areas.

Kariz-e Kish or Kish Qanat was built 2500 years ago to supply drinking water for island inhabitants. It’s a massive series of tunnels (10,000 square meters) snaking in a sixteen meters depth in coral earth of island. To have a good functioning Qanat it must start from a high elevation going down gradually to the valleys. But Kish Island does not have high elevation areas and still its Qanat is one of the best functioning in Iran.

Another factor that gives Kariz a unique characteristic is being in a coral ground. The coral reef purifies water very well plus when you walk in this cool ancient underground city, the walls and ceiling are covered with 500-600 million-year old fossils of turtle, shells, and other species of the sea.

Kish Island is one of the most favorite tourist destinations among Iranians and specifically younger generations. Beautiful shopping malls, restaurants, water activities, and beaches create a great package for a relaxing and romantic getaway.

One reason for this high fame is because the island is warm and nice during winter. When other parts of Iran is cold and covered with snow you can put your toes in the warm white sands on the beach and jet ski on the turquoise water of Persian Gulf.

The best time for Kish is from January to April. Kish climate is hot and humid with an average of 26°C in a year. In summer it can get as hot as 40°C (104°F).

Kish is a free trade zone where fifteen percent of all imports to Iran are through this region plus it has many investment incentives. You can take a short fly or a cruise from all the countries bordering the Persian Gulf to the Island. Tourists do not need a visa for entrance regardless of their nationality.

Don’t forget to take a Selfie with the Greek ship when the sunset sky turns orange and purple on the background, it will be the most romantic and serene shot from your trip to Iran. If you go for a walk on west beach of the island, you will see an abandoned ship sitting in the water. Fifty years ago this ship, belonging to Greece, came too close to the shore where she got stuck in the mud and she has remained beached ever since.

Imagine staying in a hotel looking like the palaces of archaemanina emperors with the Persian soldiers and half-man half-lion stone statues, and lofty columns with intricate decorations all around you and a tropical view out of your room will make your trip even more remarkable.

If you are more of a marine-hotel-person you can choose Toranj Hotel. Toranj Marine Hotel is the first hotel in Iran with on-water villas, drawing the shape of Paisley on the gulf, and glass floors to view the colorful marine life swimming beneath you in Persian Gulf. In this five star hotel you will experience an unforgettable stay with a panoramic view of sunset and sunrise over the sea every day.

Yekaterinburg travel guide

You’re Going to Love Ekaterinburg

Ekaterinburg may not thrill you with outstanding monuments or picturesque streets, but don’t be fooled by the unassuming exterior; the city has played a key role in Russia’s history and is a busy regional capital for business, arts, culture and entertainment. Located where Europe meets Russia, the city makes a great starting point for exploring the Ural Mountain region.

What to do in Yekaterinburg

1. The Last Tsar

Resplendent, majestic, magnificent: these are just a few of the adjectives used to describe the Church upon the Blood in Honour of All Saints (its full name). If the name gives a sense of something rather ominous, don’t be alarmed. It’s simply Russian history as usual. The church is built on the site where, in 1918, following a year of confinement, the Emperor Nicholas, his wife and children were executed. Of course, the former USSR was nothing if not expedient and, in 1977, the original house was demolished and up went this magnificent church. Ignore the macabre sense of irony (which is quite evident in the works of Russian authors) and enjoy the stunning interiors, which are as amazing as the outside.

2. 52 Stories High

What’s the view like from the Vysotskiy Viewing Platform? Simply use the elevators to scale its 52 floors (that’s 618 ft!) to get a breathtaking, panoramic view of the city of Ekaterinburg from way on up high. This is the second tallest building in Russia outside of Moscow, making the Vysotskiy skyscraper, which also houses many important and highly visible businesses, an unofficial icon of the city.

3. Ural Art

The long, nondescript building with its bright green gables could be mistaken for a country club if it weren’t for the massive ironworks surrounding the building. Clearly of historical significance, these draw visitors in to know more. Once within the museum, you’ll get a sense of the history and culture of Ekaterinburg. Besides the carefully curated collections in the gallery, of special note is the multiple dioramas or miniatures of the buildings. These show the progression and evolution of Ekaterinburg architecture and society.

4. Remembering A Historic President

Much beloved during Soviet Rule, the “Yeltsin Center” was opened in 2015 as an educational and political center. The center features concerts, multiple-day music festivals such as Island of the 90s”, “Old new rock”, cultural exhibitions, comic cons, and lectures by major international figures such as Germany’s Minister of the Interior. The center hosts numerous domestic and global film festivals such as Artdocfest and Beat Weekend, while also presenting numerous cultural and heritage media initiatives such as Jewish cultural programming and winter holiday celebrations throughout the year

5. The Past Preserved

With its charming old lampposts, fences of cast iron, and walking paths leading to beautiful, traditional summer homes, the Literary Quarter of Ekaterinburg is the cultural center of the city. Not least because this district is where Ural writers and artists are celebrated and their writings preserved and displayed proudly. These include major contemporary figures such as Dmitry Mamina-Sibiryak and Pavel Bazhov. While these may be new names to visitors seeing Ekaterinburg for the first time, the Literary Quarter’s eclectic charms are sure to feel familiar.

How to Get to Ekaterinburg

Plane

Koltsovo Airport (SVX) is located about 11 miles south of the city, serving both domestic and international flights. the RUB26 bus on the City Bus #1 route makes the trip to the main railway station.

Train

The Yekaterinburg-Sverdlovsk Railway Station is a major hub on the Trans-Siberian route, with connections throughout the region.

Car

Ekaterinburg is well connected to major centers throughout the Urals via a network of highways.

Bus

Ekaterinburg is a major hub for intercity bus travel, with easy connections to Chelyabinsk, Ufa, Parm and Sochi.

Where to Stay in Ekaterinburg

Stay in stylish modern rooms in a historic buildings at the Hotel Chekhov. Marins Park offers comfortable rooms in a convenient location near the train station.

Popular Neighborhoods in Ekaterinburg

Downtown – This is where you’ll find the city’s commercial and business areas, including the Vysotsky skyscraper, Siberia’s tallest building.

Shirokaya Rechka – This area is where you’ll find one of the city’s more unusual attractions: a Mafia cemetery on the river.

Kirovskiy Rayon – This residential area is where you’ll find Lake Shartash, where you can escape the city to go cycling or swimming.

How to Get Around Ekaterinburg

Public Transportation

The city is served by an extensive network of trams, buses and an underground metro. Single fares are RUB26.

Taxi

Taxis are plentiful in the city center, with fares that start at RUB70, increasing by RUB11.26 for each kilometer (0.6 mile).

Car

Traffic can be daunting in the city center but can be a good way of getting around the area. A compact rental starts at RUB2100.

The Cost of Living in Ekaterinburg

Shopping Streets

The so-called Chinese Market is a huge area in the western part of the city, where you’ll find hundreds of stalls with everything you can imagine for sale. For more upscale shopping, you’ll want to check out Vaynera Street in the central area of the city.

Groceries and Other

Eliseyskiy and Kirovskiy are two of the larger supermarket chains in the city, and you’ll also find a large supermarket at the Mega Ekaterinburg Mall just outside the city. A quart of milk costs about RUB48 and a dozen eggs RUB65.

Novosibirsk travel guide

You’re Going to Love Novosibirsk

Siberia’s increasingly mobile capital city, Novosibirsk boasts lovely wooden architecture, some exceptional museums and a warm, welcoming atmosphere that makes the desolation of the tundra seem thousands of miles away.

What to do in Novosibirsk

1. Animal Wonders And A Reputation For Welfare

Novosibirsk Zoo may come as a surprise to some visitors due to its sheer size. In total, this massive animal park has more than 11,000 inhabitants and over 700 species are represented. And they aren’t just native Siberian fauna either (although there are a few polar bears and Siberian tigers to get to know). From mandrills and yellow mongooses, to lions and cheetahs, the city zoo is crammed with charismatic critters, and has a reputation for being one of the most responsible zoos in the world, as well.

2. Endless Visual Delights From Russian History

Opened under Soviet rule in 1958, the State Art Museum is a visual delight. Well, from the outside it might seem a little dour, but when you get inside, you’ll be in art heaven. The 10,000 paintings and sculptures provide a unique panorama of Russian art, from 16th century Orthodox icons to 19th century realists and modern masters, too. The large collection of dreamy mountain landscapes by Nikolai Rerikh is a highlight, but there’s lots for art fans to feast on here.

3. Stunning Sacred Architecture

Although it was built relatively recently during Novosibirsk’s late 19th century boom, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral looks and feels much older. Perhaps that’s because the builders adopted a stunning Byzantine arrangement, with ornate cupolas that are crowned with golden gilding, and jaw-dropping murals inside the church. Inspiring, majestic, and very much a living religious center, the cathedral is one of the city’s focal points, and not to be missed.

4. A Fun-Packed Communist Curio

What with the prosperity of modern Novosibirsk, and the fresh, creative atmosphere of the city, it’s sometimes hard to remember that the city spent more than 70 years under Soviet rule. Well, you can refresh your historical memory at the USSR Museum, which presents a fascinating array of communist-era memorabilia. Even better, it’s a really hands-on place, where you can try on Soviet costumes (and take some unique photos). Fun, engaging and full of curiosities, it’s a quirky historical highlight.

5. Culture And Communist Kitsch At The City’s Heart

Modern Novosibirsk grew up around Lenina Square, which functions as the city’s civic heart. If you eat out or spend the evening in Novosibirsk, there’s almost no way to avoid Lenina – which is a good thing, as it’s full of appeal. For one thing, the square is lined with cultural institutions like the Philharmonic Orchestra and State Concert Hall – where shows are cheap and of an astounding quality. But there’s also a hulking statue of Lenin (hence the name) – a reminder that locals aren’t exactly ashamed of their Soviet heritage. And with restaurants and parks aplenty, the area is a place that always repays time spent there.

How to Get to Novosibirsk

Plane

Tolmachevo Airport has plenty of domestic and international connections. Bus 111 runs into the city center and costs RUB35. Expect taxis to charge around RUB500.

Train

Novosibirsk is about 50 hours from Moscow by train and is a stop on the Trans-Siberian Express. Tickets cost around RUB5,000-10,000.

Car

From Tomsk, take the P-255 straight to Novosibirsk or take the P-254 from Omsk; both journeys are about 8 hours.

Where to Stay in Novosibirsk

The city’s leading luxury hotels are as good as any in Russia. Highlights include the DoubleTree by Hilton, the Radisson Novosibirsk and the Marins Park Hotel.

Popular Neighborhoods in Novosibirsk

Krasny Prospekt – The most important street in town, Krasny Prospect is home to the Opera and a huge array of stores and restaurants.

Akademgorodok – Built by the Soviets as an academic city, Akademgorodok has some extraordinary architecture and beautiful tree-lined boulevards. It’s a great place to explore.

Oktyabrskiy Rayon – A sprawling neighborhood in the southeast of the city, with a beautiful riverfront and excellent bars like Beerman; it’s the ideal place to round of a busy day of activities.

Most booked hotels in Novosibirsk

Novosibirsk Marriott Hotel$89+    Excellent (9.1, 1,022 reviews)

Metelitsa Hotel$31+    Excellent (9.1, 945 reviews)

Park Inn by Radisson Novosibirsk$38+    Excellent (9, 2,069 reviews)

Hostel Obskoi$8+    Excellent (8.8, 164 reviews)

Marins Park Hotel Novosibirsk$32+    Excellent (8.4, 4,716 reviews)

Hostel Homeliness$23+    Excellent (8.5, 95 reviews)

View all hotels in Novosibirsk

How to Get Around Novosibirsk

Public Transportation

Novosibirsk has a small Metro system, which serves most central areas and costs RUB35 per ride.

Taxi

If you need a taxi in the city, expect to pay around RUB100 for the meter drop, then about RUB20 per mile.

Car

If you want to visit Tomsk or see the Ob valley, you can rent a car from companies like Eurazcar, Europcar and Hertz for around RUB700 per day.

MOSCOW

Introduction


The capital of Russia is an exciting, sparkling city which attracts visitors from all over the world. It’s a city of contrasts, where Soviet architecture mixes with fancy shops, and old Ladas and kitschy Bentleys drown in chaotic traffic. Moscow is a mixture of Asia and Europe, a quintessential combination of democracy and Soviet heritage. The city’s numerous sights, vibrant nightlife and relaxing green parks make it a wonderful holiday destination.


Historical Overview


Moscow did not become the capital of Russia straight away. It was one of the largest cities in Russia, founded in the middle of the 12th century. Moscow is usually associated with Grand Duke Yury Dolgoruky, who decided to build a fortress on the site of an ancient settlement. Historians still argue about the exact date of the founding of the city. Some believe it was 1147, while others state 1156. However, the first time Moscow was mentioned in historical documents was 1147. It became the country’s capital in the 16th century. A large settlement in the area where ​​modern Moscow stands appeared before the founding of the city. Archaeologists discovered several cemeteries which date back to the 7th century BC. There is evidence that the Finno-Ugric tribes and the Slavs, Vyatichi and Krivichi, lived there. These places were often associated with the Moscow River, which Balts or Slavs called “mosk”, which means swamp.

During the Middle Ages, Moscow was constantly under attack. After the death of Dolgoruky, the city was governed by Yuri Vsevolodovich and then Vladimir Yurevich until the Mongol-Tatar invasion in the 13th century. During this period, the Mongol-Tatars completely destroyed and burned the city. For a long time, the Russians had to pay tribute to the Golden Horde. Ivan Kalita (1288-1340) did a lot for the construction of the city. He built the first stone buildings: churches, cathedrals and fortress walls. A year before his death, he surrounded the Moscow Kremlin with new fortified walls.

His heirs continued to strengthen Moscow. At the same time, the process of the unification of Russia was ongoing. Tsar Ivan III refused to pay tribute to the Horde. In 1547, with the advent of Ivan IV, known as Ivan the Terrible, Moscow became the capital of the country until 1712. The religious significance of the city grew as well. After the fall of Constantinople in the middle of the 15th century, the Russian church began to develop as an independent organisation.

During the 16th-18th centuries, Moscow survived wars with the Poles and Tatar khans. In 1612, the troops under Minin and Pozharsky repulsed the Poles from Moscow. At the beginning of the 18th century, St Petersburg became the capital. During the Patriotic War of 1812, the city was occupied by French troops and destroyed by fire. The status of capital was returned to Moscow in 1918 after the formation of the RSFSR (Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic).


Where to Stay


When it comes to finding good accommodation, Moscow offers a wide range of options, from cheap hostels to the luxury Four Seasons next to Red Square and the Kremlin. If you like the hustle and bustle of a big city and visiting museums and theatres, the city centre is your best bet. Have a look at the National Hotel, Hotel Nikolsky Red Square, or Hostel ONE Kuznetsky Most. If you prefer a quiet location with a park, opt instead for the Ostankinsky District (Tourist Econom Hotel) or Khamovniki (Blues Hotel, Zodiak Boutique Hotel). Some hotels may seem overpriced, but sometimes they offer really good deals.

Bars and Restaurants


While you are in Moscow, you’ll never go hungry, as the city can offer various types of cuisine to meet your every need. Here you’ll find Moroccan, Japanese, Chinese and European dishes, from sushi and pasta to Portuguese Pastel de nata and spicy Taquito. Don’t miss panoramic restaurants with heart-stopping views over the city: White Rabbit, Kalina Bar, Sky Lounge and Carlson. To try some local cuisine, visit Grand Café Dr Zhivago, Mari Vanna or Matreshka. You can choose borshch, a traditional beet soup, syrniki (fried quark pancakes), Olivier salad and pelmeni (Russian dumplings). The best cocktail bars are Mendeleev Bar, Luch and Simachev Bar.


What to See

  • Let’s start exploring the city with Red Square and the Kremlin. The Moscow Kremlin is a historical, cultural and religious complex in the centre of the city, an ancient fortress with a unique ensemble of monuments which are UNESCO heritage sites, as well as the official residence of the Russian president. The Kremlin is located on the left bank of the Moskva River, on Borovitsky Hill. The Kremlin covers an area of 27.5 hectares.
  • St Basil’s Cathedral is the most famous Orthodox Church and one of the main attractions on Red Square, protected by UNESCO. The building is 65 metres high.
  • For art lovers, the Tretyakov Gallery with its enormous collection of paintings is a must-see. The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts is another large museum consisting of three buildings. Here, you will find masterpieces from the Dutch Golden Age, works of ancient civilisations, Russian paintings and Orthodox icons.
  • If you travel with kids, spend a day at Moscow Zoo. It was founded in 1864 and is home to more than 8000 species, including rare and exotic animals.
  • Arbat is an elegant promenade with lots of cafes, restaurants, musical performers and souvenir shops.
  • If you need a rest, head for one of the city’s parks, like Gorky Park or VDNKh. Here you can attend yoga and fitness classes, rent a bike or segway, or take a river trip. In winter, these parks turn into large skating rinks.
  • Tsaritsyno is a former summer residence of Catherine the Great. It’s a lovely place with gardens, a singing fountain, beautifully decorated buildings and ponds with ducks and swans.
  • The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour is a remarkable site on the bank of the Moskva River. The snow-white cathedral with its golden dome was destroyed by the Soviet authorities and then rebuilt in the 1990s.
  • Ostankino TV Tower is the tallest building in Moscow. Don’t forget to visit its observation deck with glass floor. You will be fascinated by the breathtaking views over the city.
  • Novodevichy Convent was founded in 1524. Many women from noble families lived and were buried here. There is a lovely pond and a small park nearby.
  • Kolomenskoe with its ancient churches and apple gardens is another must-see for any visitor. Here, you can see what a medieval city looked like. It was a favourite place of Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich.
  • If you want to see the modern side of the city, visit Moscow City, the business district with its sparkling skyscrapers and two panoramic restaurants, Ruski and Sixty.


Transport


Moscow’s transport network is really extensive. There are three major airports (Domodedovo, Vnukovo and Sheremetievo), Schyolkovsky Bus Terminal and nine railway stations. Visitors can also use the metro, buses, trolley-buses or taxis. Most train schedules are available online. The easiest and cheapest way to get from the airport to the city centre is the Aeroexpress train (approximately 40 minutes). You can also use Uber or the airport taxi desk. There is no need to worry about the language, as most drivers speak basic English, and taxi services offer customer support. Moscow can boast a few large parks (Sokolniki, Gorky, VDNKh), so don’t miss the chance to rent a bike there. Some central streets have cycle paths.

ART WITHOUT BORDERS

NOVOSIBIRSK REGION IS THE BUSINESS AND CULTURAL CENTRE OF SIBERIA. THERE’S ALWAYS SOMETHING TO DO, FOR LOCALS AND VISITORS ALIKE, WITH A HUGE NUMBER OF FESTIVALS AND CELEBRATIONS TO OCCUPY AND ENTERTAIN YOU.

TEXT LYUBOV ROMANOVA

The Milanese puppet theatre Carlo Colla & Figli performing at the art festival.

Over the years, music and dance festivals, air shows and historical re-enactments have transformed this Siberian region into a great place to relax and have fun.

A Polikarpov Po-2 aircraft on display at the air show.

Art Festival

Every spring, the Trans-Siberian Art Festival, a major cultural event, delights both Novosibirsk residents and visitors to the city. This celebration of music showcases new stars, hosts international premieres, and offers many other pleasant surprises, with new works by contemporary composers performed here for the first time every year.

Vadim Repin, a world-renowned classical violinist and a native of Novosibirsk, serves as the festival’s artistic director, and the backbone of the festival is always the Novosibirsk Philharmonic Orchestra.

Carlo Colla & Figli presents Casanova.

This spring some of the world’s most famous musicians came to perform in Novosibirsk: the conductors Tugan Sokhiev, Charles Dutoit (Switzerland), and Yan Pascal Tortelier (France); the pianists Konstantin Lifschitz (Switzerland), Denis Kozhukhin, Sergei Tarasov, and Claudia Yang (Malaysia & China); the violinists Daniel Lozakovich (Sweden), Roman Simovich (Montenegro); the cellists Antonio Meneses (Brazil) and Alexander Knyazev, and many others. A series of performances by the Harbin Symphony Orchestra, lead by Muhai Tang, was a separate and highly successful event.

Conductor Tugan Sokhiev is pleased to participate in the art festival.

Two international premiers took place during the festival at the A. M. Katz State Concert Hall. Conducted by Tugan Sokhiev, the Symphony Orchestra performed “Music of the Sea” by the Novosibirsk composer Boris Lisitsyn, and Vadim Repin played a violin concerto by Alexander Raskatov with the Symphony Orchestra lead by conductor Andres Mustonen.

The Trans-Siberian Art Festival, a major cultural event, delights both Novosibirsk residents and visitors to the city. It showcases new stars and hosts international premieres.

For the first time in the history of the festival, an opera performance was also included in the programme. Conducted by Dmitry Kryukov (Moscow), the Trans-Siberian Festival Orchestra, with the participation of music academy students, performed Wagner’s “Tannhäuser”. To celebrate the Year of Theatre, the festival also included performances by the Milanese puppet theatre Carlo Colla & Figli. The audience was particularly interested by “Devil, Soldier, and Violin”, a multimedia show based on “A Soldier’s Story” and other works by Igor Stravinsky, which was conducted by Dmitry Sitkovetsky (USA).

transsiberianfestival.com

Siberian Fire

The Siberian Fire International Festival of Military History is one of the most ambitious and impressive events of the summer. It takes place every June in the village of Bolshoy Oyosh in Kolyvan District.

The Streltsy, conquerors of Siberia. Reconstruction at the Siberian Fire festival.

This summer it was attended by more than five hundred historical re-enactment enthusiasts from Russia, France, Kazakhstan, Belarus, and the Czech Republic, and over 50 000 spectators came to enjoy the shows. Dozens of historical re-enactment campsites and interactive spaces were set up in the festival grounds. Visitors were given the opportunity to learn about nine periods in world and Russian history presented in the re-enacted battle scenes.

The Siberian Fire Festival of Military History is held annually in June.

The Siberian Fire International Festival of Military History is one of the most ambitious and impressive events of the summer. It takes place in the village of Bolshoy Oyosh.

The festival began with a picturesque procession. An exhibition of military and civilian equipment from different periods in history was also set up on the festival grounds, and everyone was welcome to pose for photos. Then, before the eyes of the public, a World War I battle scene was re-enacted, followed by a performance that illustrated the contribution of Siberian soldiers to the liberation of Sevastopol from German forces in 1944. Perhaps the most impressive sight was offered by a staged battle scene, complete with heavy military equipment, explosions and gunfire, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan.

Separate venues were open for children and teenagers: “Knightly Tournament for Children”, “Landsknecht Recruiting”, “Obstacle Course”, and “Children’s Historical Firing Range”. Festival events also included military sports competitions between military-patriotic clubs of the region.

According to tradition, the festival ended with a gala folk concert and colourful fireworks.

sibpatriotcentr.ru/siberianfire

Air Show

The last weekend of July, the aerodrome in Mochishche (12 km away from Novosibirsk) hosts a magnificent air show. More than 450 dedicated professional aviators from various regions of the Russian Federation participate in this event. Among them, there are champions of Russia, Europe and the world, and more than seventy experienced parachutists.

The Russian Falcons give a breathtaking performance in Sukhoi fighter jets.

Approximately one hundred aircraft take part in the show. The sounds of engines and the applause of spectators accompany feats performed by Russian Armed Forces airplane and helicopter pilots, as well as solo and group acts by civilian pilots. Watching vintage aircraft fly is especially captivating. The athletes dazzle spectators with breathtaking parachute jumps and canopy relative work. Powered paragliders, motorized delta-planes, and kites are also on display. The Russian Falcons, the Russian Air Force’s aerobatics performance team, demonstrate their spectacular command of the Sukhoi fighter jets in solo and group performances.

Throughout the show visitors can admire and even touch military and civil aircraft, World War II era automobiles, other vintage cars, and bikes from motorcycle clubs. Anyone looking for a snack heads to the “field kitchen”, which offers a delicious hot dish of buckwheat groats with meat. Children enjoy fairground rides and other entertainment.

vk.com/club149949773

The festival began with a picturesque procession of historical re-enactments.

Electronic Shore

The Electronic Shore beach festival presents music, dance, and joy.

“Electronic Shore”, the much anticipated beach festival, is yet another exciting event that takes place in August. It brings together everyone who enjoys dancing, sport, delicious food, great music and good company. During the festival the beach is transformed into a massive musical, sport and entertainment venue. The organizers claim to “transport” you to Hawaii, and everything around really is Hawaiian: tanned girls in bathing suits, muscular surfers, traditional flower garlands, straw villages, surfer bikes and cars, iced cocktails, totems and fancy costumes. Just say “Aloha!”

The pool of non-Newtonian fluid at Electronic Shore beach festival. Everybody wants to walk on water!

The festival’s programme includes water polo, windsurfing, a dance-off and fancy dress swimming competition, a float fight, salsa master classes, performances by famous musicians, and entertainment for children. To make sure nobody goes hungry, the food court and market stay open all day.

All the best elements from previous festivals will be brought back this year, like the legendary Dance Battle — more than ten hours of performances by top dancers representing the most popular trends, including aerial silk dancing.

When you come to this unforgettable event, do not miss a chance to take a run through the pool of non-Newtonian fluid — this has been one of the most popular attractions at previous festivals!

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TLR

Novosibirsk Regional Tourist and Information Centre: turizm.nso.ru

Photos: aviation.complexdoc.ru / geometria.ru / catrinaproducciones.com / ladepeche.fr / marionettesinvenice.com / rusobaka.ru / turizm.nso.ru / Nikolay Enin

Rudkhan Castle

Rudkhan Castle; also Roodkhan Castle, is a brick and stone medieval fortress in Iran that was built by the Gilakis to defend against the Arab invaders during the Arab/Islamic invasion of Sassanian Iran. With the fall of the Sassanid Empire, this area became a defensive position against the Arabs in the then-newly established Tabarestan. Located 25 km southwest of Fuman city north of Iran in Gilan province, it is a military complex which had been constructed during the Sasanian era, and later rebuilt in 1096 by the Nizari Isma’ilis, for use by the Assassins The castle is built on two tips of a mount, with an area of 2.6 hectares. Its architects have benefited from natural mountainous features in the construction of the fort. The Rudkhan Castle River originates in the surrounding heights and flows from south to north. After crossing a mountainous winding route with dense forests, the first thing that one notices about the castle is its big entrance gate. Rudkhan Castle sits at the two peaks of a mountain at elevations of 715 and 670 metres and contains strong fortifications and battlements at a length of 1,550 metres. The castle’s 42 towers still stand intact.


 
مسیر قلعه رودخان
 
 
 

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