Russia Travel Guide
Russia covers a vast, almost incalculable amount of land, which could envelope the area of the United States almost twice. Four fifths of the population live in European Russia which lies west of the Ural Mountains and represents only a quarter of this massive country. Located between the North polar Sea and the Black, Northern Caucasus and Caspian seas, the Russian Federation stretches from the icy tundra of the Arctic Ocean to the Caucasus Mountains - the highest and perhaps most stunningly beautiful range in Europe. This immense land is full of contrasting scenery, from the black earth of the Steppes to the broad plains and low hills west of the Urals, there is expansive coniferous forest, uplands and mountains, not to mention the Siberian tundra all the more impressive due to itís endless scale.
Russiaís two major cities are Moscow: and St. Petersburg. Founded in 1147, Moscow, the capital of the country is full of historical reminders of Russiaís turbulent past. The whole city pivots upon Red Square on one side of which stands the Kremlin surrounded by an impressive red fortress wall containing 20 towers. The buildings are impressive, constructed from Ural marble and glass and the cathedral domes are bright gold. Around the Kremlinís Cathedral Square there are a number of cathedrals and museums to visit including the imposing St Basilís Cathedral rising up at the South end of the square. Leninís tomb is also a very popular tourist attraction, and the GUM department store with itís five kilometres of well stocked shelves. There are a good number of museums, most notably the Pushkin Fine Arts Museum with itís impressive collections of Impressionist and postimpressionist paintings. Visit the world renowned Moscow Circus or the equally famous Bolshoi Ballet. This once bleak city has developed an exciting and vibrant undercurrent without losing anything of itís rich culture.
Once the capital of Tsarist Russia for 200yrs St Petersburg, lying northwest of Moscow is spread over 42 islands in the delta of the River Neva. Filled with elegant buildings with wide boulevards, canals and bridges, it is has a less Eastern feel than Moscow. Indeed, it is described as the 'Window to the West'. For culture vultures, there is the Palace Square, the Winter Palace and the Hermitage which houses the vast treasures of the former Czars. St Petersburg has recently grown into a very popular tourist destination and has plenty to offer. Russia is a land of contrasts, itís vastness is astounding and itís major cities in the light of Post-Communism are simply fascinating.
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