Russia is one of the most fascinating countries in the world. Though yet to become a developed tourist country, it has tremendous natural beauty, diversity and historical and cultural traditions.
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The national language is Russian, which is a Slavic language related to Polish, Czech, Slovak, Bulgarian and some others. The best way to travel and avoid traffic jams is to use the subway called the Metro.
The system is clean and inexpensive and many of the stations are architectural masterpieces. Besides the two major cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg, there are many other cities and villages with splendid architectural and cultural traditions here.
Cities of the "Golden Ring" close to the capital are Suzdal, Vladimir, Kostroma, Ivanovo, Sergiev Posad, Rostov Veliky, Yaroslavl and Pereslavl Zalessky.
The capital of the Russian Federation - Moscow - is a unique combination of attractions that gives you the opportunity to get acquainted with the traditions of the Russian people.
The Kremlin is the historical center of Moscow with its cathedrals, monasteries, fortresses and preserved boyar's palaces. It demonstrates the unique culture and art of the late Middle Ages in Russia.
The blend of the old and the new in Moscow is most apparent in the Red Square and in the Kremlin. The Square, with its landmark St. Basil's Cathedral, is the center of the world's attention because of the impressive May Day parades and anniversary of the Revolution on November 7. Magnificent cathedrals highlight the Kremlin.
The famous Armoury Chamber, a museum of Russia's regal past, the Diamond Fund Collection and the
Russian Crown Jewels are all located in the Kremlin. The Kremlin is the seat of the Russian
government. Its famous Palace of Congresses is open to the public for artistic performances.
Among the most famous museums in Moscow are the Tretyakov Gallery housing collections of Russian art, and the Pushkin Fine Art Museum, with its wondrous collections of Western art. The television tower at Ostankino offers a splendid view of the city.
The Moscow State University overlooks the Moskva River, and near it are the Sparrow Hills that are a favorite spot for photographs. For countryside excursions a full day trip to Sergiev Posad, formerly Zagorsk, where the Russian Orthodox Church keeps alive centuries-old traditions at an Orthodox seminary and at the services of its cathedrals is enjoyable. Plan a trip to Suzdal, a city preserved as a museum of Russian architecture for a glimpse of Old Russia.
The city of St. Petersburg was created by the Russian Tsar Peter the Great in the 18th century as a "window to Europe". It soon became the capital and architectural showpiece of the Russian Empire. St. Petersburg was called Leningrad during Soviet times. Criss-crossed by many canals, it is a true "Venice of the North."
St. Petersburg has a wealth of attractions: Palace Square, the Winter Palace, the Peter and Paul Cathedral - the resting place of the Romanov emperors - the Peter and Paul Fortress where the writer Dostoevsky and other leading intellectuals were once imprisoned, and the Russian Mint.
The Hermitage rivals the Louvre in Paris for its rich collection of art and should not be missed by any tourist. You could try visiting other residences of the tsarist family - Peter the Great's country palace with its magnificent park and fountains, or the houses at Pushkino and Pavlovsk.