Russia, although the largest country in the world, is largely unpopulated except for its western section, nearest Europe. As a result of its very isolated areas, all of the countries man-made wonders are found in its far west. They are concentrated around the two major cities of Moscow and St Petersburg. Check out my list of these fantastic wonders below and then check out my photo album.
1. Kremlin, Moscow. This massive complex on historic Red Square contains four palaces, four cathedrals and is surrounded by an imposing wall. It is also the official residence of the President of Russia. Construction began in the late 15th century and continued until 1516. Notable structures include the Grand Kremlin Palace, the Ivan the Great Bell Tower, tallest structure in the city until the Russian Revolution, and the Church of the Deposition with its superb frescoes and artwork.
2. St Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow. This distinctive cathedral, located on Red Square, is also known as the Cathedral of Intercession of the Virgin on the Moat. Its multi-colored onion domes top the structure which is really nine separate chapels on a single foundation. The church was built in the mid-1500’s, and there is no truth to the rumor that its architect was blinded by Ivan the Terrible to prevent the construction of any building to equal its beauty.
3. The Hermitage/Winter Palace, St Petersburg. This palace-turned museum is now one of the largest art museums in the world with an immense collection of especially European art, due to the fascination of the Russian Tsars with all things European. The collection began with Catherine the Great in the mid-1700’s. Now the complex consists of six (6) buildings, with the rooms of the Winter Palace a major attraction for tourists.
4. Peterhof Palace, just west of St Petersburg. This huge palace, sometimes referred to as Russia’s Versailles, was commissioned and begun in the early 18th century. Perhaps it most famous for its cascading fountains and meticulous grounds, adroned with elaborate sculptures. The palace interior is no less impressive, truly a grand and opulent residence.
5. Pushkin (Catherine) Palace, outside of St Petersburg. This Rococo masterpiece, the summer palace of the Russian Tsars thoughout the 18th century, is about 15 miles southeast of St Petersburg. Although totally destroyed by the Germans in World War II, much of the orginal has been restored. Notable rooms include the Agate rooms, the Ballroom, and the Palace Chapel.
6. Assumption (Dormition) Cathedral, Vladimir. One of the largest cathedrals in Russia, this magnificent edifice was built in the 12th century. The exterior of the church is adorned with elaborate carvings and contains five domes. The tall bell tower next to the church was added later.
7. Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood, St Petersburg. This magnificent church commemorates the assassination of Alexander II on this site in March, 1881. It resembles St Basil’s Church in Moscow (see above) with its colorful exterior and onion domes. Its interior ceiling and walls are covered in intricate mosaics, depicting Biblical scenes.
Other sites considered:
Transfiguration Cathedral, Suzdal
St Isaac’s Cathedral, St Petersburg
Menshikov Palace, St Petersburg
Pavlovsk Palace, outside of St Petersburg