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Russian Culture To Do in Moscow To Do in Saint-Petersburg Top Travelers Advices Traveling in Russia

3 reasons why to do dog-trekking in Russia (in Moscow and in Saint-Petersburg)

What is dog-trekking?

Dog-trekking in Moscow
Dog-trekking in Moscow

 

Dog-trekking becomes more popular every year amongst nature and animal lovers especially, who want to combine their passions for fresh air, natural landscapes and interaction with animals together. So, basically dog-trekking is an activity when a dog is strapped to one’s back with a rope and together with a dog you go for a walk in the nature – to the forest or alongside the river bank. The dogs are taking people for a walk actually as they are the ones guiding trough the nature. Hereunder you may find 3 good reasons why to do dog-trekking in Russia this summer or every other summer possible:

Trekking in the Nature in Moscow
Trekking in the Nature in Moscow

 

  • To enjoy natural landscapes

For more than anything else, dog-trekking is famous for the opportunity it gives to enjoy the nature. Dog-trekking is usually done in the most beautiful and picturesque places of an area. In Moscow, for instance, where we do our Tsar Visit dog-trekking + kayaking tour, people walk alongside the Moscow River and they can see the unique rope bridge and enjoy cool summer winds from the river. Also, people go through the forest with different fresh water streams and flower fields.

Dog-trekking in Saint-Petersburg
Dog-trekking in Saint-Petersburg

 

  • To meet husky dogs of 4 northern breeds

Dog-trekking is an activity that is focused on dogs – main protagonists. In Russia the dogs’ breed is naturally husky – Siberian huskies, Alaskan huskies, Laikas and Malamuts. These dogs have an absolute love for humans and they are happy to play and hug with you. Tsar Visit dog-trekking tour usually begins with meeting all the dogs and playing with them. After this unforgettable moment with all the huskies, you will be able to choose one dog with who you would like to go trekking in the forest!

 

Kayaking on Moscow River after dog-trekking
Kayaking on Moscow River after dog-trekking

 

  • To do sports while trekking with husky dogs

What you should know about dog-trekking is that it is more than just a walk – it is a sports activity. Although it requires no special preparation and no special abilities, you still have to be prepared for doing sports. 5-km route that we propose on Tsar Visit in Moscow and in St. Petersburg contains various parts that require some speed and balance. Moreover, huskies are a strong and extremely active breed, so you must be very focused during the trip. Also, in Moscow you may add kayaking to your tour and your route will be 6-km of dog-trekking and 6-km back on kayaks with professional instructors. In Saint Petersburg after the dog-trekking tour you will be able to do some rowboat riding on a wonderful lake!

Rowboat riding on the lake in St. Petersburg
Rowboat riding on the lake in St. Petersburg

 

To sum up, dog-trekking is a very new, but already extremely popular activity in Russia. Both in Moscow and in St. Petersburg it is famous for being a great opportunity to spend time on fresh air observing beautiful natural landscapes, reuniting with animals, studying about husky breed and doing sports at the same time!

Dog-Trekking in Russia
Dog-Trekking in Russia

 

We definitely recommend you to go for it and if you do, you will cherish those memories forever!

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Russian Culture To Do in Moscow Top Travelers Advices Traveling in Russia

Top 3 best parks to enjoy summer in Moscow in 2020

If you wonder what parks to visit in Moscow in 2020 and spend an amazing time outside, hereunder you find the best answer.

Parks of culture and leisure became a real thing in 2010s when Moscow government decided to invest money in landscape gardening of the city and its image of a “green capital”. Right now, in Moscow parks are the most popular places to hang out for the full day with lots of activities: walking, cycling, playing basketball and volleyball, laying on the grass and having a picnic etc. If you don’t know where to go on weekend in Moscow – parks are best options to spend time.

Gorky Park in Moscow
Gorky Park in Moscow

 

Hereunder you will find the 3 best parks to visit in Moscow:

  • Gorky Park of Culture and Leisure

Gorky Park is the most famous park in Moscow, about which you could have heard in the song “Wind of Change” by Scorpions. Back in the days it was an amusement park with biggest rollercoasters in Eastern Europe. Nowadays this park is loved by hipsters, youngsters and families for its number of activities. In Gorky Park you can practice sports like basketball and volleyball on pitches made by biggest sports brands Nike and Adidas. You can do yoga classes, dancing classes and many more. What to eat while in Gorky Park? In food-courts, of course! There are a lot of different restaurants with numerous cuisines – Greek, Chinese, Thai, Italian and Russian. We recommend you to sit on the terrace near the Moscow River bench and enjoy the moment. Also, in Gorky Park you may go to a concert or a show, which are held almost every day!

If you want to know what is Gorky Park and how it changed the image of Moscow, follow Leo, young French journalist and guide living in Moscow for his Gorky Park private tour, during which you discover the history of this place, walk around best sights and get to know how to spend great time on fresh air in in Moscow.

address: Krymsky Val, 9

open 24 hours a day

Center of Gorky Park in Moscow
Central Fountain of Gorky Park in Moscow

 

  • Zaryadye Park

The most recently opened park now in Moscow is Zaryadye Park right in the heart of the capital near Red Square and Kremlin.

Park Zaryadye in Moscow has numerous installations, created by very famous Russian artists, and many things to visit – the Ice Cave made of 70 tons of frozen water, Florarium with more than 200 plant species, Media Center with interactive walls and floor to watch stunning 360-degrees videos, etc.

Zaryadye Park in Moscow
Zaryadye Park in Moscow

 

But the most symbolic and impressive sight in Zaryadye is definitely the River Overlook Footbridge from which you can amazing views on Kitay-Gorod, Kremlin, St.Basil’s Cathedral and Stalin Towers.

River Overlook Footbridge in Zaryadye Park
River Overlook Footbridge in Zaryadye Park

 

If you want to discover more Zaryadye Park with Kremlin and Red Square, take part in Walking Tour in the Center of Moscow of Tsar Visit and explore Moscow deeper with professional guide.

address: Ulitsa Varvarka 6, building 1

open 24 hours a day

  • VDNKh Park

VDNKh Park (or VDNH, which stands for Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy) in Ostankino District of Moscow is at the moment the biggest and the most developed park in Russia.

If you want to receive all at once – VDNKh park is the best choice. It contains a lot of worldwide famous symbols of Russia and USSR – pavilions of former USSR republics, the People’s Friendship Fountain, Ostankino TV tower, Moscow Monorail and Museum of Cosmonautics.

Ostankino Tower in VDNKh park in Moscow
Ostankino Tower in VDNKh park in Moscow

 

VDNKh Park was recently renewed and now it has one of the biggest Aquariums in Europe with more than 12000 water animals. In VDNKh you can play any sports, rent a bike or a scooter, walk the eco-trail, go climbing or do yoga.

VDNKh Park in Moscow
VDNKh Park in Moscow

 

If you want to explore VDNKh Park fully, join the tour of VDNKh and Cosmonautics Museum by Tsar Visit and learn about these impressive sights with a professional private guide.

address: Prospekt Mira, 119

open 24 hours a day

Cosmonautics Museum in VDNKh Park
Cosmonautics Museum in VDNKh Park

 

All in all, in Moscow more than anywhere else in the world, parks are sights definitely worth visiting. They contain a lot of worldwide famous attractions and they keep developing every day. If you want to know Moscow better and to spend amazing time in Russia – visit the famous capital parks.

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Russian Culture To Do in Moscow Travelers Advices Uncategorized

Top 5 best food markets in Moscow in 2020

If you wonder where to eat in Moscow, here is the best answer: in food markets!

Food markets are food-courts with a large number of different restaurants representing various cuisines of the world and of Russia. They provide both high-quality street food and more unique options. Usually you choose a restaurant you like by walking around and exploring various options to eat. Then you order food and sit in the middle of a court to have lunch or dinner.

Hereunder you will find the 5 best food markets in Moscow, so you can choose the one you would like to discover:

  • Central Market (Tsentralniy Rynok)

Back in 1840s, Central Market became the largest craft-market of Moscow. In 2017 it was fully reconstructed and opened to public as the food market that we now know. On the lower floor you can buy fresh food, while on the ground floor you may find more than 40 different street food restaurants with various cuisines – Korean, Lebanese, Italian, Georgian and a lot more. Of course, traditional Russian cuisine is also present in Central Market.

If you want to know what is traditional Russian food and how to cook Russian food, take part in a food tour of Tsar Visit, during which you discover best places to try Russian cuisine and get to know food traditions.

address: Rozdestvensky Bulvar, 1

open daily: 08:00 – 00:00

Central Market (Tsentralniy Rynok) in Moscow
Central Market in Moscow
  • Danilovsky Market (Danilovsky Rynok)

The main conception of Danilovsky Market is that fresh natural products and street food restaurants are combined. If you are a group of friends or a family and you want to have a big choice of food – this is the right place. Danilovsky Market presents more than 35 cuisines from different countries – French, Vietnamese, Korean, Dagestani, Uzbek and many more. If you are living in Moscow and want to buy fresh products of great quality, local producers of meat, vegetables, cheese or fishes are present in Danilovsky. Prices can be pretty high, but the quality is probably the best in Moscow. For tourists looking forward to buying caviar in Russia, you’ll find a wide variety in Danilovsky market.

If you want to discover this market in a unique way, follow Leo, young French journalist and guide living in Moscow. During his food tour, Leo shows you what is famous Russian food, Georgian cuisine and he also explains why Danilovsky district is so famous.

address: Mytnaya Ulitsa, 74

open daily: 08:00 – 21:00

Danilovsky Market in Moscow
Danilovsky Market in Moscow
  • Around the World (Vokrug Sveta)

If you are visiting Moscow as a tourist, you will definitely pass by Red Square – main sight of Moscow, and probably visit the Kremlin and St.Basil’s Cathedral. And, of course, after long walks you’ll get hungry. The food market Vokrug Sveta (in English “Around the World”) is located just 400 meters from the Red Square, on Nikolskaya Street – the most popular street in Russia during FIFA World Cup 2018. Vokrug Sveta is the place where Asian, American and local cuisines are mixed. You will have more than 20 restaurants to choose from and a great court to sit and enjoy your lunch. On top of that, Vokrug Sveta was created by the best restaurateur in Russia, the worldwide known Arkadiy Novikov.

address: Nikolskaya Street, 10

open daily 11:00 – 23:00

Georgian Traditional cuisine
Georgian Traditional cuisine
  • Depo Moscow

Depo Food Market is the most recent add-on to Moscow food map and it is the biggest food court in Europe. Depo has more than 75 restaurants inside and cuisines are very different – Azerbaijani and Greek, Chinese and Russian, Vietnamese and Armenian etc. Also, Depo is very popular for having different concerts and shows every day. It’s a very popular place among Moscow’s population, it can get very crowded on weekends.

address: Lesnaya ulitsa, 20 building 3

open daily: 10:00 – 23:00

Depo Food Market in Moscow
Depo Food Market in Moscow
  • Food Market 21

Food Market 21 is located on the famous New Arbat Street and it is one of the most popular food markets among young people as it is located near the best Stand-Up Comedy club. On the New Arbat Street, there are a lot of bars and clubs to continue the evening. Also, apart from numerous restaurants inside, Food Market 21 has a big terrace where you can enjoy fresh air and music or smoke shisha. Like in all the other markets, you’ll find a very diverse gastronomic offer.

address: New Arbat, 21

open daily: 12:00 – 00:00

Like the city of Moscow in general, the gastronomic scene is growing and developing very fast. New food courts and markets are opening constantly, and you’ll always find great places to eat while travelling to the Russian capital.

If you want to know what is Russian cuisine and how to cook Russian food, hereunder you can find the list of unique gastronomic tours proposed by Tsar Visit:

Traditional French-Russian dinner at locals
Traditional French-Russian dinner at locals
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Did you know? Russian Culture To Do in Moscow To Do in Saint-Petersburg

5 reasons to visit and try famous Russian Sauna in 2020

It is probable that at least once in your lifetime you have heard about Russian Sauna, or so called “banya” and its traditions. It was created long time ago and converted into a real cultural phenomenon with its own rules. Let us give 5 good reasons to try genuine Russian Banya in 2020:

1. Try an activity that has 2500 y.o. How was the banya created?

The origins of the banya date back to the 5th century BC. We trace its birth in Ukraine, where the banya was made of pieces of wood used as a structure to hold a felt cloth. At the middle of this space was a kettle filled with water where heated rocks were plunged.  Slowly, this sauna culture became a part of the Slavic life. It was celebrating religious events and family traditional holidays such as birthdays and weddings.

Banya was accessible for the richest and the poorest. The richest had their own banya area allowing them to have more comfort and privacy. The poorest who did not own a banya, heated their ovens and wet the walls of their houses to create a slight sensation of humidity.

The access to the banya became widely democratized thereafter. Common and public spaces were created to bring the entire population together in one place. Luxury banyas were opened for the richest, such as Sanduny Baths in Moscow, for example. These spaces offered to their customers exceptional furniture and more comfort as well as better customer services.

Sanduny Baths - Moscow
Spectacular Sanduny Baths – Moscow

2. Learn how to do the Russian Sauna and teach your friends!

As Russian Sauna is a real tradition, it has to be done the good way. Today the banya is composed of a wooden space with a wood-burning stove. It is important to prepare the banya in advance so that it can be very hot. When the temperature reaches between 80-100 C degrees, you can begin the activity.

Put on your bathing suit and sit on one of the benches along the wall of the banya. Watch out! The higher you sit, the hotter you’ll get! So, if you’re not sure you can stand the heat, start by sitting on the lower bench. Once on your bench, you can sprinkle water with essential oils on the hot stones placed above the stove to warm and humidify the room.

Shake your towel over your head if you want the heat to circulate in the banya.

A session lasts between 5 and 15 minutes, depending on your resistance to heat. As the banya is much hotter, the sessions are shorter than those in a classic sauna.

The goal at the end of the session is to cause a thermal shock to your body. You can jump in the cold pool, or spill the bucket with cold water on your head or, if you are in winter, roll in the snow or jump into a frozen lake.

Cold jump after banya
Jump into a frozen lake after Banya session in winter

3. The benefits of Russian Sauna

The advantages of the banya are worldwide known and confirmed by specialists:

  • From inside: it cleans the body by eliminating toxins
  • From outside: it removes dead skin and cleans pores
  • Russian Sauna is the best cure to insomnia and daily anxiety
  • Banya helps human lungs to recharge and work better

The extreme change in temperature also allows the body to gain strength and develops the immune system. There’s no doubt that after a banya session you’ll sleep like a baby!

Russian Banya with friends in winter
Russian Banya with friends in winter

4. The reason why Russian Banya should be done in groups of friends or with family

Visiting Russian Sauna is highly recommended to do with closest friends or family. Banya is, all in all, a limited space where you are almost naked.

Between each session, it is common to get together to drink tea and eat some fruits or to drink cold beer with snacks while playing cards or just chatting.

According to lots of stories, in business, many contracts are discussed and signed in banya and the agreement is usually concluded by drinking one shot of vodka! In Russia businessmen and political figures are usually going to the Russian Sauna together, in order to discuss important matters in complete privacy.

If you travel to Russia, it’s a legendary activity to organize with your family or friends! Don’t hesitate to check our traditional banya tour !

5. Russian Sauna = connection with Nature. Why is Russian banya so priceless?

If Russians regularly practice banya, it is also because it allows them to reconnect with nature and put everyday worries aside. In St. Petersburg, we can organize for you a traditional banya in the forest, after a dog-trekking hike!

Banya is practiced naked and people are surrounded by the simplest elements of nature: wood, heat, water, snow, stones… Banya is considered to be a way to enjoy the wonders that nature offers to recharge one’s batteries.

Russians also have a tradition of whipping themselves with bouquets made of birch or oak branches. This bouquet is called “Venik”. It is plunged in a bucket of cold water and then used to whip itself. This process has many benefits:

  • Reactivates blood circulation: because of the heat, the vessels are “asleep”. Whipping them with the Venik – reactivates.
  • Accelerates sweating: the contact of the Venik on the skin activates perspiration.
  • Removes dead skin: the contact of the leaves and branches will allow the dead skin to peel off.
  • Venik process is not painful. Vice versa, it feels amazing – especially after!
Banya Tour - Russia
Doing Russian Sauna with Venik

You want to try banya when travelling to Russia? Book your tour with us on www.tsarvisit.com !

 

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Russian Culture To Do in Moscow To Do in Saint-Petersburg Traveling in Russia

SIBERIAN HUSKIES: dogs or wolves?

The belief that Siberian Huskies are a breed of wolves is widely spread. But is this theory a myth that has passed down through the centuries or is it a reality?

Where are Siberian Huskies coming from ?

To find the origins of Siberian Huskies, we have to travel back in time in a legendary Russian region: Siberia.

We found the track of the first huskies thanks to the Chukchi, inhabitants of the extreme Russian East, who used huskies for many purposes:

  • To haul the heavy sleds of the inhabitants: strapped together, huskies are physically strong and able to carry heavy loads such as blocks of ice or people on sleds
  • Alert the inhabitants: in case of danger or intrusion in the village, the huskies had a role of warning the population
  • Look after children: as they are a loving animal, huskies had to watch over children while they were playing and sleep with them to warm them up during cold winters 

For the Chukchi people, the true origin of huskies is related to an ancestral legend. Siberian Huskies would be the result of the union between a wolf and the moon. To them, it explains the close appearance between huskies and wolves and their tail with a moon crescent shape.

A Siberian shaman performing – Russia

Siberian huskies became famous thanks to the mythical All Alaska Sweepstake, a sledding competition that was taking place from 1908 to 1917. In 1910, a Siberian Husky crew reached the third place for the first time, competing with crews traditionally composed of Alaskan Malamute only. After that, sled leaders begun to compose their sleds only with Siberian huskies… and their efficiency didn’t have to be proven anymore as they were always winning the competition.

What makes Siberian huskies unique ?

The appearance of Siberian Huskies may be often misleading. Indeed, many breeds look similar and we can confuse them with Alaskan Huskies. The Siberian Husky is also considered as a “dog-wolf” as he shares many features with his cousin, but it is easy to recognise a true Siberian Husky thanks to some details. 

Firstly, the Siberian Husky has a large fur, which can go from black to white or brown. As the dog sheds his fur twice a year, it is possible to follow him thanks to his lost hair!

Secondly, Siberian huskies are recognisable thanks to some distinctive features:

  • Eyes: they are almond shaped, they can be blue, brown or both colors !
  • Body: the body is slim, well proportioned and has a sporty look
  • Face: He has a round face that gets sharpened to the level of the nose.
Russia - Huskies
Siberian Huskies – Russia

Where to meet Siberian Huskies in Russia ?

Nowadays, it’s very easy to meet Siberian Huskies! We mostly find them in specialized farms (kennels) where they are correctly fed and trained. In these farms, they receive all the care they need, and many visitors are coming to meet them. Such farms are located all around Russia, near main cities, like Moscow or St. Petersburg.

This dog needs to move and to live in large spaces in which he can let off steam. He is not a dog that tolerates confinement and requires at least two hours of activity per day! Sporty by nature, he likes to hike in summer in the wild plains, mountains or forest. 

Because of this, dog-trekking is gaining popularity in Russia. The concept: a dog is strapped to you through a special belt, and you go hiking together. The dog is the guide and leads the way! This is a fantastic experience for dog and nature lovers. If you spend summer in Russia and want to try it, do not hesitate to check our dog-trekking tours in Moscow or St. Petersburg.

Russia - Huskies
Dog-trekking with Siberian Huskies in summer – Russia

Siberian Huskies are mostly famous for surviving to very diverse temperatures. With their thick fur, they are used to run in the snow by very low temperatures (sometimes below – 40° C!), and feel better in winter than during hot summers. Their fur protects them from the cold, which is needed for dog-sledding runs. Although they are very resistant to the snow, mushers are more and more equipping them with booties to protect their paws. In Russia, you may find a lot of farms to practice dogsledding, a must-do when traveling in Russia in winter! You can check our dog-sledding tours in Moscow or St. Petersburg here.

Russia - Huskies
Dog-sledding with Siberian Huskies

So, are Siberian huskies closer to the dog or the wolf ?

Siberian Huskies are definitely not wolves! They are a unique dog breed which shares a true love for human. They have a huge loyalty towards their master. They are very sensitive and perceive their owner feelings. They are very attached to their team and their strength make them the perfect fellow traveller.

If you want to meet Siberian Huskies while traveling in Russia : do not hesitate to contact us!

 

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Russian Art To Do in Moscow

Moscow Modern Art

Touristic routes in Moscow lead you to the classic places like the Kremlin, Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Red Square and Tretyakov gallery. Of course, those spots are must see and there’s no way you should avoid them. No doubt that nowadays tourists are also interested in the modern art: contemporary exhibitions, electronic music, graffiti, light performances. Luckily, Moscow has much to show. In recent years, plenty of contemporary art museums and clusters appeared in the capital. Let’s have a walk around them!

There are several spots in Moscow, which are oversaturated by modern art, but as the city is really big, they are unfortunately not accessible by feet, so feel free to use metro each time you wanna move from one spot to another.

1) Area of Gorky Park and Muzeon Park

Gorky and Muzeon Parks are the center of youth culture and leisure in Moscow (mostly in summer). Here, two huge modern art museums are situated. First is a new Tretyakov Gallery (more 20th century art) and the GARAGE museum in Gorky Park. Muzeon also has a permanent sculpture exposition which, of course, you can fully enjoy in the summer time. From time to time Gorky Park also hosts different cultural events. Guess when? … Exactly, in summer!

Access: metro Oktyabrskaya (orange line and circle line) or Park Kultury (red line and circle line)

Picture: Moscow - Muzeon Park and Peter the Great Memorial (c) Shutterstock
Muzeon Park and Peter the Great Memorial

2) Kropotkinskaya district

The metro station of Kropotkinskaya is surrounded by plenty of museums. This is the so-called “Art district” of Moscow. There, you find the Pushkin Art museum, Glazunov gallery, Percov house, and many more. You may not only find classical museums over there, in fact this area also hosts 3 important museums for Russian modern art.

The first one is the Multimedia Art Museum (MAMM). A key museum in the field of modern art. It is not only an exhibition building, but also a study and research platform.

Address: 16 Ostozhenka street, Moscow

The second is the center of photography of Lumiere Brothers. This modern art museum is located in the party center of Moscow – Krasny Oktyabr. It takes some time to get there, but on your way, you will pass by very picturesque sights as Saint Savior Cathedral and Patriarchy bridge. The hall always hosts very interesting exhibitions, that are worth to go.

Address: 3 Bolotnaya embankment, Moscow

And last but not the least the main building of Modern Art Museum of Moscow (MMOMA). The buildings of this museum are also near the Patriarchy Ponds and Tverskoy Boulevard, but the main one is here on Gogolevsky Boulevard. The exposition of this museum is very often becoming a scandal. But scandals are the most attractive, aren’t them?

Address: 10 Gogolevsky boulevard, Moscow

3) Kurskaya district

In the 90s, Kurskaya was an ugly area with railway station, homeless people and factories. But since the late 2000s the situation has absolutely changed. Moscow government gave this area for the artists and designers, so now old factories turned to art clusters and homeless people were replaced by hipsters. So, several places you must visit:

  • Artplay – art and design cluster situated 7 minutes walking from Kurskaya metro station. There you may find: design boutiques, cool cafes of vegan food or burgers, British Higher school of Art and Design, which organizes plenty of exhibitions of its students, art galleries.
  • Vinzavod – old wine factory which now hosts the show rooms, design boutiques and plenty of exhibitions.
  • Pluton – new place on the map of modern art lovers. The place isn’t fully renovated yet, but there is one of the best techno clubs in Moscow.
  • ARMA – this place is situated on the opposite side of the places mentioned above, from Kurskaya station. The area of old manufactures now looks like an urban heaven. A lot of showrooms, clubs, galleries and modern theaters are taking place there. So, don’t miss a chance to visit it to enjoy Moscow with its casual lifestyle.

Here are our tips for you! Enjoy Moscow!

Want to know more about Russia? Read more on our Travel Blog!
Want to book a guided-tour? Check out Tsar Visit!

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Cultural Fact Did you know? Russian Culture Top Travelers Advices Traveling in Russia

Hidden places of St. Petersburg

Saint-Petersburg is full of surprises… From surprisingly beautiful sights to surprisingly small prices. You will enjoy this city even if you visit just the main tourist attractions, but believe us, a lot of amazing places are hidden on those streets..

Here is our top!

  • Nelson yard
Picture: Nelson Yard, Saint-Petersburg
Dvor Nelsona, Polozova Ulitsa, 6, St Petersburg

Bard Nelson fought gray routine and created in the yard area of the house on a small Polozov street a bright colorful atmosphere. The musician managed to create the most amazing courtyard of the Petrograd side with the help of a spray paint, applying imagination and using all the trash that had been gathering dust on the mezzanine for many years.

  • Chufalnya on Aprashka Market
5
Chifanka (Chufalnya), Sadovaya Street, 28, St. Petersburg

” Chufalnya ” is in the third house on the right, if you go on Apraksin Market through the gate with Apraksino lane. Here, as before, (in 90s) the authenticity is turned to the maximum: the owners and cooks are Chinese, the wall menu with touching mistakes in translation, the complete lack of interior, ridiculous prices and a whole rack of Chinese goods — from bamboo rugs to wood mushrooms. However, because of the increased attention on the part of students and fashionistas the titular nation in the room appears in a noticeable minority and the place is becoming not that unknown.

  • Kabinet bar
4
Kabinet, Malaya Sadovaya Street, 8, St Petersburg

The establishment of the famous bartender in the city is made in the style of a closed poker club or an illegal casino of the 30s. Entrance to the” Kabinet ” is through the diner Grill Brothers: you need to find the door with the inscription” only for staff ” and go down the stairs to the basement. However, to get to the bar itself is possible only upon prior reservation, contacts for which you have to search in social networks under the hashtag #вкабинетпожалуйста.

  • The house of Buck
2
Kirochnaya Ulitsa, 24, St. Petersburg (currently in restoration)

Apartment house of Buck, whose name has become an integral part of the name of the building, is interesting from all sides: its amazing facade is one of the dominants of Kirochnaya street, in the front it is still preserved part of the interior decoration, which can be judged on the solvency of the former tenants. Unfortunately, the house of Buck is in a depressing condition, but also on the dirty marble stairs, broken in places stained glass, apartments, first 15-room, but later given to the communal, as well as dusty twisted railing bars can restore the image of the former splendor of the house.

  • Rotunda
3
Fontanka River Embankment, 81, St. Petersburg (Gorokhovaya Street, 57А, St Petersburg)

In the house on the corner of Gorokhovaya street and Fontanka embankment you can find the most mystical city object — Rotunda. The house is not noticeable, it is a typical structure for St. Petersburg. It’s all about the Rotunda — a round building with six free-standing columns. The curves of the walls repeat the stairs, as if striving endlessly upwards. The rotunda received the title of a cult place in the 70-80s of the last century – the time of the emergence of informal movements among the Soviet youth. Representatives of different subcultures gathered here — rockers, hippies, punks.

Want to know more about Russia? Read more on our Travel Blog!
Want to book a guided-tour? Check out Tsar Visit!

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Did you know?

The Space Race

From 1957 to 1975 the United States and the Soviet Union fought a war without bullets (but still with deaths). It was the race for space, a competition not only for the control of space but a real clash between two ideologies. In less than 20 years, humanity was able to go out of its birthplace and dream of space conquest. Quite ironically, peace greatly slowed this race for the star. Let’s dive into this adventure made of heroes and engineers, “поехали!”(“let’s go”) like Gagarin said before the flight that made him famous.

Probably one the most exciting adventure of the XXst century. The Space race took place between the United States and the Soviet Union. It was a competition between Engineers and scientists of both sides, and it all started… from the military. Both countries were looking for new ways to send each other some nukes. Their research programs were inspired by the Germans V2 weapons of the Second World War (and they also “took” some of the German scientists wo made it to work on their respective project). Sending satellites was already in the boxes for a long time, but the cost of it was often dissuading (and they didn’t see any strategic advantages).

But it all changes the 4th of October 1957, in the newly built base of Baïkonur in nowadays Kazakhstan. The team of Korolev had been working on intercontinental ballistic missile launchers, and it’s using one of those that they launched the first artificial satellite from earth, Sputnik-1 (which means “companion” or “satellite”). The repercussion, both political and on the opinion, were colossal. The excitement of this success in the USSR was comparable to the deception felt in the USA. The first battle of this war was a Soviet victory. This first satellite had very basic instruments on-bor$ard, mainly to measure things like temperature or pressure.

Sputnik_asm
Copy of Sputnik-1 the first artificial satellite

The Soviet did it again one month later by sending the first being in orbit, Laika, a female dog. Unfortunately for her, this satellite was quickly made to celebrate the 40th birthday of the revolution, and she died, probably of heat due to some misconception, inside the satellite during the flight. Nevertheless, it showed that inhabited flight was possible. The following years the two superpowers invested massively in space exploration and both got several achievements.

On the 12th of April 1961, The USSR bit the USA a second time by sending the first human into space (and bringing him alive by the way). Youri Gagarin then became a national and international hero. The test pilot was chosen among several other pilots for… being small (1.60 m). And I still don’t know why they needed a pilot since he did more or less no piloting, everything was commanded from Baikonur. For the anecdote, he didn’t land with his capsule but was ejected 7 km above the earth and continued with a parachute. Becoming a hero in a few days, he was forbidden to fly, fearing he would die in a crash… Which he unfortunately did, he convinced his chef to let him flight again and die 7 years later in the crash of his Mig-15.

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From left to right Pavel Popovitch, Youri Gagarin and Valentina Tereshkova (first woman in space)

Did you know? There are two different words to designate people traveling in space in Russian and in English, respectively cosmonaut and astronaut (and now way for Europeans, Chinese and Indians). It’s the only work that uses different terms depending on the nationality of the person. Ironic considering that space is literally borderless.

Death is also a part of this race. You already know Laika, the first animal to go to space, many other dogs died for space exploration. And in 1967, for the first inhabited flight of the Soyuz spacecraft (further versions of this spacecraft are still used to service the International Space Station), it had a problem while re-entering the atmosphere and crashed at full speed, killing the Cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov. He is the human to die during a space mission. One of the reasons for this tragedy is the haste of the Soviets in order to stay ahead of the Americans.

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Soyuz 19, during the Apollo-Soyuz mission, Spacecraft from Soyuz family are still used today

The first real failure for the Soviet Union happened when Neil Armstrong became the first human to walk on the moon. The success of the Apollo mission was a kind of revenge for Sputnik. Nevertheless, the race continued, and after the first man on the moon, the Soviet sent the first robot (and the expertise gained will then be used in other circumstances, especially during the Chernobyl catastrophe). They also launched the first orbital station “Salyut 1”, which paved the way to the International Space Station.

The “Space Race” officially ends in July 1975 with the Apollo-Soyuz mission. A co-joined mission of the two great powers, two spaceships, one American and the other Soviet, docked in space. The crews exchanged gifts and visited each others spacecraft. They conducted scientific experiments and spoke in each other language.

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From left to right: the Americans Slayton, Stafford et Brand, and the Soviets Leonov et Kubasov

With the success of the co-joint mission started a kind of cooperation (they were still enemies, but a bit less). During this time, new space powers emerge such as Europe (European in space are called Spacionauts) or China (Chinese in space are called Taikonaut). If you want to learn more about all those great deeds and way more, you should visit the Museum of Cosmonautics in Moscow, there you can find different reproductions of satellites and rockets and even a real size Soyuz spacecraft!

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Cultural Fact

Rasputin

Before being this good song by Boney M, Rasputin was a man, a priest, a healer, a prophet… or a sinner, a charlatan, a liar, a spy… In a good or in a bad way, he always made a very strong impression on the people he met (especially the ladies of the court apparently). Adored by the imperial family, hated both by the nobility and the Soviet regime, this character is still fascinating nowadays. Have you ever wondered who was this man? How did he become so famous that he got his own song? So put on your headphones and listen to it while I tell you the story (and legend) of ‘The Mad Monk’ Rasputin.

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A Photo of Grigori Rasputin (source: Wikicommons)

Grigori Efimovitch Rasputin is probably born around the year 1869 in Pokrovskoye, a small town in Siberia. He got interested in the Bible very early, and he made several pilgrimages. He was known for having some mystical powers such as prediction but most importantly a healing gift.

This gift brought him to St Petersburg. The Tsarevitch Alexei is hemophiliac (a blood illness that can make any bleeding mortal) and in this time, doctors were powerless against this illness. Introduced to the family by nobles he met during his pilgrimages, he was able to calm the Tsarevitch pain after he got hurt. It impresses the imperial family so much that they decided to keep the monk with them since he seemed to be the only one able to calm their son’s pain. His “powers” were probably a mix between his extraordinary charisma and … defying the doctors by preventing the patient to take aspirin an anticoagulant (they didn’t know it then) making the disease even worse. Progresses were made till then so if you are hemophiliac no need for a strange Siberian monk!

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Nicolas II, his wife Alexandra Fedorovna, their 5 children (source: Wikicommons)

Rasputin became a very important counselor of the imperial family and an attraction for the capital’s elite (especially with women ). This charismatic character really made an impression on everyone he met, his eyes were said to be fascinating and even hypnotizing. His political views, pleading for peace, and its… let’s say… quite immoral behavior, made him many enemies amongst the nobility. After the start of the first World War he was seen as a danger for Russia as well as the Tsarina who had German origins.

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Another photo of Grigori Rasputin (source: Wikicommons)

 

His death is certainly the most controversial part of his story. It’s hard to know where the legend starts. He was killed by a conspiracy of monarchists who disliked the influence he had on the Tsar and feared he would bring him to make peace with Germany. Felix Yusupov, one of the richest noble of St Petersburg, invited him to his Palace (by the way you can visit it with a guide just here). He was given poisoned food and wine but it did not seem to affect him, they hence shot him. Seeing that the monk was still not dead, they beat him up, shot him several times (again), wrapped him into some piece of clothes to throw him into the river. His body was found a few days later, a doctor who examined the body claimed that he didn’t die because of the poison nor the gunshot but by drowning (Russian Die Hard).

As cool and incredible this story is, it is probably false. The doctor who gave the poison later said he gave some harmless product because he had remorses. The doctor who examined the body also remade his statement saying that most of the contusions and wounds were made post-mortem (meaning he was already dead when they threw him into the river).

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Caricature of an “Evil” Rasputin – 1916 (Source: Wikicommons)

 

Another very important part of his legend is the letter he wrote and in which he predicted his death, and with it the death of the imperial family within two years!!! (he died in 1916 and the imperial family was killed in 1918 in Ekaterinburg) This is another mystical stuff but let’s focus on the most important… he may not have written it!!! Again? you would say. So what’s the point with this guy if nothing is true? I’ll answer you that it’s how a legend works, no one knows the truth, but it could be true.

With the fall of the monarchy and the rise to power of the Bolsheviks, Rasputin was used as the symbol of the moral decay of the Tsars. They greatly participated in the edification of the myth of the “mad monk”.

 

Now that you know more about this central character of Russian history why not come to Russia and visit the places he has been! Book your guided tour on Tsar Visit!

Categories
Cultural Fact

Russian contemporary art

Russian art and artistic life are mainly known for the imperial architecture, the classic music and literature and the Soviet modern art. More, Russia is often seen as a country where contemporary culture doesn’t exist. It couldn’t be more wrong. Indeed the Russian contemporary artistic life is rich, diversified and of high quality! However it’s true that Russian contemporary is most of the time a bit hidden. Why? First because it rarely (and very sadly) goes out of the country due to a clichés and low interest from foreigners (bad). Second because Russian contemporary art isn’t about gigantism or pop art (yes I despised Jeff Koons). But missing Russian contemporary art is missing what Russia really is nowadays and it’s staying on the surface of a buzzing society.

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Of course, to better know the Russian contemporary art, you can go in well-known museums and galleries. Among them, the best are the Garage Museum and Winzavod gallery in Moscow, and the Erarta Museum of St Petersburg!

Starting with the Erarta Museum in St Petersburg, because this one is my favorite (and trust me I know about art). The Erarta Museum is the most important museum of contemporary art in Russia despite being opened in 2010. It displays more than 2300 objects d’art. But to me the most important is its philosophy. Indeed, the philosophy of the Museum is to combine the elements of the participation of the visitor with the preference given to talented artists over popular artists. Finally a museum of contemporary art that gives the way to talent over popularity!

Musée Erarta © Saint-Pétersbourg - Musée art contemporain Erarta (4)

In Moscow the two museums that deal with contemporary art are the Garage Museum and the Winzavod gallery. The first one is a well-known and good quality museum in the heart of Gorky Park. It’s rather small but often has good exhibitions. Even if, to be honest, you need to be careful when choosing as some of them are more modern art than contemporary and so a bit… different.

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The Winzavod gallery is different (and free). It exhibits contemporary art project in a big industrial building. You’ll therefore meet young artists, often a bit underground and discover many styles and personalities!

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But if you want to discover the Russian contemporary art, the best remains to explore, walk by the streets, go to gallery openings and find the doors to the underground. Good luck!

 

Want to book a guided-tour? Check out Tsar Visit!