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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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Top 10: Imperial Russia

One of the most vivid symbol of Russia in everyone’s mind is its imperial past. Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great, Catherine II, Nicholas II, Anastasia Romanov are the names that everyone knows either from their sweet taste for history or for movies. Russia has a glorious past that continues to attract billions of tourists every year. But if most of the czarist legacies are located in St Petersburg, it would be a mistake to bypass some crucial places! So wear your most beautiful costume and dive with us into history!

 

Imperial summer residences are numerous in St Petersburg’s neighbouring but not all are equally beautiful. Thankfully, Tsar Visit is organising a very special tour to help you discover the Czars’ most outstanding palaces. You will begin your day at the Pavlovsk Palace. A palace with a facade in shades of yellow with white columns (fancy). You will then go to the town of Pushkin, formerly called Tsarskoye Selo, to continue your journey into Imperial Russia by visiting the sumptuous Catherine Palace (super fancy). But don’t forget that these palaces would be nothing without their gardens (well, except for Catherine Palace, which has the Amber Room…) you must take time to explore them!

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Obviously, the most important and biggest palaces of all is the Hermitage. As the official residence of the Czar, the Hermitage was the very heart of the Russian Empire. Its seizing in 1917 became a symbol of the revolutions and the end of the Imperial Russia. Moreover, the Hermitage became through the centuries the biggest museum on Earth! You would be a fool not to visit it while in St Petersburg…

Dreamstime © - Saint-Pétersbourg - Ermitage (9)

 

  • Peterhof Palace (St Petersburg)

Peter the Great’s summer residence is beautifully amazing. Its sumptuous and rich interiors are only competing with its gardens. Peterhof is for sure the most beautiful Imperial palace in Russia. Indeed it copied Louis XIV’s palace of Versailles. However you must visit Peterhof in summer. Why? First because you can access it by the canal, and this will show to the people what kind of person your are. Second because the fountains are working. Don’t misunderstand me on this. Peterhof goldish fountains themselves are worth the visit as they have been erected as part of the garden…and to please the Czar’s taste for water games. Cheeky!

Dreamstime © - Saint-Pétersbourg - Peterhof - Jardins et fontaines (8)

 

  • Tsarskoye Selo (St Petersburg)

Tsarskoye Selo is a small village in St Petersburg’s neighbouring. But Tsarskoye Selo hosts two magnificent palaces, two Imperial summer residences which are definitely worth the visiting. Go to Tsarskoye Selo, and visit both the Alexander Palace (currently under restoration) and the Catherine Palace. But don’t do it in a hurry, you don’t want to miss the opportunity of exploring their english-styled parks!

Dreamstime © - Saint-Pétersbourg - Tsarskoe Selo - Salle de balle (2).jpg

 

  • Yusupov Palace (St Petersburg)

But Imperial Russia and the Czarist regime weren’t all about the Romanov. The Yusupovs constituted at the end of the Russian Empire, the second most powerful (after the Romanov of course) and the richest family in Russia. Those understood everything: money, power, charity but staying next to, not in, the spotlight. As a result they possessed several palaces in the very center of St Petersburg. The most beautiful of them is the Yusupov Palace on the Moyka. A must do! (at least because Rasputin died in these walls).

Dreamstime © - Saint-Pétersbourg - 2e Palais Youssoupov

 

  • House of the boyars Romanov (Moscow)

One would think that Czars, Romanov, Imperial Russia are words that can’t go with St Petersburg. This is obviously a mistake! If you’re really into the Russian Empire, you must visit were it all started: the House of the boyars Romanov. Located in Moscow’s very heart (and currently under restoration), this treasure from the past is the house (calling it a palace would be a bit much) of the Romanov right before the Russian Empire and Peter the Great. And in addition to the emotion given by the Romanov souvenir, you’ll dive into the Russian Middle-Age!

Dreamstime © Moscou - Palais Boyards Romanov (2).jpg

 

  • Alexander Nevsky Lavra (St Petersburg)

I already wrote a lot about the Alexander Nevsky Lavra, how its peculiar atmosphere and stunning architecture made a great impression on me. I also explained why this Lavra is one of the most important religious sight in St Petersburg. But the Alexander Nevsky Lavra is also deeply linked to the Russian Empire and the Czars. Why? Well check its name! Indeed the Monastery was built in 1710 to welcome the relics of Saint Alexander Nevsky but precisely where Alexander Nevsky defeated the Swedes in 1210. The Lavra is interlinked to the Russian Empire and marks Peter the Great’s intention to establish the new Northern Capital in Holy Russia.

Dreamstime © - Saint-Pétersbourg - Laure Alexandre Nevski (10)

 

  • The Fabergé Museum (St Petersburg)

We spoke a lot about palaces but one dimension of the Imperial Russia is definitely its peculiar culture, arts and crafts. The Czars contributed to the development and rise of Russian craftmasters in the Empire and in Europe. One of the best and most famous, is Fabergé. His eggs, and all his artefacts, are among the most beautiful and meaningful jewels made under the Russian Empire. More than artefacts, they are pieces of art and one of the last legacies of the Romanov today. It’s a definitely a must-see! (these eggs drive me crazy).

Dreamstime @ Saint-Pétersbourg - Musée Fabergé (2).jpg

 

  • Peter and Paul fortress (St Petersburg)

As a fan of the Romanov and while exploring St Petersburg, you have to go visit the Peter and Paul fortress. Despite the fact that it’s one of the most interesting and visited site of St Petersburg, the Peter and Paul fortress is before all (at least for us, who know the perfection of the Romanov) the place where are lying almost all members of the Imperial family. A great place to remember the Imperial Russia… and think about the tragic destiny of Nicholas II and his family.

Dreamstime © - Saint-Pétersbourg - Forteresse Pierre et Paul (8).jpg

 

  • Alexey Mikhailovich Romanov palace (Moscow)

Before being St Petersburg, the Russian capital was Moscow, even under the Romanov. That’s why you should visit Alexey Mikhailovich Romanov palace. A place that marks the Romanov transition from being boyards (nobles) to being Russian emperors. This majestic wooden palace highlights the rise of the Romanov but also is a testimony of the Russian noble life between the Middle Age and the Empire in the heart of Kolomenskoye estate!

Dreamstime © - Kolomenskoe - Palais du tsar Alexis Mikhaïlovitch (4).jpg

 

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

 

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Traveling in Russia

The Hermitage

Everyone knows the Hermitage, either because of its artistic importance or because of Fox Animation Studios’ movie Anastasia. The Hermitage is one of the most famous sight of Russia and many come to St Petersburg only to visit it!

Dreamstime © - Saint-Pétersbourg - Ermitage (9)


Indeed nowadays the Hermitage is also the most important museum in the world with its collections of more than 3 million items. These collections include antiquities, masterpieces of both the Western and Russian schools of arts (and especially from the Impressionists), jewels and objects of various types from the Imperial Russia. But the Hermitage is also a work of art in itself.

Dreamstime © - Saint-Pétersbourg - Ermitage (3).jpg

The museum sets in the different but interconnected palaces on the Neva’s shores that constitute the former residence of the Czars. The Winter Palace, the Small Hermitage, the General Staff Building are all stunning, as much for their Russian Baroque art facades as for their interior ornaments.

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The Hermitage has been built in 1711, mostly destroyed in 1837 by a fire and rebuilt by Nicholas I. But the Hermitage acquired such an artistic importance thanks to the passion of Catherine the Great for fine arts (and the advices of famous intellectuals such as Diderot).

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But obviously the Hermitage also had (and has?) a political major importance. If it was the residence of the Czars during the Russian Empire, meaning the heart of the Imperial State, its seizure in 1917 became a symbol of the Soviet revolutions. Currently the Hermitage remains a reminder of St Petersburg political power and taste for art, often prompt to recall the Imperial Russia rather than the Soviet Union. That’s why in 2017 the museum staff restarted a clock switched off by the revolutionaries a century before while declaring “the time of aristocracy is now over”… sweet wink to history.

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Because of its history and its collections, the Hermitage is without any doubt an absolutely essential during any visit to the Venice of the North, and is not to be missed for any reason!

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

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Traveling in Russia

St Petersburg historic center

Built, thought and kept as the symbol of Russia’s europeanness, St Petersburg has always been completely different from Moscow. Indeed, St Petersburg emerged under the Romanov, following the dream of Peter the Great, as the capital of a Russian Empire expanding towards the East but living and thinking as a European power. That’s why St-Petersburg, despite not being similar to any city in the world, tends to be considered as a European one. This is mainly due to its Italian-styled palaces and church. But above all, the atmosphere of St Petersburg reminds every visitor that Peter the Great’s city is and remains a city of culture and arts.

Dreamstime © - Saint-Pétersbourg - Ermitage (9)

One would think that “Peter” (as called in Russian) is a ghost city all about past and faded imperial dreams. But this is a mistake.

Dreamstime © - Saint-Pétersbourg - Cathédrale Saint Isaac (13)

First because despite having been the capital city of the Russian Empire, St Petersburg isn’t so old. Founded in 1703 by Peter the Great, the city therefore only has 3 centuries. Which is why all the stunning sights such as the Peter and Paul fortress, all the impressive cathedrals such as St Isaac and Christ the Savior on Spilled Blood, and all the marvellous palaces have a sweet taste of historical modernity.

Dreamstime © - Saint-Pétersbourg - Laure Alexandre Nevski (10)

Second because St Petersburg has always been and remains today probably more than ever a city for and of the intelligentsia, prompt to expend new artistic and intellectual trends. That’s why if visiting the Hermitage is a must-do, looking for new places, such as the newly opened New Holland, is also a good one!

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

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Top 10: Natural Capitals

Moscow and St-Petersburg are big cities with cars and peoples everywhere. Noises, grey buildings, pollution, crowds are all usual aspects of living in a city. Moreover, being an inhabitant or a tourist, you spend your days walking (if not running) in city centers, public transports and famous sights. So why not taking a deep and relaxing breath in one of Moscow and St Petersburg’s amazing parks? Indeed these two cities hosts absolutely stunning parks and gardens that you must have a walk in!   

  • Gorky Park (Moscow)

My favorite so far…and all year around! In winter (i.e almost all the time) Gorky park, covered of snow (and ice), is magical. For the time of a walk you’re escaping Moscow city center and enjoy a timeless moment in a snowy and welcoming forest. But above all, in winter Gorky park allows you to walk along the iced Moskva river, which is absolutely priceless (and freezing). Hopefully there is also lots of caffé and restaurants! When summer finally comes out of the corner, Gorky park becomes more crowded than the Red Square but the friendly atmosphere (and the sun!) worths the walk…or ride one of the available bikes! And when fall arrives, Gorky park wears is absolutely stunning orange and yellow outfits which makes you understand why Russians call autumn the “golden season”.

Dreamstime © - Moscou - Parc Gorki

  • VDNKh Park (Moscow)

As Gorki park, the VDNKh Park has the greatness of being interesting all year around. Which to be honest is not a small thing when you try to go outside during a fierce winter. The VDNKh park was a an exhibition center to show the efficiency of the Soviet economy. That’s why today VDNKh is more of a recreational complex attracting thousands of people each year. It’s one of Moscow’s most famous and popular park mainly due to its skating-rink in winter, the largest of Russia, and its pavillons, celebrating the USSR glories.

Dreamstime © - Moscou - VDNKh

  • Teply Stan Park (Moscow)

Huge landscape reserve located south of Moscow, the Teply Stan Park is a famous and very popular park in Moscow. Preserved as a mixed Russian forest, it offers to its visitors some very needed fresh air. It also takes you to typical Russian woods, and allows you to, for a day, feel somewhere else…which is a relief when you’ve been staying in Moscow for a while. But more, in the Teply Stan Park you can walk alongside it’s tiny river, rest near its pound, discover the paleontological institute or even, in summer, go sailing! And who doesn’t like to pretend to be a pirate?

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  • Sokolniki Park (Moscow)

Sokolniki park is one of the oldest park in Moscow and one of the largest in Europe (of course). Sokolniki park is considered as one of the oldest park in Moscow because before being a public one, it was a hunting ground for Princes and Tsars. A bit later it became a traditional meeting point for gatherings and festive events. The park benefited from public founding which gave Sokolniki a new youth. Currently the park is divided in 9 sectors, each hosting pavillons and a specific biodiversity. Plus, if you’re kind of a bird-fanatic (aka amateur ornithologists) Sokolniki park also has an ornitary with exotic birds to admire!

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  • Neskuchny Garden (Moscow)

Another “one of the +superlative” park in Moscow (ie one of the oldest). Neskuchny Garden is located closer to the city center than the previous ones. In line with the famous Gorky park, the Neskuchny Garden is beautiful (especially in autumn). You should go there. It’s great. And beautiful.  

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  • Botanical Garden (St-Petersburg)

Being the oldest botanical garden of Russia (seriously, again?), the Botanical Garden of St-Petersburg is now quite significant and hosts numerous plants. It first has been used as the Tsar Apothecary’s Garden, but later transformed in a center for horticultural research. As a result you can explore charming indoor and outdoor gardens and learn more about various plants and biodiversities.

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  • Yusupov Garden (St-Petersburg)

St Petersburg is a lot about canals, tiny streets and palaces. But as a result there isn’t much of green spaces to chill, play or picnic on. That’s why the Yusupov Garden is very popular and important. Located in St-Petersburg city center, the Yusupov garden was a significant part of the Yusupov Palace and so remains today a piece of history. This gem really worth the visit and you definitely have to take time to picnic in this imperial garden!

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  • Summer Garden (St-Petersburg)

St-Petersburg’s summer garden comes straight from the Imperial Russian standards of the 18th century. Similar to French gardens of that time, the Summer Garden has been built on geometrical principles. It also hosts many marble statues representing antic subjects, fountains and rare plants. The summer garden is a real breath of fresh air in the city!

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  • Pavlovsk Palace’s park (St-Petersburg)

The Pavlovsk Palace’s park is a famous park close to the city. I already wrote a lot about it but this park worth the visit (even more than the Palace itself?). Stroll along the tree-lined avenues of this English park, and enjoy the various pavilions dotting it, and be transported to the Imperial Russia!

Tips: take a good camera and you’ll manage to shoot stunning pics of the park and the palace

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  • Tavrichesky park (St-Petersburg)

As the Pavlovsk Palace’s park, the Tavrichesky park is an English-style park…but in the city center! Built by Catherine the Great around the Tavrichesky manor, it includes pavillons, greenhouses (to take care of rare and uncommon plants) and ponds. It’s a famous park for those who (unlike me) spend their weekends playing chess or doing sport!

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Top 10: Tsar-Visit’s excursions

  As you know, Tsar Visit is a travel agency that sells guided-visits and tours in Moscow and St-Petersburg. We are working in 6 languages: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish and Russian. And thanks to Yulia, we are able to work with professional and accredited guides in those languages. But as Irina is doing her job far to well, you can be lost in our different offers. So here is a list of my favorites!    

 

My favourite is definitely the Bolshoi’s backstages. First because it’s a privilege of accessing it, and I like being the special and privileged person. Second, because it’s beautiful and for once you have time to admire the splendorous painting and goldish chandeliers. Third, because you can enter the Bolshoi for a much lesser price than the one of a ballet ticket in the historic stage! This is a must do!

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Because, I mean… THE Hermitage! Who never dreamt of visiting this marvelous imperial palace and dive into both History and fine art at the same time? Who never dreamt of being an heir of the Romanov finding its way through the palace? The Hermitage is a real historical pearl waiting for you on the Neva’s docks (tips: always look through the windows while visiting the museum, it worths it). But the Hermitage is also and above all the most important museum in the world. In other words, thanks to your guide, you’ll have detailed informations on both world-known masterpieces and the imperial Russia’s history.

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As for the Hermitage, the Kremlin is a must-do when visiting or living in Russia. As the political center of the country, but also as a historical keystone, the Kremlin worths the visit ! Nevertheless, the Kremlin is big, highly secured and offers to the public many historical and religious artefacts and buildings. That’s it must be visited… but never forget, with a professional and accredited guide!

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The Tretyakov Gallery is one of the most famous museum of Russia… and not for no reason. The Tretyakov Gallery is huge and exhibits masterpieces from Russian and European schools of arts. All of this is stunning and the Tretyakov is a must-do, especially for arts fan. So if you really want to know more about Russia and its artists, you should definitely book a guided-tour!

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Another feel-like-a-Royal-for-a-day visit that will bring you back in Peter the Great’s splendorous time. Peterhof is the Russian Versailles and this says all. The palace is absolutely stunning on the inside as on the outside. Special notice for the gardens and the fountains that are the icing on the cake. Thanks to a professional guide, you’ll bypass all the tourists, learn more about the imperial history and the Russian culture in a shining historic environment. Definitely one of my favorite!

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Seeing Christ the Savior on the Spilled Blood in this list, you’re probably thinking that I’m giving all Moscow’s and Petersburg’s classics. Wrong! The world-known cathedral has its path in this list because the inside is absolutely stunning (or am I only attracted by gold? Who knows…). But more than being beautiful and famous, Christ the Savior on the Spilled Blood is also full of hidden treasures, secrets and remains crucial in the Russian and Soviet history. That’s why you definitely need a guided visit!

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Did you know that the Yusupov where the richest family in the late imperial Russia, and the most powerful after the Romanov? No ? Then here is why you need to visit there palace on the Moika with a guide! The Yusupov palace hides all the secrets of this significant family. But the palace is also, and above all, crucial in the Russian history, having been Rasputin’s murder place!

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As the other places in this list (I admit I have a taste for the Imperial Russia), the Peter and Paul fortress is absolutely crucial in the Russian history. However, if you’re visiting it by yourself, you’ll find nothing else than big walls, a cathedral, graves and a garden. That’s why I advise you to do a guided-tour of it. Your guide will explain you the history of the fortress, showing you artefacts from the past, and give you details on the buried Romanov. Moreover, if (as me) you have a taste for royal families from the past and the present, the Peter and Paul fortress will serve you some delights!

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Moscow is a big city. And sometimes the best to do in order to discover a big city is to sit and enjoy a guided-tour. With Tsar Visit’s guided tour of Moscow you’ll discover, in a very comfy way, the Russian capital city and all its wonders. A must-do if you don’t have much time in Moscow!

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Basically the same as for Moscow. This tour is the best. Go for it!

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

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Did you know?

Christ the Savior on Spilled Blood

Did you know? Christ the Savior on Spilled Blood isn’t an usual church (despite its name) but rather a memorial!  Do you struggle identifying Church on the Savior on Blood and Saint Basil’s Cathedral? Well, no worries, in fact the architecture of the first mentioned was inspired by the lattest, which explains why they resemble each other so much. You’ll get more comfortable with it by reading about both of them.

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The Christ the Savior on Spilled Blood cathedral has been built in 1907 following the orders of Tsar Alexander III. However, it has been erected as a memorial and mourning place following the assassination of Tsar Alexander II, the Liberator, on March 1st 1881.

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In fact, and even if weekly requiem and sermons are given to remember Alexander II, Christ the Savior on the Spilled blood became a cathedral only in 1923. It has been closed about nine years later on the orders of the Soviet leadership to become a garbage dump. Nowadays Christ the Savior on Spilled Blood is an annex of St Isaac’s museum due to its stunning mosaics. That’s why if many believes that this world-known building is one of the most important church of St-Petersburg, it rather is, due to its history and architectural style, a memorial symbolising the Russian dilemma between liberalism and conservatism. And of course, it demonstrates (if needed) the Russian savoir-faire when it comes to architecture and religious art.

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Want to know more about Russia? Read more on our Travel Blog!

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