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Things to Do in Russia - page 5

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Peterhof State Museum-Reserve (Muzeya-Zapovednika Peterhof)
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532 Tours and Activities

Petrhof (Петерго́ф) or “Peter’s yard” is considered the fountain capital of the world and is in the eyes of any visitor, an absolute gem of environs in St. Petersburg. Consisting of 64 fountains, 255 sculptures not to mention the Grand Palace (Большой дворец), and other historic palaces Monplaisir (Монплезир) and Marly (Дворец Марли), as well as the pavilion known as Hermitage (Дворец Марли).

In the upper garden resides the Fountain of Neptune (Фонтан Нептун), cast in lead with a majestic portrait of Neptune on a pedestal as well as horses and dolphins.).

The lower park spans over 102 ha contains the famous monplaisir Palace located in the eastern part of the park, and was considered the favorite of Peter I. The lower park also houses Catherine’s body (Екатерининский корпус), built by Rastrelli and containing 2 buildings connected by a gallery.).

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Catherine Palace and Park
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348 Tours and Activities

Catherine Palace (Екатеринский дворец) is one of Russia’s former imperial palaces and summer residence to its tsar’s built on the orders of Catherine I. Now a museum, the baroque style palace has a neoclassical interior that exemplifies Russian wealth and extravagance.

The palace is best known for the grand suit Golden Enfilade (анфилад), which was designed by Bartolomeo Rastrelli, containing the ballroom known as the Grand Hall or Hall of Lights, and Art Galleries (Большому залу и Картинной галерее); with an immaculate ceiling painting, and sprawls out with distinctively decorated smaller rooms.

Outside the palace is the divine Catherine Park (Екатеринский парк), comprised of 2 parts including the old garden and English Park (Английского парка).

Designed by master Dutch gardeners Jan Roosen and Johan Vocht during the 18th century, the garden contains various elements including the Vangaza stream, which flows down to the Upper and Mill ponds.

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Pavlovsk Palace (Pavlovskiy Dvorets)
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72 Tours and Activities

Built in 1777 under commission of Catherine the Great and featuring the works of architects like Charles Cameron, Jacomo Quarengi and Carlo Rossi, the stately Pavlovsk Palace was a gift from the Empress to her son, the future Emperor Paul I, to mark the birth of her first grandson. A magnificent neoclassical complex set in an idyllic 1,500-acre estate, the palace is surrounded by landscaped parks and woodlands, and served as the summer residence for the Emperor and his wife, Maria Feodorovna, until his untimely death in 1801.

Today, the painstakingly restored palace is open to the public and provides an intimate glimpse into the life of one of Russia’s most enigmatic rulers. Visitors can peek into the chambers of Maria Feodorovna, where her personal items are still on display; explore the state rooms, decorated with an impressive collection of furnishings, fine china and paintings; and admire highlights like the lavish Throne Room.

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Suzdal
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25 Tours and Activities
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Gatchina Palace
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Among stiff competition, the elegant Neo-classical crescent of Gatchina Palace is one of St Petersburg’s loveliest palaces, built for Count Gregory Orlov, a favorite (read: lover?) of Catherine the Great, in 1782 by the maestro Antonio Rinaldi, who was responsible for many churches and Imperial palaces around the city. After Orlov’s death, Gatchina was home to four generations of the Romanov Tsars before being requisitioned by the state in 1917. All but destroyed in World War II, the doors of the palace only reopened when refurbishment started in 1985; it is so breathtakingly huge that restoration still goes on today.

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St. Petersburg Cruise Port
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St Petersburg was founded by Peter the Great in the 1700s to serve as a window to the west. With its imperial history and magnificent architecture, it is often considered one of the most beautiful cities in Russia. The Port of St Petersburg is the largest port in northwest Russia and serves as the primary gateway between Russia and the Baltic Sea. It is one of the world’s most popular cruise destinations. Ships docking in St Petersburg do so in the heart of the city, at Vasilevsky Island.

If you arrive in St. Petersburg on a cruise, you will likely head into the city center as part of an organized shore excursion and as part of a group visa. Once you are in the heart of St Petersburg, most major attractions are within walking distance of each other, but that doesn’t mean seeing everything will be easy – you will likely have to pick and choose based on your interests.

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More Things to Do in Russia

Central Air Force Museum (Muzey Voyenno-ozdushnykh Sil)

Central Air Force Museum (Muzey Voyenno-ozdushnykh Sil)

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Located 24 miles from Moscow along the Gorky Highway in a wooded area, the Monino Central Air Force Museum is the premier aviation museum in Russia and one of the largest aviation museums in the world. A bit out of the way, it is well worth a visit for anyone with a serious interest in aviation or Russian military history.

An operational air force base between 1932 and 1956, the museum was founded in 1958 and opened in 1960. It was off limits to civilians during Soviet times and until 2006, advance permission was required for non-Russians to visit. Using the base’s original structures, the museum features more than 170 aircraft and more than 120 aircraft engines, including fighter planes, passenger planes and helicopters. The most impressive of all is arguably the Ilya Muromets, the largest aircraft of the 20th century. Also on display are a variety of weapons, spy instruments and uniforms from the Cold War era.

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Menshikov Palace

Menshikov Palace

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The most luxurious house of its time in St Petersburg, the Menshikov Palace was also the first large stone building to be constructed in the city. Standing on Vasilievsky Island, it is the only surviving private structure from the early 18th century. Designed by Italian architects, the exterior combines a western Baroque style with traditional Russian architectures that has been dubbed “Petrine Baroque.” Inside, the rooms that hosted some of the first balls in the city have been restored to their original state, with parquet floors, Dutch tiles and marble accents. The exhibits likewise take visitors back to the 18th century, with collections of European and Russian applied art from the era, as well as sculptures, paintings, engravings and furniture. The palace has functioned as a branch of the State Hermitage Museum since 1967.

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Kubinka Tank Museum

Kubinka Tank Museum

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The Kubinka Tank Museum is the largest museum in the world of armored vehicles. Located just outside of Moscow, it houses more than 300 tanks and vehicles from throughout the 20th century. One of the most unique vehicles on display is the German super-heavy tank prototype known as the Panzer VIII Maus—one of just two made and the only one still in existence.

Other exhibits include the Troyanov heavy tank and a Karl-Gerat self-propelled artillery, as well as single and limited edition prototypes from Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union and Cold War era tanks that were war trophies from the Middle East, Africa, Vietnam and Latin America. The vehicles are displayed throughout seven hangars, including four for Soviet and Russian armor alone, divided into heavy, medium, light and wheeled vehicles hangars. In 2000, all of the old vehicles were repainted in their original manner by Russian historical specialists.

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Constantine Palace

Constantine Palace

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Located in the seaside town of Strelna, the Constantine Palace today forms part of the National Congress Palace complex of St. Petersburg. Strelna was originally chosen by Peter the Great to be the site of his summer residence in 1714, but the palace stood unfinished until the early 19th century. It served as a residence for the Romanov grand dukes until falling into decay after the Russian Revolution. Later, all interior decorations were stripped during the German occupation of St. Petersburg.

In 2001, Vladimir Putin ordered the palace to be renovated and converted into a presidential residence. It hosted more than 50 heads of state during St. Petersburg’s tercentenary celebration in 2003 and recently held the qualifying draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Visitors to the palace today can see exhibitions of Russian painting, decorative and applied arts and the history of Russian glass production from the 1700s.

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Valaam Monastery

Valaam Monastery

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Gagarin Research and Test Cosmonaut Training Center

Gagarin Research and Test Cosmonaut Training Center

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Located about an hour north of Moscow in Star City, the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center offers a glimpse into the Soviet space program that was once off-limits to outsiders. Named after Yuri Gagarin, the first man to fly in space, the training facility sits in a densely forested area, its whereabouts unknown for years as the United States and the former Soviet Union battled for space supremacy. Today, it continues to train Russian cosmonauts but is open to the public. A guided tour of the facility makes for a unique experience while visiting Moscow.

Administered by the Russian Federal Space Agency since 2009, the training center features full-size mock-ups of all major spacecraft developed since the Soviet era, including the Soyuz – which was built in the 1960s to take astronauts to the Soviet space stations – and the space shuttle Buran.

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