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The Biggest Country in the World

  • Feb 19, 2010
the land of the tzars... 
the playground of Ivan; the Terrible, the Kalita & the Great! 
The land that conquered, terrorized & mystified!

A land until not so long ago was still a superpower!
& today? (Imho, it still is!)

As a visitor, it took a great deal of effort to get the papers ready. More so than many countries. 
It took a lot of patience to understand what works in the "world" does not necessary work here. 
English does nothing here. Russian rules. 
Try asking for a glass of water in English & u know what helpless means.
Notwithstanding, it is a land of beauty, character & evolution.
A must for anyone who wishes to understand the "ism" of this world; communism, socialism, capitalism & globalism! 

From Russia With Love

The universal language in the world. LOVE!
There are a great many things in Russia I don't understand or appreciate. But one thing almost anyone or everyone understands is love! 

The City of Gold
It goes without saying...
St. Petersburg! (Once...)
Moscow (More than once ;-)!)

I prefer Moscow.
It's unique. It's very Russian. It has character.

St. Petersburg is modeled after Europe. 
It spells opulence & the so called "dominance of power".
It is very "gold".
Gold, gold, gold... 

I am not too impressed with St. Petersburg.
To me, it lacks a soul... a Russian soul...
Don't think the Russians agree.
What about you?

The Versailles?
Nay... Peterhof (Grand Palace).
Ok, kings love to compete. 
Hm, may be humans love to compete. ;-)

I read somewhere, well, can't remember where since I read quite a bit... This is one of the wonders of the architectural world.
Anyway, not important.
What's important is this - it's the grandest of all the palaces in Russia.
I didn't see the inside. 
But the exterior is far more splendid than those of Versailles. Though it was more or less a copy of it. Russians, please don't take offence. That's just what guides & guide books said. I know nothing ;p

Ok, this is the place for all those romantic walks in the summer. 
With uncountable (some said it's 142!) fountains & waterfalls of all kinds & shapes. It's fun!

Palaces... there are quite a few here. 
Summer Palace, Winter Palace. 
Anyone ever heard of Spring or Autumn Palace? ;-)
I haven't got a clue why there's only summer & winter but none associated with Spring or Autumn. They are 2 of my most favorite seasons!

Generally, St. Petersburg is the place to see palaces & museums while Moscow is filled with cathedrals & theaters.

Hermitage was originally a palace. The Winter Palace.

Catherine Palace (situated in Tsarkoe Selo, ie. Tsar's Village) is the Summer Palace. 
This palace has a pretty unique (ie Russian) facade & is filled with tourists who are there for the recently restored "Amber Room". Frankly, other than that, I'm not v. impressed with this palace. But see it you must ;-)
This is the palace of Peter the Great's wife, Catherine I.
One warning though: the queue is loooooooong, takes us more than 3 hours just to get in! Unless if your guide choose to bribe, that is. There's this VIP door, I heard. Ours refused to. It's a matter of principle as far as he's concerned.

Places of Worship
If you like palaces, there are 5 of them in St. Petersburg alone. I went to 3 & I think that's sufficient.
Now, head for the churches & cathedrals. There are many in both the cities.

St. Pete's Church On The Spilled Blood is a definite must..
It's one of the most authentic & original designed church I've ever set eyes on. 
Unfortunately, we didn't have time to see the interior. I was told it's magnificent! Next time perhaps...
Why Spilled Blood?
Because it was built on the spot where Alexander II was assassinated!
It's also been named "Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ" (Khram Voskreseniya Kristova.)

Speaking of Cathedrals, the major ones to take note are mostly found in Moscow & its surroundings. Some of these not to be missed by anyone visiting Russia for the 1st time are:
  1. St. Basil's Cathedral 
  2. Novodevichiy Convent
  3. Cathedral of the Annunciation
  4. Cathedral of the Archangel
  5. Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius

The Kremlin
You have to visit this place. 
If not, it's like going to Washington D.C. & never set foot in the White House!
All Russian presidents, present & I reckon future, lives here! Headquarter of the Soviet Union & once the citadel of the tsars. 
The very symbol of POWER

The building of the fortress (incidentally, that's what Kremlin means) - Ivan III has a hand in it! It was mostly completed in late 15th century. Stalin had some of the structures destroyed in the 30s. 
Upon his death, Kremlin was reopened to the public around 1955.

Here are some of the buildings found inside the Kremlin:

Churches & Cathedrals:
Cathedral of the Annunciation
Cathedral of the Archangel
Cathedral of the Assumption
Church of the Deposition of the Robe

Palaces & Historical Buildings:
Faceted Palace
Great Kremlin Palace
Ivan the Great Bell Tower (+ the biggest Cannon in the world!)
Palace of the Congresses
Saviour's Tower
Terem Palace
Trinity Tower

Patriarch's Palace
State Armoury

Must See - All the cathedrals, the State Armoury (I didn't have the chance at all, hate tour group!), Ivan the Great Bell Tower, Trinity Tower. 
Take note that many of the palaces are not opened to the public. Well, this is Russia!
& do not walk on the unmarked roads! (They'll shoot you, hehe... with Russian ;-))

The Red Square
Other than the Kremlin, Red Square (KRASNAYA PLOSHCHAD) has to be the most important place that no one in their right mind would miss! Situated beside the Kremlin, Red Square is not quite "red". Rather, it was so called because ... oh well, it's a long story & again Ivan III has a hand in it! This guy gave the order to burn down houses & stalls at the market (it was original a market called torg) to make way for this square. It was then known as "Fire" Square.

In 17th century, the Russian word "krasnyy" meaning "beautiful" was the name of this square. 
This word later came to mean "red". It's all in the guidebook. I wouldn't know what happened in the 17th century ;-) Ok, so it was said.

Red Square is huge! About 500 m (1600 ft) in length. Btw, my suggestion is make sure you are not on high heels when in Russia. Lots of grounds to cover!

Ok, as with every square, there's a specific function or occasion where events were/are held here.
In the past, it was a place for executions & announcements (to the public naturally).
Now, I guessed it's a tourist attraction ;-) & also where Lenin Mausoleum can be found.
In this aspect, it's very similar to Tiananmen Square of China! See the parallels?

Anyway, you've to walk it, ok? I also suggest it in Spring & Summer. As for Winter, you do it at your own risk!

Some buildings around the Square are the famous St. Basil's Cathedral, Lenin Mausoleum, Kazan Cathedral, Historical Museum, the Kremlin & GUM (this is what ladies will all be interested in, I guess) - the superstore of Russian branded goods! It's huge! Trust me. You won't be out of it in 2 hours or less. This will be a place where your past conceptual images of Russia will be redefined ;-)

The Subway

I've been to many parts of the world. 
But, never have I heard that the subway is a star attraction! 

Here, in Moscow, Russia, it is one & it deserves to be visited. 
Right, we are talking about subway stations!
Well, I didn't count how many but there are enough for you to pick & choose.
We visited 4, not the major ones.
But interesting nonetheless.

The Moscow subway system counts as one of the top 5 oldest in the world (after Paris', London's & NYC's).
Yet, it's probably one of the most beautiful & the cleanest of them all!

Yes, speaking of cleanliness; the few cities I visited, they are VERY clean!
I was surprised! Pleasantly surprised! :-)

Swan Lake

No, it's not a lake. But ballet!

Yes, Russian Ballet is world renowed!
Definitely high quality even if u don't see it at the Bolshoy Theatre. 
Try the Bolshoy's performances if you've the chance.

I enjoyed Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky. Other choices are The Nutcracker by the same composer & Giselle by Adolphe Adam.

At the Palace of Congresses in the Kremlin, the Kremlin Ballet Company performs.

Other than Ballet, you may also enjoy the Russian Circus. There are plenty to do in Russia, it is afterall, the largest country in the World!
The Biggest Country in the World The Biggest Country in the World

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January 18, 2011
I thought China was the biggest? oh well, I like Russian women.. :)
More Russia reviews
Quick Tip by . February 19, 2010
The biggest country yet the least understood. Even after a trip, one is more baffled & enthralled than to have apprehended the Russian way!
About the reviewer
Sharrie ()
Ranked #3
I'm a traveler at heart & have been nicknamed Travel Queen by friends & colleagues alike. Traveling has been my life passion for the last decade or so. As we enter a new decade, I'm excited … more
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Russia (pronounced /ˈrʌʃə/ ( listen)RussianРоссияtr. Rossiyapronounced [rɐˈsʲijə]  ( listen)), also officially known as the Russian Federation[7][8] (RussianРоссийская Федерацияtr. Rossiyskaya Federatsiyapronounced [rɐˈsʲijskəjə fʲɪdʲɪˈraʦəjə]  ( listen)), is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential democratic republic, comprising 83 federal subjects. Russia shares borders with the following countries (from northwest to southeast): NorwayFinlandEstoniaLatviaLithuania and Poland (both via Kaliningrad Oblast), BelarusUkraine,GeorgiaAzerbaijanKazakhstanChinaMongolia, and North Korea. It also has maritime borders with Japan (by the Sea of Okhotsk) and theUnited States (by the Bering Strait).

At 17,075,400 square kilometres (6,592,800 sq mi), Russia is by far the largest country in the world, covering more than a ninth of the Earth's land area. Russia is also the ninth most populous nation in the world with 142 million people.[1] It extends across the whole of northern Asia and 40% of Europe, spanning 11 time zones and incorporating a wide range of environments and landforms. Russia has the world's largest ...

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