Russia

 

History of Russia

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With the dissolution of the Soviet Union there has been an enormous resurgence of interest in Russia's pre-Soviet past, as well as a great deal of debate and reconsideration of the Soviet era itself. This shift has not resulted in a simple vilification of everything Soviet or a naive embrace of all that preceded it, but it has spurred an unprecedented effort to regain the ancient Russian national heritage. Churches are being restored all across the country, great Russian writers and artists whose works were banned are once again being honored, and the individual character of ancient cities and communities is once again becoming established.

For most western visitors, the bulk of Russia's history is nothing more than a compendium of hazy legends and sensationalist rumors - from scurrilous stories about Catherine the Great to tabloid television reports of the miraculous survival of the children of Nicholas II. However, the factual history of the country is no less compelling than its fabulous history, and even a brief introduction to the great and not-so-great figures of its past make a visit far more rewarding.

Cities

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  • Moscow  - Russia's gargantuan capital is one of the world's greatest cities and has endless attractions to offer an adventurous visitor
  • Saint Petersburg  - Russia's cultural and former political capital is home to the Hermitage, one of the world's best museums, while the city center is a living open air museum in its own right, making this city one of the world's top travel destinations. It's also the second largest city in the country.
  • Irkutsk - the world's favorite Siberian city, located within an hour of Lake Baikal on the Trans-Siberian Railway
  • Kazan - the capital of Tatar culture is an attractive city in the heart of the Volga Region with an impressive kremlin
  • Nizhny Novgorod  - often overlooked despite being one of the largest cities in Russia, Nizhny Novgorod is well worth a visit for its kremlin, Sakharov museum, and nearby Makaryev Monastery
  • Sochi - Russia's favorite Black Sea beach resort has been largely unknown to foreigners, but this has started to change in a major way adfter hosting the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
  • Vladivostok - often referred to (somewhat ironically) as "Russia's San Francisco," full of hilly streets and battleships, this is Russia's principal Pacific city and the terminus of the Trans-Siberian Railway
  • Volgograd - formerly Stalingrad, the scene of perhaps the deciding battle of World War II, and now home to a massive war memorial
  • Yekaterinburg - the center of the Urals region and one of Russia's principal cultural centers is a good stop on the Trans-Siberian Railway and an arrival point for visitors to the Urals, the second russian financial center.

Culture

Russian culture is the culture associated with the country of Russia and, sometimes, specifically with Russians. It has a long history and can claim a long tradition of dividend in many aspects of the arts, especially when it comes to literature and philosophy, classical music and ballet, architecture and painting, cinema and animation, which all had considerable influence on world culture. The country also has a flavorful material culture and a tradition in technology.

Russian culture started from that of the East Slavs, with their pagan beliefs and specific way of life in the wooded areas of Eastern Europe. Early Russian culture was much influenced by neighboring Finno-Ugric tribes and by nomadic, mainly Turkic, peoples of the Pontic steppe. In the late 1st millennium AD the Scandinavian Vikings, or Varangians, also took part in the forming of Russian identity and Kievan Rus' state. Kievan Rus' had accepted Orthodox Christianity from the Eastern Roman Empire in 988, and this largely defined the Russian culture of next millennium as the synthesis of Slavic and Byzantine cultures. After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, Russia remained the largest Orthodox nation in the world and claimed succession to the Byzantine legacy in the form of the Third idea. At different points in its history, the country was also strongly influenced by the culture of Western Europe. Since Peter the Great's reforms for two centuries Russian culture largely developed in the general context of European culture rather than pursuing its own unique ways. The situation changed in the 20th century, when the Communist ideology became a major factor in the culture of the Soviet Union, where Russia, or Russian SFSR, was the largest and leading part.

Weather and Climate

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The climate of Russia is formed under the influence of several determining factors. The enormous size of the country and the remoteness of many areas from the sea result in the dominance of the continental climate, which is prevalent in European and Asian Russia except for the tundra and the extreme southeast. Mountains in the south obstructing the flow of warm air masses from the Indian Ocean and the plain of the west and north makes the country open to Arctic and Atlantic influences.

Public Holidays

Russia Public Holidays Year 2015
New Year Holiday January 1, 2015 Thursday
New Year Holiday January 2, 2015 Friday
New Year Holiday January 3, 2015 Saturday
New Year Holiday January 4, 2015 Sunday
New Year Holiday January 5, 2015 Monday
New Year Holiday January 6, 2015 Tuesday
Christmas Day January 7, 2015 Wednesday
New Year Holiday January 8, 2015 Thursday
Holiday January 9, 2015 Friday
Defenders of Fatherland Day February 23, 2015 Monday
International Women's Day March 8, 2015 Sunday
Holiday March 9, 2015 Monday
Spring and Labour Holiday May 1, 2015 Friday
Holiday May 4, 2015 Monday
Victory Day May 9, 2015 Saturday
Holiday May 11, 2015 Monday
Day of Russia June 12, 2015 Friday
National Unity Day November 4, 2015 Wednesday

Travel Advisory

There is no nationwide advisory for Russia. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to crime.