20 amazing places in Russia, which are rarely seen in guidebooks
Lakes of colored water, cliffs inhabited by ghosts, ancient abandoned cities and sands surrounded by ice – this is not a list of scenery for an adventure movie, but points on the map of our country. This article is about places in Russia that know how to impress!
Russia – not just a generous soul, but also thousands of places where you can this same soul to relax. The Valley of Geysers, the Lena Pillars, Baikal, the Kazan Kremlin are known to almost everyone, but there are hundreds of natural and architectural beauties in our country that are not often included in the tourist ratings, although they deserve no less attention. Today I’ll tell you about several of them – get inspired and pack your bags!
Lake Elton, Volgograd Region
Surrounded by a ring of snow-white salt, Lake Elton is also called a golden bottom, because the algae make the body of water shimmer with all the colors of precious stones, from gold to pink to bright indigo. The lake is so shallow that you can literally walk on it: the average depth in summer is only 5 cm. This is a great opportunity to take beautiful pictures with reflection, creating the illusion of walking on the sky. You can also see flocks of cranes and sandpipers, and if you’re lucky, you can catch the blooming of rare Schrenk tulips, which are listed in the Red Book.
Mir Diamond Mine, Yakutia
The hand-created diamond mine was not called Mir for nothing: after discovering the source, geologists sent a coded radiogram to Moscow: “We smoked the pipe of peace, the tobacco is excellent. Why a pipe? It’s simple: that’s what geologists call such deposits. These days, the mine is no longer in operation, and tourists have a chance to look at the pit of colossal size – one and a half kilometers in diameter! The Yakuts believe that the diamond deposits in their land are due to an intervention from above: once it was so cold that a deity floating in the sky froze his hand off and dropped a whole bag of diamonds on the ground.
Kungur ice cave, Perm region
Kungurskaya cave is one of the ten longest gypsum caves in the world! It is located on the bank of the river Sylva and stretches for eight kilometers: two of them are equipped for visitors. The cave has dozens of lakes, grottoes and impressive high shafts, which are called organ pipes. In the tourist part, the stalactites and stalagmites are illuminated. Here you get a feeling as if you are in an adventure movie and wander through fantastic labyrinths in search of treasure.
Solovetsky Monastery, Arkhangelsk Region
The monastery has stood here, amid the northern landscapes of the White Sea, since the 15th century, and the history of the erection of the Solovetsky Kremlin is a mystery to this day. Some of the boulders that were used to build the walls weigh over 8 tons and the lichen that grows on them is 2000-3000 years old! Even historians do not know when, by whom and how the construction was started. One and a half kilometers of tunnels pass under the monastery: the monks used them as a sewer, and as a back passage. Solovetsky monastery – a real fortress, impregnable and fortified. During the Crimean War, the English fleet tried to bombard the monastery with cannons. The result of nine hours of incessant fire was only a hit seagull and a damaged icon.
Charskie Sands, Transbaikalia
Sandy desert among the glaciers – sounds like a mirage of a tired traveler. However, Charski sands is just the place where such anomaly occurs in reality: a red-hot desert surrounded by harsh Kodar glaciers. True, this neighborhood makes its adjustments: instead of camels there are deer, and instead of palm trees in rare oases there are larches and cedars. This contrast gives the place even more charm.
Bolshoy Bogdo Mountain, Astrakhan Region
Whence in the endless Astrakhan steppe appeared the mountain, and even such an unusual color – red? It has to do with the concentration of metals in its soil, but there is a less prosaic explanation: according to legend, the nomadic Oiratians, leaving their native expanses, wanted to take the mountain with them. Monks carried it on their shoulders, but one of them was unable to hold Bogdo, and the mountain fell and remained in the middle of the steppe. This place is part of the Bogdinsko-Baskunchaksky Reserve, where tourists are created comfortable conditions and offered tours. Big Bogdo is the only mountain in the Caspian Depression.
Krenitsyn Volcano, Kuril Islands
Located on the island Onekotan, the active volcano Krenitsyn – a truly unique phenomenon. It is not just a volcano, but a volcano within a volcano and the biggest in the world. There is a lake ring around its forested top enclosed in blooming slopes – calderas. The lake is enshrouded in a mesmerizing landscape, which is nothing short of a setting for “Jurassic Park”!
Gasut, also known as Machu Picchu, is the oldest settlement in the Caucasus, spread out on the very top of the mountain. This grotesque ghost village was erected on the crossroads of the Great Silk Road to meet trade caravans, and over time, it fell into decay and the locals abandoned it. The top of the aul offers a view of the mountains, rocky gorges and nearby villages. Here you can walk through silent medieval streets and, if you’re lucky, meet “the last inhabitant of Gamstul” Ziyavudin – he doesn’t officially live here, but he comes every day from his village to restore the house in which he plans to meet and give tea to tourists.
Jack London Lake, Magadan
The ten-kilometer-long pond with four picturesque islands owes its name to an unusual find: the expedition which discovered the lake, found a book by the famous writer Jack London on its shores. How the book got here and who was the mysterious intellectual, who happened to be in this deserted area of the Magadan region – is still unknown.
Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric plant, the border of Krasnoyarsk region and Khakassia
The triumph of human thought – the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric dam – stands on the legendary Yenisei River. Yes, yes, the river that is the most full-flowing in Russia, and which, because of its impressive length, feeds bears in Siberian forests and steppe camels. Surrounded by taiga expanses, the hydropower plant survived an 8-point earthquake in 2011, but has survived and since then impresses tourists and photographers with its grandeur during the day and bright illumination at night as if nothing had happened.
Valley of Ghosts, Crimea
From the top of the mountain, a thick mist descends over the entire valley like the smoke of a forest fire. The sight is so mesmerizing that Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe could have been inspired here. The legend of the mystical apparition tells of the wrath of Mount Funa, which took revenge on the outlaws for the murdered beauty on its summit. Of course, no ghosts have officially been discovered here, but even without that, the valley attracts travelers: dozens of rocks of the most bizarre shapes – there is even one very similar to the Egyptian Sphinx, dizzying views and clouds that seem to be able to be touched. And this is also where “Captive of the Caucasus” was filmed, and you can make a photo on the stone, on which Nina sang her “Song about bears”.
Ruskeala Marble Canyon, Karelia
The canyon appeared on the site of the mines, the excavation of which began with the light hand of Catherine II. From the depths of Ruskeala extracted marble for decoration St. Isaac’s Cathedral, Mikhailovsky Castle and the Hermitage. Now the mines and quarries have turned into lakes, and even so picturesque that they are often used for filming. For example, “The Dawns Are Quiet Here”, “Piranha’s Footprints” and “The Dark World” were filmed here.
Marble Canyon is included in my selection of interesting places in Karelia – read it here.
“The City of the Dead, North Ossetia-Alania
The narrow road winds through the Dargava gorge, past rocks and forests, and leads travelers to the “City of the Dead” – a medieval necropolis of 97 crypts. The history of the mass grave dates back to the bloody wars between the Alans and the Tatar-Mongols. In those days, land was so expensive that the locals could not afford to bury the dead on meadows suitable for sowing and grazing. So they chose a rocky hillside where they gradually began to build vaults. Because of the wars, there were so many dead that the little cemetery grew into an entire necropolis, the City of the Dead.
Lake Kezenoiam, Chechnya
Located on the border of Chechnya and Dagestan, the lake Kezenoiam is as pure as a teardrop and cold as ice. That’s what the locals say about it. The lake is surrounded by mountains and untouched nature. The seclusion of this place gave birth to many legends. They say that the gold of the Horde is hidden in Kezanoyam, and that the local Amazons, the Mehkaris, once lived on its shores.
I included this lake in an article about the most impressive places in the Caucasus – follow the link and read, there are many ideas for a trip.
Glass Bay, Vladivostok
The pebbles and sand of the bay are mixed with sea-ground glass. Red, blue, yellow, green – what other pebbles there aren’t! This is an ideal place for a spectacular photo shoot: glass pebbles shimmer in the sun with all the colors of the rainbow, sparkling and scattering everywhere motley flare. Glass Bay – a unique phenomenon, you will not find such a place in our country.
Teriberka, Murmansk region
On the shores of the Barents Sea hides a place with the marvelous name of Teriberka, where dozens of ships are buried. These lands are impressive: fishing trawlers drifting on the shoals, remains of small boats scattered along the coast – all this against a background of gloomy and desolate landscapes of the Kola Peninsula. It is not surprising that filmmakers have settled in such a colorful place: the main scenes of Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan were shot here, and Teriberka “played” the role of the Aleutian Islands in Alexey Mizgirev’s Duelant.
Oymyakon is a place where winter lasts almost nine months, eyelashes are covered with frost in a couple of minutes, and reindeer racing is not an exotic entertainment, but a common thing. The name of this picturesque place in Yakutia is translated, at first glance, quite illogically: “ice-free water”, but ironically, due to abnormally low temperatures the ground and underground rivers freeze to such an extent that they push the unfrozen water out. Not for nothing Oymyakon has the proud status of the coldest city in Russia!
Pink Lake Sasyk-Sivash, Crimea
There are only a few lakes in the world with an amazing pink color, and one of them is in Russia! The rich hue of the water is given by Dunaliella algae. The color changes depending on the activity of microorganisms. To catch exactly the pink color, come to the lake from June to August. And also pay attention to the time of day: the water becomes bright pink at noon, burgundy – in the evening, and at dawn it turns lilac and purple.
The ancient city of Bolgar lived through the campaigns of Tamerlane and the rule of the Horde. The biggest Koran in the world – 800 kg – is kept here! Its history is proudly seen on the front pages of the Guinness Book of Records. The main architectural treasure of the Bulgars is the White Mosque. It is an ensemble of white marble, combining the authenticity of Islamic minarets of Medina and modern mosques with intricate arabesques.
Kutkhin Baty, Kamchatka
Sacred to the Itelmen, the pumice rocks are the real place of power. According to legend, the creator of the world, Kutkh, who liked to fish on the Kuril Lake, stacked his boats upside down so that he could go fishing at any time. And so appeared Kutkhin Baty – translated as “Kutkh’s boats” – picturesque slopes, the views of which are now admired by tourists. Locals make Kutkh figures of wood and bone: they are purchased not only as souvenirs, but also as talismans.
This article is my first work for the blog about amazing places in Russia. I hope that you will get new ideas for your future journeys and that the inaccessibility of many places does not scare you, because their beauty and uniqueness are worth the long trip.
Share this selection with your friends to plan a trip together!
“Solnechny” – a park-hotel near Moscow with the largest spa center in Russia. Cuva – hotel vacation certificates
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