Russia’s Hidden Wonders
The world may have seven wonders, but Russia has quite a few of them itself. With Lake Baikal, the largest freshwater lake, all the way up to the highest summit in Europe, Mount Elbrus. Russia is full of beauty and wonder, and is an excellent destination for any traveler looking for beautiful sights and a few challenges. While the Visa process may be seen as slow, it’s worth every second, in order to get a glimpse of Russia’s Hidden Wonders.
Lake Baikal- Irkutsk Oblast, Buryatia
By volume, Lake Baikal is the largest freshwater lake, and is thought to be the world’s oldest, at 25 million years old. With 23,615.39 cubic kilometers (5,700 cubic miles) of fresh water, it contains more water than that of all the Great Lakes combined. Lake Baikal was formed as an ancient rift valley, and is home to more than 1,700 species of plants and animals. Two-thirds of which can be found nowhere else in the world. Surrounded by mile-high snowcapped mountains, Lake Baikal still offers vistas of unmatched beauty. The mountains are still a haven for wild animals, and the small villages are still outposts of tranquility and self-reliance in the remote Siberian Taiga, as the forest is called.
Valley of Geysers- Kamchatka Krai
One of the largest geyser fields in the world, and the only one in Eurasia, Valley of Geysers in Kamchatka is a part of UNESCO World Heritage site “Volcanoes of Kamchatka”. It was discovered in 1941 by Kronotsky reserve geologist Tatyana Ustinova and observer Anisifor Krupenin. It has since been a renowned tourist attraction. It was elected as one of the seven wonders of Russia in 2008. In 2007, it suffered seriously from a landslide, and about half of all the geysers were buried and flooded. On January 4th, 2014, another massive landslide happened. Nevertheless, the valley survived, and attracts interest from tourists and scientists alike.
Mamayev Kurgan- Volgograd Oblast
Stalingrad, later renamed Volgograd, witnessed one of the bloodiest battles in history. The heavy losses felt by the German army broke the initiative they had in the East, making the Battle of Stalingrad arguably the most strategically decisive battle of WWII. Twenty-four years after the battle, in October 1967, “The motherland Calls” a monument designed by Yevgeny Vuchetich, consists of a concrete sculpture 52 meters tall, and 82 meters from the feet to the tip of the stainless steel sword, dominating the skyline of the city of Volgograd. During construction, it was the tallest sculpture in the world.
Peterhof- Saint Petersburg
The palace and park at Peterhof are one of St. Petersburg’s most famous and popular visitor attractions, and is often referred to as “The Russian Versaille”, although many visitors conclude that the comparison does a disservice to the grandeur and scope of this majestic estate. Versailles however, was the inspiration for Peter the Great’s desire to build an imperial palace in the suburbs of his new city. The estate was popular with Peter’s granddaughter, Empress Elizabeth, who ordered the expansion of the Grand Palace and greatly extended the park and the famous system of fountains, including the truly spectacular Grand Cascade.
Manpupuner Rock Formations- Komi Republic
Formed through the weathering effects of ice and wind, the Manpupuner Rock Formation, or “The Seven Strong Men Rock Formations” or “The Poles of the Komi Republic” are a set of 7 gigantic abnormally shaped stone pillars, located to the west of the Ural Mountains in the Komi Republic. They are around 30-42m high, and jut out of a hilly plateau. Deemed one of the Seven Wonders of Russia, the Manpupuner Rock Formations are a very popular attraction in Russia, though not well known internationally, and relatively unspoiled by tourism. Their abnormal shapes and height supposedly make the top of the giant rocks inaccessible even to the most experienced rock climbers, however, Stefan Glowacz climbed at least one of them in 2013.
Mount Elbrus- Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia
One of the highest peaks in Europe, Mount Elbrus is one of the “Seven Summits”. It’s located just barely in Russia, though just a few miles away is the border for Georgia. Even though Mount Elbrus is the highest summit in Europe, it is technically one of the easiest of the higher peaks on the continent. The mountain is in the Caucasus Mountains, which is one of the most rugged mountain ranges in the world. Mount Elbrus may not be very rugged, but that isn’t the story with all the surrounding mountains. Mount Elbrus is an extinct volcano, erupting last, around 50AD. Its crater is filled with snow and ice.
If you’re planning a trip to Russia, you should download the “Russia beyond the Headlines” app from the Apple ITunes Store, to see beautiful pictures, videos, and to learn more about Russia before making the journey over. Keep in mind that you may have to use a VPN in order to access some websites, as many websites are region restricted. A VPN will assign you a new IP address that will allow you to bypass these restrictions. There is so much beauty and awe-inspiring sights in Russia. It’s no wonder that it’s a popular travel destination. Have a wonderful time!