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TRANSSIB - NIZHNI NOVGOROD
Some people think that Transsib means the way that connects Ural with Far East and goes through Siberia (Trans-Siberian). But in reality it's different and the contradiction comes from the name that English travellers gave to it -'Trans-Siberian Railway' instead of 'Great Siberian Way' (this would be the litteral translation from Russian) but then this name have rooted in Russian language.

And now the term Transsib means the way, that connects Center and Pacific Ocean, Moscow and Vladivostok and in broader meaning - ports of West with Russian capital and ways to Europe (Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Brest, Kaliningrad) with ports of the East and ways to Asia.

Transsib - is the road that gave an impulse to the settling and developing of eastern areas of Russia and involvment of them into economy of the other part of great country.

The first major destination after Moscow:
Nizhni Novgorod, 400 km east of Moscow, lies at the confluence of the Volga and Oka Rivers. Nowadays it is big industrial and cultural center in the Volga region.

Nizhni Novgorod was founded in the beginning of the 13th century. At the end of 19th century, it was a major commercial center of Russia, one of the most significant in Europe. All the architecture of the center of the city corresponds to the Russian merchants way of living.

Highlights & Sightseeing

Historical & Architectural
The Nizhni Novgorod Kremlin the central part of the ancient town, which occupies a relatively small territory on a hill where the Oka River enters into the Volga River.

Culture
Bolshoye Boldino, about 250 km away, is the land that previously belonged to Pushkins ancestors. In 1836, Alexander Pushkin spent few months there and it gave the world the miraculous Fall of Boldino.

The Art Museum is called a miniature Tretyakov Gallery: the extensive collection of the museum comprises about 8,000 works of art. It contains many valuable paintings by nearly all-outstanding Russian artists among which there are a number of masterpieces of Russian art.

Ethnography & Crafts
The Nizhni Novgorod Region has always been renowned for its folk crafts Khokhloma (town of Semenov, about 70 km away) and Gorodets (about 70 km away) - multicoloured gilt-shining painting on wood, Balakhna lace and Pavlovo filigree.

KAZAN
Kazan, the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan, is often called the Pearl of the Central Volga Region. It is located in the most picturesque part on both sides of the Volga River.
Though the official date of the foundation of the city is considered to be the 12th century, scientists believe that the history of Kazan began much earlier.

Highlights & Sightseeing

Historical & Architectural
The Kazan Kremlin - the pearl of city, the white-stone architectural ensemble of the 16-18th centuries, is included in the list of objects of the world heritage of UNESCO. St.Peter and Paul Cathedral was built in 1726 in memory of the Great Russian emperor Peter I.
Mardzhani Mosque, which was built in 1771, is one of first stone mosques, appeared in Kazan by accord of the Russian Empress Catherine II.

Culture
The Fine Arts Museum of Kazan contains about 20 thousand items of painting, graphics, sculpture and applied art of the Tatar people.
The International Festival of Opera Art named after Fyodor Shalyapin takes place in Kazan each February.
The International Festival of Classic Ballet named after Rudolf Nuriev in Kazan is held every May.

Ethnography & Crafts

Old Kazan atmosphere is preserved in the former Tatar settlement with its narrow streets, wooden houses and carved fences.
Archeological findings of 7-8 centuries of the Bulgar craftsmen-ancestors of Kazan Tatars - ornaments of silver, gold and semiprecious stones, colorful embroidery on the towels, footwear with a multi-colored leather mosaic, sacred shamails, - are exhibited at the Kazan Fine Arts Museum.

YEKATERINBURG
Yekaterinburg is a historical, administrative and economic center of the Ural Region. In the Soviet time, the city was named Sverdlovsk after prominent Soviet leader Yakov Sverdlov, who used to be one of the leaders of the October revolt in Russia (1917).

It owes its appearance on the world map to the time of major changes in Russia - the reforms of Peter the Great. The city was founded in 1723 and developed as a fortress, gradually turning into the center of the Ural Region. It was here that the Russian industry was born.

Yekaterinburg became the place of imprisonment and tragic events in the life of the last Russian Emperor Nicholas II and his family.

Highlights & Sightseeing

Historical & Architectural
Yekaterinburg is rich in sights - architectural monuments of Russian classicism of the 18-19th centuries including the most beautiful - the Church of Alexander Nevsky and the Church of the Ascension.
Yekaterinburg still keeps some secrets from the public as the place of imprisonment and tragic events in the life of the Romanovs family. The truth of the story of the Russian Emperor Nicholas II and his family is somewhere there.

Culture
The Fine Arts Museum of the city displays rich collection of paintings by Russian and foreign artists.

Nature
The Ural Mountains form a natural border between Europe and Asia. The Geological Museum features rich and unique collection of minerals of the region.

Ethnography & Crafts
Since Yekaterinburg is the place where Russian metallurgy was born one can find a lot of information about ferrous metallurgy. Iron and cast iron from the Urals as well as masterpieces of Kasly castings (named after the town of Kasly) are exhibited at the Fine Arts Museum.
Beautiful samples of woodcarving are re-presented in the village of Nizhnaya Si-nyatchikha.

OMSK
Omsk, founded in 1716, is the second largest Western Siberian city by population, a large port on the Irtysh River (the city extends over 40 km along the banks).

At the end of the 19th century, the Transsiberian Railway connected Omsk with the European part of Russia and remote Eastern areas of the country. During the 20th century, the city of Omsk has become well known as the center of political life.

The present-day Omsk is an industrial center of the Eastern Siberia. Several big enterprises of different branches of the Russian economics - the petrochemical, chemical, aircraft-building and heavy engineering industry are situated there.

Highlights & Sightseeing

Historical & Architectural
A visit to the Church of St. Nicolas that is a beautiful sample of architecture of 18th 19th centuries will open you few pages of the Russian history.

Culture
World famous Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky condemned to penal servitude spent there four years (1850 1854). Commandant of the Fortress of Omsk paid a special attitude to this state convict and gave F. Dostoevsky a small room in his house. Nowadays the former House of the Commandant of the Fortress is the Fyodor Dostoevsky Museum. The famous novel Notes from a Dead House reflects events of that period of writers life.

The Fine Arts Museum of Omsk possesses a nice collection of more than 16,000 pieces of art including pictures, painted by European and Russian artists and some beautiful golden decorations excavated by archaeologists in the Omsk region.

Nature
The Local Lore Museum presents interesting collection of fauna and flora samples, which are typical for the region.

Ethnography & Crafts
The Siberian Antiquity Museum reflects a born-again interest in the region to exhibit the best works of local craftsmen. The new log-house Every year the Omsk Chamber of Trade and Industry opens a competition for participants in the International Armaments Exhibition. The aims in view: promote manufacture of quality and competitive Russian products, introduction of highly efficient and front-paced conversion technologies at Russian enterprises, as well as expansion of business contacts, promotion of Russian products to domestic and foreign markets.

NOVOSIBIRSK
Novosibirsk is the largest city of Siberia and its scientific center. The Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences and branches of the Medical and Agricultural Academies are located here. This is the non-official capital of the Western Siberia. Its 1st centenary was celebrated in 1993.

When established it was a settlement of the workers who constructed the Transsiberian railway. From 1895 till 1925, it was called Novonikolayevsk. That name meant, a new town named after Nikolai (the Russian Emperor Nicholas II). The present name of the city means a new city of Siberia in Russian.
Highlights & Sightseeing

Historical & Architectural
The Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre is called the Siberian Bolshoi Theatre.
The Local Lore Museum presents the history of the city and the region. Great opportunity to enjoy Siberian landscapes and to see typical Siberian village of Kolyvan where a nunnery and small candle-making factory are supposed to be visited.

Culture
Akademgorodok (The Scientists City) is well known to scientists all over the world. It is a complex of research institutes, situated 28 km from the center of Novosibirsk among a natural green forest.
The Picture Gallery contains a rich collection of Russian and foreign art including new exposition of traditional Siberian icon-paintings. The Picture Gallery is famous for its big collection of Roerich paintings displayed there.

Nature
Novosibirsk is the nearest big city to the geographical center of Russia placed on the picturesque banks of the wide and beautiful Ob River. The unique collection of the geological museum of the Scientists City attracts attention of many tourists. More information about natural peculiarities of the region available at the Flora and fauna Museum in Novosibirsk.

Ethnography & Crafts
The open-air Museum of Ethnography is located on the bank of the Ob River in Novosibirsk. Ancient stone idols are on display in the museum.
The Zashiverskaya wooden church built without a single nail is exposed at the Museum of the Archeological Institute of the Russian Academy of Science (the Scientists City).
Lovely collection of articles made of birch bark might impress you at the Birch Bark Folk-crafts Museum that can be visited during the city tour.

KRASNOYARSK
Krasnoyarsk is a large scientific and cultural center of Eastern Siberia, besides it is the largest Siberian port on the Yenisei River. The city was founded in 1628 by Russian explorers directed their steps to the Far East. In their report to the Russian Tsar, they described the place as beautiful steep bank. That is the meaning of the name of the city of Krasnoyarsk in Russian.

Highlights & Sightseeing

Historical & Architectural
The City Tour enables you to see the most interesting spots in Krasnoyarsk - the Intercession Cathedral; the Chapel on the Karaulnaya (Guard) Mountain, and the Transsiberian Railway Road bridge over the Yenisei River.
The Krasnoyarsk Hydroelectric Power Plant Tour is a rare possibility to visit one of the hugest hydroelectric power plants in the world.
The Chapel, the Bridge and the Power Plant are three highlights of the city imprinted on the 10 rubles bank notes of the Russian State Bank.

Culture
The Surikov Art Museum has more than 13,000 exhibit items including Russian and modern painting, graphics, sculptures, and decorative art. The Museum possesses the unique collection of paintings of this famous Russian artist of 19th-20th century.

Nature
The variety and beauty of the Krasnoyarsk Region are striking high mountains and deep canyons, the boundless and thick taiga where one can see ermines, polar foxes, deer and bears.
The Yenisei Pillars Tour half-day itinerary will lead you to the State Natural Reserve that is situated near the city on the right bank of the Yenisei River and it is well known for its unique natural granite structures, which rise up to 100 m high.
The Geological Museum of The Central Siberia presents more than 35 thousand samples of minerals and rocks which is one of the biggest collection in Russia.

Ethnography & Crafts
The Local Lore Museum is constructed in a style of an ancient Egyptian temple and it houses a number of halls with rich collection of archeological and ethnographical displays.
A visit to the Surikov Art Museum gives possibility to get acquainted with special collection of arts and crafts.

IRKUTSK
Irkutsk, one of the oldest Siberian cities, is situated in the Eastern Siberia on a picturesque bank of the Angara River, 65 km from the Lake of Baikal. Irkutsk was founded as a small settlement in 1661 and soon got the status of a city. At the end of the 17th century, Irkutsk turned into the most important transit point on trade routes from Russia to China and Mongolia. The nature of the Irkutsk region provides great opportunities for hunting and fishing. It always attracts those who would like not only to enjoy the beauty of Siberia, but also to test themselves in a tour of a gamesmanship.

Highlights & Sightseeing

Historical & Architectural
The City Tour of Irkutsk might impress you with different sights illustrating the history of Russian state. You will see the oldest brick building of the city - The Church of Our Savior (constructed in 17th century). In the 19th century, some noble people (among them Prince Trubetskoy, Prince Volkonsky and others) were exiled to Irkutsk region after an 1825-year armed revolt in St. Petersburg.
The members of the Decembrists families were buried in the Znamensky (Our Lady of the Sign) Nunnery.

Culture
The Irkutsk Art Museum houses a number of various paintings, icons, arts and crafts. One of the most significant collections of icons and wooden sculptures of the 15-18th centuries in Siberia is exposed there. The city Art Gallery exhibits a rich collection of Chinese porcelain and paintings by famous Russian artists.

Nature
The Lake of Baikal being invariably called The Pearl of Siberia is a unique natural phenomenon not only of the Asian continent but also of the Planet. It is the deepest lake in the world and is estimated to contain one-fifth of all the Earths fresh surface water. A full day tour enables you to visit the Limnological Museum (the Baikal Ecology Museum) in Listvyanka, enjoy a short cruise in the Lake of Baikal and makes possible to visit the Open Air Museum of Wooden Architecture and Ethnography Taltsy.

Ethnography & Crafts
The Open Air Museum of Wooden Architecture and Ethnography Taltsy is situated in a picturesque place on the bank of the Angara River and represents a common Siberian village. Authentic wooden buildings of 17-19th centuries carried away from different parts of the Irkutsk region were reassembled at one place presenting Russian, Evenk and Buryat way of living. Tour to this museum might be included into full day tour itinerary to the Lake of Baikal.

ULAN-UDE
Ulan-Ude is the capital of the Buryat Republic of the Russian Federation. It is situated at the junction of the Selenga and the Uda Rivers, on a crossroad of trading routes leading from China and Mongolia to Russia and Europe. The settlement of Nizhnyudinsk (former name of Ulan-Ude) was founded in 1666 as a winter outpost of the Russian Cossacks.

Buryatia is a unique land with its wild and virgin nature, endless steppes, alpine meadows and taiga, Buddhist temples, nomads tents and shamans. The region provides great possibilities for ecotourism - horseback riding, hiking, trekking, boating and fishing.

Highlights & Sightseeing

Historical & Architectural
The Ivolginsky Datsan (Buddhist Monastery), built in 1945, is the main active Buddhist religion centre in Russia. The Tibet Buddhism Lamaism, represents Buddhism in Russia. Nowadays the Ivolginsky Datsan is the residence of the leader of all Russian Lamas.
During the excursion to the Ivolginsky Datsan youll witness and take part in services of the temple and visit the sanctuary Obo at the top of a mountain.

Culture
The History Museum of Buryatia established in 1923, exhibits unique samples of cultural heritage of the Buryat region.
In the Fine Arts Museum youll get a chance to see the Buryats art painting, rare traditional Buryat art such as Buddhist tancas and crafts made of wood, animal skins, horsehair, bone and silver cut.
The rich theoretical and practical heritage of Tibetan medicine is mastered by the new generation of the Tibetan Medicine Centre. Those who are interested in the field of Tibetan Medicine and Philosophy will enjoy the rich collection of manuscripts and ancient Tibetan books during the tour to the Centre.

Nature

The Lake of Baikal the deepest and the purest on the Earth is situated in 2-3 hours drive from Ulan-Ude. It contains 20 per cent of the worlds fresh-water supply and forms a gigantic 636 km long basin shaped as a half-moon in a mountainous taiga frame. Over 50 classes of fish inhabit the Lake Baikal including omul, which is the unique fish of Baikal. A full day tour to the Lake of Baikal will charge your memory with unforgettable impressions and will enable you to gain new experience.

Ethnography & Crafts
Visit to the Russian Old-Believers village might be a remarkable event for you to discover life anew, to receive warm welcome, to appreciate the folk show and to taste dishes in preserved traditional style of Russian homemade cuisine.
In the Ethnographic Open-Air museum The 18th century Buryat village you will learn the way of living of the local Buryat population and Russian settlers. This visit gives you a chance to discover the history of the inhabitants of this land the outposts of taiga hunters and fishermen Evenks and light Buryat felt yurts.

KHABAROVSK
Khabarovsk the industrial, transport, and administrative and cultural center was founded in 1858 as a military outpost for defense of the Russian-Chinese border and named in honor of Yerofei Khabarov the Russian explorer of Siberia and the Far East.
It stretches for 45 km along the bank of the Amur River the main waterway of the Far East and one of the biggest Russian rivers. Khabarovsk is a large port famous for its river-sea operations.

Highlights & Sightseeing


Historical & Architectural
The City Tour along wooden and brick houses preserved from the time of the citys founding will enable you to feel an unmistakable charm of Khabarovsk. The oldest Komsomolskaya Square houses the remarkable redbrick building dating 1901(now the Public Library). Splendid view of the St.Innokenty church the first built in the city.
During the Stalins era, a GULAG Camp existed near the Ulakhan village (not far from the city). Visit to this place might remind the people of the necessity to forgive the tortures, pray for the innocent suffered there and pure the world with the power of love.
The Archaeological Museum contains over 40,000 artifacts; among them, there are the world famous petrogliphs of Sikachi Alyan and cultural heritage of the Golden Empire of the Jurchen People.

Culture
The Local Lore Museum is famous for its rare exhibits, i.e. a Steller cow skeleton (sea cow now fully extinct), a mammal from the past, mammoth tusks, bison skull, e.t.c.
The Art Museum possesses a unique collection of the Far Eastern aboriginal crafts and arts that includes fish skin outfits, beautiful carpets and bone engraved items. Some wonderful ancient Russian icons and paintings by famous Russian artists Ilya Repin, Ivan Shishkin and Isaac Levitan, as well as works by Western masters, such as Rembrandt, Rubens and Monet are exhibited in the Art Museum.

Nature
The Cruise along the Amur River is might be a beautiful journey within a live archeological museum. The riverside rocks make a nice display of man-made carvings petrogliphs that are the images of ancient cultural heritage of local ethnic groups.
The Bolshekhetsirsky State Nature Preserve has conifer-broadleaved forests rich in typically virgin nature and genetic stock of organic life. In 30 miles to the southwest of the city, there is the Khekhtsir State Nature Reserve, a unique place where southern lianas, Manchurian walnuts grow side by side with evergreen conifers.
Bears, foxes, wolves, elks and tigers could be watched occasionally there. The Badjal Range one of the most picturesque parts of the Russian Far East with unique flora and fauna is abundant in sable, musk deer and bears.

Ethnography & Crafts
Tour to the Nanai Village Sikachi Alyan includes a visit to a local school with a small museum, which exhibits ancient articles of the Nanai people, folk performance with national cuisine and visit to the riverside rocks with a beautiful display of ancient manmade carvings or petroglyphs.

VLADIVOSTOK
Vladivostok is the administrative, cultural and scientific center of Russia in the Far East situated along the coast of the Pacific Ocean in the beautiful bay of the Golden Horn. The history of the city began in 1860 when the Russian warship the Manchur anchored in the bay of the Amur Gulf. It became the main Russian port on the Pacific Ocean in 1873. Now it is main naval base of the Russian Pacific Fleet. Today Vladivostok it is the capital of the Primorsky region (the Maritime Territory) of Russia. Due to its advantageous location in close proximity of China, Korea, and Japan, it plays important role as a center of political and business contacts of Russia in the Far East.

Highlights & Sightseeing

Historical & Architectural
The City Tour will give you possibility to visit the most spectacular sights - the Vladivostok Fortress with exciting exposition of military maps, arms, equipment and old photographs; enjoy the architectural poem in stone that are the St. Nicolas Cathedral, the Intercession Church, the Catholic church and the Japanese Buddhist Temple. In the Korabelnaya Naberezhnaya (the Warship Embankment) the visitors can get acquainted with the history of the Russian Fleet including period of the Second World War and visit Soviet C-56 submarine opened to public.

Culture
The Primorye Picture Gallery houses more than 5,000 paintings of Russian artists (18th-20th centuries) and ancient Russian icons.
Museum of the Institute of History, Archeology and Ethnography of the Far Eastern People houses a rich collection of exhibits on the theme Medieval History of the Amur River region and the Maritime Territory (VII-XIII centuries).

Nature
The Vladivostok Aquarium (Oceanarium) features live exposition of 86 species and over 1,800 kinds of marine life in aquariums, representing a variety of inhabitants of the Peter the Great Gulf and other water reservoirs of the region and a collection of shells. Greenhouses of the Botanical Garden display rare plants from all of the continents. Representative species of the Far Eastern taiga, from cedar and spruce to lianas and Amur marigold, grow there. The six wildlife preserves (among them most significant - the Cedar Fold, the Khanka Natural Preserve) provide a wide variety of experiences to view wildlife and nature.

Ethnography & Crafts
The Arsenyev Primorsky Krai Museum (the Lore Museum of the Maritime territory) was opened in 1890 to present to the public rich information on nature and history of the region, ethnography and archeology.

MANZHOULI
A few hours to the west of Hailar is MANZHOULI , on the border with Russia. There is a daily train here from Hailar, and the Trans-Siberian train from Beijing to Moscow also passes through once a week in each direction. The town has important steam locomotive yards, which you can visit, and not far to the south of town is the great lake Dalai Hu (Hulun Nur in Mongolian), a shallow expanse of water set in marshy grazing country where flocks of swans, geese, cranes and other migratory birds come to nest. The grasslands in this region are said to be the greenest in all Mongolia.

North of Hailar is a true wilderness, the final frontier of China. Here are some of the last great areas of untouched primeval forest in the country, a natural habitat for the wolf and the much-threatened Manchurian tiger.