Russia is an expanse of ever-changing landscapes, from the city of St Petersburg to the majesty of Moscow. River cruises take you straight to the heart of these picturesque ports, revealing Russia’s soul and making you long to return as soon as you head back home.
This popular river cruise port is found along the Volga river. Painting a perfect picture of Russian life in a petite town of just 40,000 residents, a visit here is like a step back in time. Several monuments date back to the 1600s, including Uglich Kremlin and the Church of St. Dimitry on the Blood, built on the spot where Tsar Alexander II was murdered in 1881.
Uglich is a testament to the history of its homeland, still standing strong today. Learn about the process of making Russian vodka in Pyotr Smirnoff or visit the Resurrection Monastery for stunning whitewashed walls, towering spires and gold-shingled cupolas.
Nestled between the Neva river and the Gulf of Finland, St Petersburg is an architectural dream. From onion domes to golden brickwork, it is a treasure trove of beauty waiting to be explored.
The Peter and Paul Fortress, built in 1703, was one of the first to be erected in St Petersburg and is the final resting place for many of Russia’s pre-revolutionary leaders. Marble and majestic frescoes cover the interior, accompanied by a 30m iconostasis that depicts 43 religious icons. Another unforgettable building is the golden-domed, 19th Century St Isaac’s cathedral, a fantastic place to see wonderful, panoramic views of the city.
Travel along the Svir river on the western side of Russia and you reach Lake Onega, home to the idyllic island of Kizhi. Home to Kizhi Poghost: two stunning wooden churches – Church of the Transfiguration and Church of the Intercession – built in the 17th Century. Between them, 31 onion domes rest on their roofs, built in a style previously used throughout northern Russia and Scandinavia. Recognised by both UNESCO and the Russian Cultural Heritage, the dimension and shapes of the buildings are otherworldly yet soothing to see, making them unmissable for all river cruisers.
Found along the Volga just before it meets the Kama river, Kazan is a city that is bright, bold and beautiful. The Kul Shairf Mosque is an aquamarine-domed, green-windowed, whitewashed mosque initially built in the 16th Century. The original was destroyed in 1552, but restorative works have led to the mosque becoming a museum of Islam holding manuscripts, costumes and furniture.
Another multi-coloured construction in this paint palette of landmarks is the Temple of All Religions, a centre combining the world’s major faiths to achieve harmony and peaceful coexistence. With construction beginning in 1994, the temple was designed with sixteen domes to represent each of the major religions. The greens, blues and yellows in the stained-glass, mosaics and external paintwork splash a spectacular wash of colour across the landscape.
As Russia’s capital and the home to most of the country’s population, Moscow is a magical municipal, boasting historical, geographical and spiritual ties in the ancient buildings and modern lifestyles of the city. Reached by the Moskva river banks, most cruises will divert from the Volga River for a special trip to this destination.
Listen to the church bells as you walk streets dotted with almost 600 churches, and spot the glittering domes, grand cathedrals and historic fortresses. Indulge in the arts at the Bolshoi Theatre where ballerinas bound across the stage or visit the very place where Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture debuted at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Reach Red Square, the centre of Moscow, and peer at perfectly-formed St Basil’s Cathedral. An artistic amalgamation of colours, patterns and shapes, it is an icon of Russian architecture and is Moscow’s masterpiece.
Russia is an expansive plain to explore, with river cruises visiting these destinations, and more, to make each trip unforgettable. Each city has a history and cultural significance, whether apparent in the architecture or the colourful culture; river cruises here will make you fall in love and return time and time again.
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