As the largest country in the world, Russia has certainly experienced its share of history, all of which has helped shape the nation into the successful empire that it is today - full of cultural and historic treasures and surrounded by beautiful and unspoiled nature. Moscow, the capital, plays host to visitors, who come to witness its innumerable restaurants, wide range of hotels and wealth of historically important monuments, including the magnificent Red Square, the glamorous Kremlin, the festive St Basils Cathedral, the refined New Maiden Convent and the fantastic Cathedral of Christ the Redeemer. St. Petersburg to the North, with its numerous canals sprinkled with palaces, pays homage to Peter the Great. The magnificently stylish city is an imperial capital that has much to offer. Officially proclaimed the "Cultural Capital of Russia", St. Petersburg's fascinating attractions include the Hermitage Museum and the Kirov Ballet of the Mariensky Theater. Known for domed churches, hand-painted wooden stacked Matrioshka dolls and beautifully lacquered boxes, Russia has clearly defined its culture as quite different from any other in the world. Russians are industrious, bright and hospitable people. They take great pride in everything they do from sports to arts and literature, apparent as we note figures such as Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov and how they have shaped contemporary music.
June, July and August are generally hot and the best times to visit, though expect rain any time from May through October. Snow can start falling as early as October, and lasts through March or April, and sometimes May. St. Petersburg, on the coast, has a milder climate than Moscow.
Due to its location near the Arctic Circle, during the summer, days in Moscow can be up to 17 hours long, and those in St. Petersburg can be 19 hours! These are the famous "white nights."
Physically, Russia is the largest country in the world, nearly twice the size of the United States. The vast country encompasses rivers, lakes, tundra, plains, grasslands, forests and mountains. One of the country's most notable features is Lake Baikal. Set in Siberia near the Mongolian border, it is the world's oldest and deepest freshwater lake.
Major Holidays & Events
In addition to the customary holidays, Russia traditionally celebrates:
January 1-6 - New Year's Day
January 7 - Russian Orthodox Christmas Day
February 23 - Defender of the Fatherland Day
March 8 - International Women's Day
May 1 & 9 - Spring and Labor Day & Victory Day
June 12 - Russia Day
October or November - Unity Day
November 1 - All Saints' Day
December 8, 25 & 26 - Immaculate Conception, Christmas & St. Stephen's Day