Vodka and bears on the streets are what most people think about when Russia is mentioned, but there are many more interesting and sometimes strange facts about Russia that will make you wonder and even challenge common stereotypes. Here are 14 facts we bet you didn’t know about Russia.
The matryoshka doll has its roots in Japan
The famous Russian wooden doll, matryoshka, has a link to Japan. The story goes that Russian artist Sergey Malyutin, who was working on a design for a Russian wooden doll, was gifted a Japanese daruma doll, which had other dolls hidden inside it. The first-ever matryoshka, consisting of eight dolls, was made in the 1890s by wooden doll master Zvyozdochkin, who used Malyutin’s drawings.
Tetris came from Russia
Although this game gained world popularity, the first edition of Tetris was invented in 1984 in former USSR by programmer and scientist Alexey Pazhitnov.
Petergof – the town of fountains
Petergof was created in the first half of eighteenth century by order of Peter the Great and was supposed to rival the famous Versailles in luxuriousness. Four gigantic cascades were constructed on site with over 150 fountains. The most remarkable of them is Bolshoy cascade, which is comprised of 64 fountains and 225 bronze sculptures.
The longest railroad
The Trans-Siberian Railroad is the longest in the world; its length is 9,289 kilometers (5,772 miles) and crosses eight time zones. To travel the whole railroad, you would need to spend around a week in a train.
Jets for Instagram lovers
Russians take many things seriously, and Instagram is one of them. For those who dream of snapping striking photos on a private jet, there is a solution: a business jet converted into a photo studio. For $240 (£180) you can have the two-hour photo shoot of your life.
The coldest inhabited town on Earth is in Russia
The town of Oymyakon, in the Yakutia region, Siberia, is considered to be one of the coldest inhabited towns on Earth. The coldest temperature was recorded in 1938 at a jaw-dropping -77.8°C (-108°F). The average temperature in December and January is not much warmer at -50°C (-58°F).
Suzdal is the town of churches
Suzdal is a small town only 15 square meters (5.8 square miles) in size, but it is also one of the major tourist attractions in Russia. The reason is its collection of famous Suzdal churches. There are over 55 of them, each with its own distinctive style and architecture.
The deepest metro in the world
Saint Petersburg metro is not only beautiful, it is also the deepest metro in the world. Its average depth reaches 100 meters (328 ft), which also explains why metro escalators take so long.
Cats have jobs
Hermitage museum is a national treasure of Russia, and cats are a treasure of the Hermitage. These guardians protect priceless works of art from rats and are valued by the whole staff. Each cat even has a personal passport with a photo and receives a regular salary.
In Russia, they play golf with helicopters
In Moscow’s suburbs, you can participate in a curious and unique sport: helicopter golf. The idea of the game is close to traditional golf, although the scale is much bigger. Players guide the one meter (3 ft) in diameter ball through the snowy route, using a 10 kilogram (22 pound) stick. All the while, the players drive a helicopter, of course.
Russia is basically forest
Russian territory is huge, and the majority of it is Siberia. In other words, Russia is 60% forest. What’s more interesting, half of that forest is totally uninhabited by humans.
The biggest fortress in the world
Moscow’s Kremlin is the biggest existing medieval fortress in the world. Its territory spans more than 27 hectares (67 acres). The walls are over 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) long. Twenty towers are sprinkled across the grounds, each with its own personal name (apart from two anonymous towers).
Russia has the cheapest Internet in the world
According to a study conducted by the Be Mobile project, Russia has the cheapest access to the Internet in the world. The study compared Internet prices in the 50 countries with the biggest GDP. Russia is followed by Poland, Taiwan and Kazakhstan in Internet affordability.
Not just a ballet
When someone mentions ‘Swan lake’, most recall a famous ballet by Tchaikovsky. Did you know there is an actual Swan Lake in the Altai region? This clear reservoir doesn’t freeze even in the winter due to the hot springs that fill the lake. Due to this, it has become a wintering place for thousands of swans every year.