Multinational Russia is a delicious blend of different cultures. It may not be obvious in the likes of Moscow and St.Petersburg, but there are still places where traditions live on. From the architectural marvels of Kizhi pogost, to a 16th-century Lapland village, here are seven places for your must-visit list.
The world-famous gem of Russian Karelia, Kizhi pogost is one of the first open-air museums in Russia. Founded in 1966, the museum-reserve is home to over 40,000 artefacts from the indigenous peoples of Karelia: Karelians, Vepsians and Russians. The museum’s collection comprises 87 architectural monuments, but the island’s major draw is the 18th century Church of the Transfiguration. The 37 meter (121 feet)-tall wooden masterpiece is believed to be built with only one axe and no nails whatsoever. Here you can learn about traditional local crafts, such as boat building, embroidering and toy-making and visit a bell-ringing festival.
Kizhi pogost, Kizhi Island, Republic of Karelia, Russia, +7 814 253 57 22
The oldest Slavic settlement on Kola Peninsula dating back to 1466, Umba stretches along the shore of the White Sea. This old Pomeranian village enthralls with its century-old wooden huts and boat sheds, log banyas and boarded pavements. Come here in June and you’ll witness the annual Pomeranian rowing regatta, taste traditional fish soup and stock up on souvenirs at the seasonal fair.
Buckle up for an ultimate husky adventure in the ethnic entertainment center Husky Land, which is only an hour drive from Moscow. Experience the culture of people of the north with dog sledding, raw shaman rituals, rawhide tents, and traditional craft classes.
Husky Land, 15 Krylatskaya Street, д. 15, Moscow, Russia, + 7 985 788 91 18
Founded in the 1574, Lovozero village is the capital of Russian Lapland and the cultural center of the Sami people – aboriginal reindeer farmers. Discover Sami history in the local cultural center and watch colorfully-dressed Sami people at work at the Tundra reindeer farm. Lovozero is a great place to visit in any season: there are white nights in summer, so you have more time for fishing and having fun at the annual festival Sami games. In winter you can explore Tundra on snowmobile, admire northern lights and try your luck at the Polar Olympics.
Ethnographic park and museum wrapped in one, Ethnomir is an exciting mix of history, culture and traditions from all over the globe. Besides discovering Russian culture in the Museum of Russian Stove, you’ll learn about traditions from the Balkans, China, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Belorussia and much more. After exploring ethnic “yards” and getting crafty at workshops, you can feed poultry and play with the husky dogs.
Ethnomir, Petrovo, Kaluga Region, Russia, +7 495 710 73 44
In Kenozersky National Park you’ll find yourself in a Russian folktale, wandering around traditional log huts and other masterpieces of wooden architecture surrounded by thick forest and crystal lakes. Discover the times when people practiced tree-worship, and learn more about 18th- and 19th-century burial grounds, as well as 18th-century barns, and authentic windowless log huts. With more than 150 historic monuments, Kenozersky National Park is home to Russia’s largest collection of ‘heaven’ – decorated ceilings in wooden churches. Here you can stay in an authentic Russian izba log huts, catch a pike the way they did in ancient times, and taste the northern specialty – multigrain northern porridge.
Spread over a territory of 120 hectares, this open-air museum will take your breath away with 120 wooden constructions from between the 16th and 20th centuries. The exhibition is divided into four sections, where you can see authentic izba log huts, wooden merchant mansions, water wells and windmills, churches and chapels, all of which look exactly like they used to in Northern villages. The museum is also home to Russia’s oldest bell-tower dating back to the 16th century, and 17th century wooden churches. Apart from authentic wooden architecture, here you can enjoy Russian orthodox bell ringing, listen to Russian folklore songs and have a cup of tea from a samovar.
Malaya Korely, Arkhangelsk Region, Moscow, Russia, + 7 818 220 41 64