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Things to Do in Russia - page 5

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Red October Chocolate Factory (Krasny Oktyabr)
1 Tour and Activity

Once a chocolate factory producing some of Russia’s most popular chocolate, the Red October Chocolate Factory (Krasny Oktyabr) was the first industrial site in Moscow to be converted into artistic space. Located on Bolotny Island in the Moscow River, the complex itself dates back to the 19th century. In recent years, it has been transformed into a multi-purpose space featuring art and photo galleries, designers’ studios, television and web media headquarters and a variety of bars and cafes. It is also home to the Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design, which offers workshops, lectures and concerts for the public.

The Red October Chocolate Factory is especially popular on the weekends with bars and restaurants like Art Akademiya, Dome and Bar Strelka, the latter of which donates its proceeds to the Strelka Institute. It also boasts a lively clubbing scene for those looking to explore Moscow’s famous nightlife. And chocolate lovers can still pick up some of the beloved Red October chocolates from a small shop in the complex.

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Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Music Theatre

Created in 1941, the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Music Theatre may not be as well-known as the famous Bolshoi Theatre, but it has been staging world class opera and ballet performances for nearly a century. The theatre was formed by the combination of the Stanislavski Opera Theatre, originally founded in 1918, and the Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko Musical Theatre, which produced both musical comedy shows and opera from the 1920s.

Today, the theater is based in a building on Bolshaya Dmitrovka Street in the heart of Moscow and features one opera and two chamber music halls. The building was built on the site of Count Pyotr Saltykov’s estate and the lobby integrates remains of the estate dating from the mid-1800s.

While showing many classic operas and traditional Russian ballets, the theater is known for being bold and experimental. It was the first in Russia to perform ballets by Nacho Duato, Jiri Kylian and Jorma Elo and hosted the world premiere of Vladimir Kobekin’s Hamlet.

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Snowmaiden's Palace (Terem Snegurochki)

The Snowmaiden's Palace (Terem Snegurochki) is the home of the Russian fairy tale character Snegurochka. It is located a few hours northeast of Moscow in the town of Kostroma on Russia's famous Ring Road. Though the story varies, the Snow Maiden is usually depicted as a daughter, granddaughter, or helper of Father Christmas or Father Frost. The palace in Kostroma is a place where visitors can learn about the Russian folklore in a fantastical setting. It is a fun place for children to explore, hold birthday parties, and make all sorts of crafts including dolls and holiday decorations.

Children will believe in magic at the Snow Maiden's Palace. Several different rooms and programs bring them into the fairy tale world with games and holiday traditions throughout the year. Visitors can also learn about traditional Russian dances and other aspects of Russian culture, and it is an entertaining place for adults as well as kids.

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Winzavod Center for Contemporary Art (Vinzavod)

The Winzavod Center for Contemporary Art (Vinzavod) in Moscow is the heart of the city’s contemporary art scene. The seven industrial buildings that make up the center include the former home of Moscow’s oldest winery and what was once the second largest brewery in Moscow. The complex was later bought by one of the richest men in Russia, who established an art gallery with more than 500 paintings, making the Winzavod Center the oldest art gallery in Moscow.

Covering 20,000 square meters, the center is now home to four of Russia’s most prestigious contemporary art galleries, as well as artists’ studios, fashion showrooms, a photography studio, an avant-garde clothing store, a bookstore, an art-supply store and an art-café. Eight different halls within the complex can be used for special events such as lectures, festivals or art exhibitions. It also hosts the annual national photo contest, Best of Russia, which receives tens of thousands of entries from all over the country.

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State Historical Museum (Gosudarstvennyy Istoricheskiy Muzey)
7 Tours and Activities

The State Historical Museum (Gosudarstvennyy Istoricheskiy Muzey) in Moscow is a must for anyone interested in learning more about Russian history. Opened in 1894, the museum was the result of a 20-year project to consolidate multiple archaeological and anthropological collections into a single museum. Set just off Red Square in a large Russian Revivalist building, the museum is home to more than four million objects covering 1,000 years of Russian history and the history of northeastern Eurasian civilizations.

Exhibits are presented mostly chronologically across 39 rooms, each of which focuses on a different era or region, such as Eastern Europe and Asia in the Middle Ages, the Old Russian State in the 9th to 12th Centuries, Craft and Trade in the 16th and 17th centuries, the era of Catherine the Great, the Russian Orthodox Church and Russian culture in the early 20th century. The entire second floor is devoted to Russia’s imperial period, with many personal items, palace decorations and furnishings on display. Other highlights include Scythian gold figures, funerary masks from Russia’s Altai region and the death mask of Peter the Great.

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Victory Museum

Encircled by poignant monuments and memorials, the Victory Museum—or the Museum of the Great Patriotic War—is the focal point of Moscow’s Victory Park (Park Pobedy). Opened in 1995 to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, it’s Russia’s largest and most important museum of military history.

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The Anna Akhmatova Museum

Opened in 1989 to mark the centennial of her birth, the Anna Akhmatova Museum in the Fountain House of Sheremetev Palace celebrates the life and works of one of Russia’s most renowned poets. The 2-time Nobel Prize nominee lived here for over 20 years; enthusiasts can get a sense of where she worked and view her personal effects.

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Leningrad Zoo St. Petersburg

With a history dating back to 1865, the Leningrad (St. Petersburg) Zoo is Russia’s oldest zoo and remains a popular family attraction. The zoo, located in the heart of the city, is home to around 2,000 animals, including over 410 species, the most famous of which are its resident polar bears.

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Planet Neptune Oceanarium

The first aquarium of its kind in Russia, the Planet Neptune Oceanarium transports visitors into an underwater world, with more than 4,500 fish and marine creatures. Over 150 different species are represented, including sharks, seals, stingrays, moray eels, and a variety of Russian fish.

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State Darwin Museum

The State Darwin Museum was the world’s first museum of evolution when it opened its doors in 1907, and it remains one of the largest of its kind. Spread over three floors, the vast permanent collection features more than 400,000 items, with interactive exhibits and multimedia displays making it fun and educational for all ages.

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More Things to Do in Russia

Museum of Optics

Museum of Optics

Explore the science behind sight, light, and optical illusions—the Museum of Optics explains it in a way that kids (and others with no prior knowledge) understand. Displays include holograms, colorful butterflies, a laser harp, and more.

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Ekzoopark

Ekzoopark

To see tropical animals in St. Petersburg, a city better known for its subzero winters, visit Ekzoopark. A family-friendly destination regardless of the weather, the indoor park is home to more than 400 species (some endangered) from habitats such as deserts, rain forests, and savannas.

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Piterland Aquapark

Piterland Aquapark

In St. Petersburg, it doesn’t really matter what the weather is doing outside, because it’s always warm inside Piterland Aquapark. Spend the day relaxing and having fun, taking full advantage of the park’s pools, waterslides, and saunas. Or, just lounge around under a palm tree on the artificial beach.

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St. Petersburg Planetarium (Sankt-Peterburgskiy Planetariy)

St. Petersburg Planetarium (Sankt-Peterburgskiy Planetariy)

Spend a few hours at the St. Petersburg Planetarium (Sankt-Peterburgskiy Planetariy) and learn all about Russia’s long history of space exploration. Attend a talk or film screening, gaze through telescopes in the observatory, or visit the “star hall.”

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Trampoline Park NEBO

Trampoline Park NEBO

Moscow’s enormous Trampoline Park NEBO is a family-friendly destination that older kids in particular will enjoy, especially on a cold or rainy day. Challenge yourself on trampolines, aerial walkways, or the climbing wall—or attempt an obstacle course or two. You can even take private trampolining lessons.

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Circus of Dancing Fountains

Circus of Dancing Fountains

At Aquamarine, The Dancing Fountains Circus, the show takes place with a backdrop of colorful water fountains that appear to dance. Both kids and adults enjoy this modern interpretation of a traditional circus, a fun complement to Moscow’s classical performing arts.

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St. Petersburg Cruise Port

St. Petersburg Cruise Port

6 Tours and Activities

The Port of St. Petersburg is the largest port in northwest Russia, serving as one of the world's most popular cruise destinations and the primary gateway between the Baltic Sea and Russia. Ships docking at the St. Petersburg Cruise Port do so in the heart of the city, at Vasilevsky Island.

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