Millions of people all over the world are fond of travelling. They travel to see other countries and continents, to discover different ways of life, to meet different people and to practise foreign languages. It goes without saying that travelling broadens the mind. While travelling we can see and learn a lot of things that we can never learn staying at home and watching TV or reading books. That's why a lot of foreign people come to Russia to get acquainted with Russian culture, with Russian customs and traditions.
Russia has always been a country of mystery attractive for foreigners. There are lots of villages and towns in Russia famous for their specific crafts: painted boxes in Palekh, wooden tableware in Khokhloma and toys in Dymkovo. Thousands of foreigners visit Russia to enjoy the typical Russian log houses, decorated with wood carvings.
Tourists like to visit old Russian towns and cities famous for their ancient architecture. They are especially attracted by Russian orthodox cathedrals, churches and monasteries. One of the most interesting old cities in Russia is Novgorod, or Novgorod the Great, as it was called in the old times. It is a treasury of architecture, painting and applied art created over the 11th to 17th centuries. The first records of the city on the Volkhov River date back to the year of 859. Now Novgorod has expanded far beyond its former limits. It is an important industrial and cultural centre, located on the busy highway linking Moscow and St. Petersburg.
The focal point of the city is the Detinets, or the Kremlin. The present-day Kremlin stems largely from the 15th century. Several alterations made in the 16th and 17th centuries were minor and did not affect its appearance. Novgorod's contribution to the development of Russian culture is outstanding. No other city excels Novgorod in the number of ancient monuments of architecture. The Novgorod Museum of History, Architecture and Art shows visitors the history of the medieval Novgorod. Its artistic value lies primarily in its collection of medieval icon painting.
There is a lot to see in Russia, but first of all foreign tourists visit the capital of our country, Moscow, its political, economic, commercial and cultural centre. They dream of visiting Red Square, which is called the heart of Moscow. Perhaps, the most ancient monument of Red Square is St. Basil's Cathedral. With its nine beautifully painted cupolas, it is a real masterpiece of ancient Russian architecture.
If you come to Moscow for the first time, you should by all means visit the Kremlin, which is very impressive. On the territory of the Kremlin you can see old cathedrals, the Bell Tower of Ivan the Great, the State Kremlin Palace, the Tsar Cannon and the Tsar Bell, the biggest cannon and bell in the world. The tallest Kremlin tower, the Spasskaya Tower, has become the symbol of the country.
If you leave the Kremlin by the Trinity Gate you will come to the Alexandrovsky Gardens. The first thing to do in the Gardens is to stand by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, still and silent. Not far from the Alexandrovsky Gardens, behind the Bolshoi Kamenny Bridge, you will see Christ the Saviour Cathedral, with its huge beautiful gilded dome. Foreigners are usually surprised by the number of churches and cathedrals in and around the city. There are also a lot of beautiful palaces, old mansions and monuments in Moscow.
There are more than 80 museums in our capital. The largest museums are the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, whose collections include works of art of the ancient Orient and ancient Egypt, and the State Tretyakov Gallery, which houses a rich collection of Russian painting and Russian icons. Other unique museums in Moscow are the State History Museum, the All-Russia Museum of Decorative, Applied and Folk Art, the Polytechnical Museum and many others. Moscow is famous for its theatres, too. The best-known of them is the Bolshoi Opera House. Drama theatres and studios are also very popular.
Another interesting place to visit in Moscow is the All-Russia Exhibition Centre which occupies an area of 530 acres. The Exhibition Centre is situated in a beautiful park. The most admired feature of the Exhibition Centre is its fountains. The "Friendship of the Nations" and the "Stone Flower" fountains are the most beautiful. The Exhibition Centre is a large cultural and commercial complex where different international exhibitions and fairs are held.
One of the most famous sights of the city is the Moscow Metro and a journey by Metro will be unforgettable. In the Metro you do not feel as if you're underground. This is due to the unique architecture and the artistic design of the stations, which are more like palaces. No two stations are alike; most of them have their own appearance.
Of course, every foreigner should visit St. Petersburg, the second largest city in Russia and one of the most splendid cities in the world. It was founded in 1703 by Peter the Great at the mouth of the Neva River. Now it is an important industrial, cultural and educational centre.
St. Petersburg is indeed a wonderful city: at every turn there is something to catch your eye. The Winter Palace, St. Isaac's Cathedral, the Peter-and-Paul Fortress, and the Admiralty Building attract thousands of tourists from every corner of the world. Petersburg's many museums house some of the world's most famous art collections. The Hermitage and the Russian Museum, for example, contain the richest collections of pictures in the world.
The city is called the Northern Venice, because there are 65 rivers, branches and canals there with artistically decorated bridges. It's also famous for its beautiful white nights.
There are a lot of Hero-cities in our country. And I would recommend that my foreign friends visit one of them. Volgograd is a legendary city, because here in 1943 the Soviet Army won the great and glorious victory over the fascists. The city was completely ruined during the war, but now it is a beautiful city again. It stands on the banks of the great Russian river Volga. The symbol of Volgograd is the Mamaev Hill. It was the centre of fighting during the heroic defence of Stalingrad. Now there is a great memorial there. Besides, you can visit the Stalingrad Battle Panorama Museum, which is situated on the bank of the Volga River. The centre of Volgograd is the Square of the Fallen Heroes. In the middle of it there is a granite obelisk and the common graves of the heroes of the Civil War and the Great Patriotic War. At the foot of the memorial you can see the Eternal Flame. Now Volgograd is a big industrial and cultural centre.
There are a lot of other interesting towns and cities in Russia, which are all worth visiting.