Posts under ‘Russia’

The Russian Concorde

A result of the cold war’s technology rivalry when the Soviet Union they copied many things the west made including the some pretty impressive technology including the Space Shuttle. Another of their copies was the Concorde, they produced a pretty similar supersonic get which they called the Tupolev TU-144. But they didn’t really pull it off to good and the plane was never certified to fly passengers. They had a bit of a media disaster at the Paris Airshow in 1973 where a TU144 fell out of the sky, break up and crash. They ended up using the plane for mail runs across Russia, then a second one crashed in 1978 followed by you guessed it a third a bit later and this was out of a fleet of 22 which included a prototype. The US ended up buying a few in the mid 90’s and refit them for testing of a future supersonic project. Today one of the remaining TU-144 is on display in Germany at the Auto & Technikmuseum at Sinsheim. Interestingly the craft is on display right next to a Concorde it is interesting to see how similar the aircraft are. For more information:  http://www.gizmohighway.com/history/tu-144.htm

Moscow’s Magnificent

Saint Basil’s or the Cathedral of Intercession of Theotokos on the Moat is probably the most known piece of architecture in Moscow. This magnificently coloured cathedral with its onion like domes is one of the world’s great religious buildings. The church celebrates Russian Orthodox and its beginnings date back to 1555 although the vivid colours and architecture were not a feature until the 1680’s and happened in stages over nearly 200 years. The building is meant to be inspired by a bonfire and its architecture is so unique there were no known similarities to it anywhere. It is rumoured that the architect Postnik Yakovlev was blinded by Ivan the Terrible so he would not design anything as magnificent ever again. The building today is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site which includes the two other major Moscow landmarks Red Square and the Kremlin. The cathedral has been pretty lucky to survive until today. Napoleon was so taken with the St Basil’s that he wanted to dismantle it and move it to Paris but legend tells he didn’t have the technology or manpower to do it. Unhappy with Russia having it and not Paris he then decided no one should have it and ordered it to be blown up. The story goes a sudden shower extinguished the gun powder fuses and the cathedral was saved. St Basil’s was nearly lost in the 1930’s too. Stalin’s Red Square development team planned to knock the structure down to make way for a new grand square luckily the plan didn’t come to fruition. Read the rest of this entry »

Beautiful Saint Basil’s

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The beautiful Saint Basil’s Cathedral is located in the south east end of Moscow’s Red Square which is also home to the Kremlin. Under the onion domes lay 9 chapels and are beautifully painted in medieval style in bright swirling colours. Built between 1555 and 1561 and commissioned by Ivan IV better know as Ivan the Terrible to commemorate the capture of Khante of Kazan the cathedral is one of the most known and photographed buildings in Russia.  St Basil is very lucky to be still standing with many wars and troubles harming much of the splendor of the Russian Capital, legend had it that Napoleon was so impressed with the structure he wanted to dismantle it and move it back to Paris, and then in the 1930’s some of Stalin’s team thought it would be good to knock it down to make more space for their military parades. Stalin came close a few years later but a culture buff called Baranovsky kicked up a bit of a stink by telling Starlin he would cut his own throat on the steps instead of tear it down. Stalin decided to keep in and chucked poor old Baranovsky in goal for five years. Read the rest of this entry »

The Trans Siberian Railway


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The Trans Siberian Railway is one of the world’s great railroad journeys linking Moscow to Beijing via 9,288 kilometres of track that spans eight time zones. The project to build the rail was one of the most expensive in Russian history at the time the first stage was opened in 1916. Technically the Trans Siberian Railway ends at Vladivostok but branch lines continue to North Korea and via the Trans Manchurian line or Trans Mongolian line to Beijing. The video above has a few good shots of the wonderful Russian landscape, it’s no surprise watching this one that this rail journey is so popular. Read the rest of this entry »

An adventure in Moscow


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It has never been easier to visit Moscow and like all big cities theres plenty to see and there is plenty of advice. This YouTube video explains some of the things you should look out for when visiting the Russian Capital to make you trip safer and more fun, and most of the advice is stuff you can use in any town or city all over the world.

If you have any travel tips you would like to share drop us a note in our comments section!

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Red Square


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Red Square is the most famous city square in Moscow and is often considered the as the centre of Moscow. During the Soviet years Red Square is where all the important military parades were held with thousands of troops marching along with tanks and missiles in front of giant red flags of Lenin. Today Red Square is marched upon by tourists and performances by the likes of Paul McCartney and Pink Floyd have replaced the performances of tanks. Red Square is home to the Russian Government (the Kremlin), Saint Basil’s Cathedral with its colourful onion shaped towers, the restored Kazan Cathedral, the GUM department store and Lenin’s Mausoleum where the embalmed body of Vladimir Lenin has been on public display since he died in 1924. A visit to Moscow is not complete without checking out Red Square and if you want to check out Mr Lenin make sure you get there early as the lines are often long.

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Central Lenin Stadium


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Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow was originally known as Central Lenin Stadium and was the main arena of the 1980 Moscow Olympics. The Stadium is part of the Luzhniki Olympic Complex comprising of 4 arena’s and a swimming pool. Capacity of the arena during the Olympics as show in the video above was around 103000 people today capacity is just under 85000 people. Luzhniki Stadium has been chosen to host the 2008 UEFA Champions League Final and will be Moscow’s first time hosting the European Cup final. Read the rest of this entry »

Get on board the Horizontal Lift


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What is a “Horizontal Lift” you may ask? Well it a unique subway station design only found in St Petersburg, Russia. St Peterburg’s subway system was built in the late 1950’s when the city was known as Leningrad and Soviet Russia was in the middle of the Cold War. The cities subway system is not only one of the most beautiful in the world but also one of the deepest with 53 of its stations being deep level. At the time of building, Leningrad pioneered the use of platform screen doors, but with a design known as the “Horizontal Lift”. Basically the station’s platform looks like a large room with lots of lift doors in it, the first time you are aware of a train being on the other side is once the large steal doors open up reveling the insides of the train. While the design has some good ideas, it was not popular and only about 10 stations were built like this. Today platform screen doors made of glass are becoming more and more popular around the world, so check out the video above to see how the original “Horizontal Lift” works. Read the rest of this entry »

Visit a modern day ghost town


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When the Chernobyl reactor disaster occurred in 1986 a 30 klm area was set up as the Zone of Alienation and everyone that lived in that area was evacuated leaving everything behind, this included the 50000 residents of the town of Pripyat around 5 klm from the reactor and the 14000 residents of the town of Chernobyl around 14 Klm from the Reactor. Today these towns are modern day ghost towns that are slowly falling into ruin and they give us a good glimpse of what 1980s Soviet Russia was like.
Day trips from Kiev in the Ukraine (about 130 klm’s away) can be organized to visit the area, it’s claimed to be fairly safe for short visits and the guide is armed with a Geiger counter so you know where not to stand. If the idea of copping a bit of radiation turns you off visiting the area check out these videos instead, they are mostly of Pripyat, the town closest to the reactor. The town of Chernobyl has got a few plant workers and scientist living in it and what is left is looked after, unlike Pripyat. Hit the next page for more video’s and the satellite view.

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Driving and crashing in Russia


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In some countries driving can be a bit more hectic than others. Check out this video of an intersection in St Petersburg, Russia as cars play chicken and then get tossed around like skittles on the icy roads. If you want our tip, make sure you take the insurance option when renting a car in Russia.