The Seven Wonders of Russia – how many do you know?
Have you heard of the Seven Wonders of Russia?
A project organised by the newspaper Izvestia, Radio Mayak and the television channel Russia set out to establish the seven most amazing natural and man-made wonders of this vast and awe-inspiring country. And the top seven were…
Lake Baikal: located in southern Siberia, Lake Baikal is the largest freshwater lake by volume in the world, containing nearly a quarter of the world's fresh surface water (that’s more than North America’s Great Lakes combined). As well as being the world’s deepest lake, with a maximum depth of 1642 m, Baikal is also considered among the world's clearest lakes and the oldest, at 25 million years. Baikal is home to thousands of species of plants and animals, many of which exist nowhere else in the world. The lake was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
The Valley of Geysers: a geyser field on Kamchatka Peninsula, it has the second largest concentration of geysers in the world (90 in total) and many hot springs. It forms part of the Kronotsky Nature Reserve, which in turn is incorporated into the World Heritage Site known as the Volcanoes of Kamchatka. The valley is difficult to reach, with helicopters providing the only feasible means of transport.
Mamayev Kurgan: this dominant height overlooking the city of Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad) in Southern Russia means ‘tumulus of Mamai’. The formation is dominated by a memorial complex commemorating the Battle of Stalingrad (August 1942 to February 1943), probably the bloodiest battle in human history. At the time of its installation in 1967, the statue which dominates the complex, named The Motherland Calls, was the largest free-standing sculpture in the world. Today, it’s the tallest sculpture of a woman in the world.
The Peterhof Palace: a series of palaces and gardens located in Petergof, St Petersburg, laid out on the orders of Peter the Great. These palaces and gardens are sometimes referred to as the "Russian Versailles". Today, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
St Basil’s Cathedral: properly called the Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed, St Basil’s is a church on Red Square in Moscow. The building, now a museum, was built from 1555–61 on orders from Ivan the Terrible and commemorates the capture of Kazan and Astrakhan. It was the city's tallest building until the completion of the Ivan the Great Bell Tower in 1600. The building is shaped like the flame of a bonfire rising into the sky. Nothing else like it exists in all of Russia.
The Manpupuner rock formations: also known as the Seven Strong Men Rock Formations or Poles of the Komi Republic, these are a set of seven gigantic, abnormally shaped stone pillars located west of the Ural mountains in the Komi Republic. These monoliths are between 30 and 42 m high and jut out of a hilly plateau formed through the weathering effects of ice and winds. According to local legend, the stone pillars were once an entourage of Samoyeds giants walking through the mountains to Siberia to destroy the Mansi people. However, upon seeing the holy Mansi mountains, the shaman of the giants dropped his drum and the entire team froze into the stone pillars. The Manpupuner rock formations are a very popular attraction in Russia, though not well known internationally, and therefore relatively unspoiled by tourism.
Mount Elbrus: the highest mountain in Russia and in Europe, and the tenth most prominent peak in the world. A dormant volcano, Elbrus is in the Caucasus Mountains in Southern Russia, near the border with Georgia. Elbrus has two summits, both of which are dormant volcanic domes. The taller west summit is 5642 metres, the east summit 5621 metres. As most relevant modern authorities define the continental boundary between Europe and Asia as the Caucasus watershed, Elbrus is considered part of Europe due to its position on the north side in Russia.