Ten of Russia’s most impressive buildings

As is clear from the footage we have seen while following the 2018 World Cup, Russia has some fantastic architecture. Indeed, the country has an astonishing 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Naturally, many of these have been included on our list of impressive Russian buildings, but, as you will see there are some that are not on the UNESCO list, which are nonetheless well worth a look or, better still, a visit.

1. The Moscow Kremlin

Top of the list has to be the Kremlin, Moscow. As you will see, this is actually a complex of several buildings, which are contained within the walls of the Kremlin.

In Medieval Russia, there were over 400 Kremlins. Today, only 20 of them are well-preserved enough to still be visited. Without a doubt, the Moscow Kremlin is the most impressive of them.

A Kremlin is a fortress; in fact, the name means “fortress inside a city”. The walls of this particular fortress enclose an area of 276,000 square meters (68 acres), within which are several iconic buildings.

2. The Cathedral of the Dormition (Assumption Cathedral)

Understandably, most visitors head straight to Cathedral Square to see the gorgeous Assumption Cathedral. With its five golden helmet domes, it is rather impressive from the outside, but the real delights lie inside.

It is ornately decorated, which makes it hard to know where to look first. However, the one thing you must not miss is the striking fresco of the Virgin Mary, which was created in the 1660s.

3. The Grand Kremlin Palace

Also, inside the walls of the Kremlin is the Grand Palace. The best way to experience this impressive building is to book yourself on a tour. Still, bear in mind that spaces on these tours go fast, so you should always reserve your place.

If you cannot go in, don’t worry because it can still be enjoyed from the outside. This three-storey palace was built by Konstantin Thon. Beautiful to look at, it is also a building that was designed to be easy to defend. It was built using the enfilade principle.

4. Novodevichy Convent, Moscow

This impressive convent was founded in 1524, but very little of those original structures are still standing. Over the centuries, the convent complex has been altered and added to numerous times, but most of the buildings you see here today were in place early in the 17th Century.

Perhaps its most striking feature is the huge wall that surrounds the convent complex. Incorporated into this important functional structure are 12 stunning towers.

Within the complex is the Smolensky Cathedral. This six-pillared, five-domed structure is thought to have been built during the first quarter of the 14th Century, making it the oldest structure within the convent complex.

5. St Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow

Perhaps the most iconic building in Russia is St Basil’s Cathedral, in Moscow. When someone thinks of Russian architecture, it is this building that they usually think of first.

Its brightly coloured, candy-striped, onion domes have earned it the affectionate nickname The Gingerbread Cathedral. Many people find it hard to believe that this psychedelic building was designed in the 16th Century. Somehow, it transcends time and captures the imagination of each new generation. It looks stunning in the photos but they only tell half the story. Seen in real life, it is simply mesmerising.

6. Church of the Ascension, Kolomenskoye

This church was built to celebrate the birth of the child who would become Tsar Ivan IV, who is better known as Ivan the Terrible. It is a surprisingly small and oddly shaped building, which is still full of character.

This is an early example of a wooden tent-roofed church. It was also one of the first to be finished in stone. At the time, its design was quite experimental, but it had a big, and lasting, impact on Russian ecclesiastical architecture. The ceiling is 41-metres high, which is why it has such a spaciousness feel. This is despite the fact that the interior is actually quite small. In places, the walls are three meters thick.

7. Ferapontov Monastery, in the Vologda region

This Monastery is a well-preserved example of a Russian Orthodox monastic complex. Most of what you see today was built between the 15th and 17th Centuries, in the Rostov architectural style. Both the exterior and interior of most of the buildings within the complex have remained unchanged for hundreds of years. Even the Cathedral murals, which were painted by Dionisy the Wise, are in their original condition.

8. The Winter Palace, Saint Petersburg

It is hard to believe that the first palace to be built on this site was a wooden house, which was constructed in the Dutch style. In fact, the palace you see today is the fourth one to have been built on the site, and was designed by the court architect Rastrelli.

He had the buildings constructed in a square format to create an impressive and completely private inner courtyard. At 22 metres, the palace is the highest building in the city centre, even today. This is largely because a local law was passed that prevented anyone from building something that was taller than it when the construction work was finished.

9. The Lakhta Centre, Saint Petersburg

Oddly, Saint Petersburg is currently home to the tallest building in Europe. It stands at 462 metres (1,516 ft) and consists of 87 stories. The building currently holds the Guinness World Record for the longest continuous concrete pour. It also features the largest cold-bent facade curtain-wall in the world. If you like modern architecture, you are sure to enjoy this striking skyscraper.

10. The Research Institute of Robotics, Saint Petersburg

Saint Petersburg is also home to several quirky buildings, one of which is The Research Institute of Robotics and Technical Cybernetics. This strange-looking building is quite unlike anything else you would have ever seen. The concertina edged structure that is, in fact, a large laboratory, is especially impressive. It is affectionately called the White Tulip, and you will see why when you visit it.

So, there you have it – ten of the most impressive and interesting buildings in Russia, but this really is just the tip of the iceberg. If you love architecture, Russia is a great travel destination for you.

Posted by Mark
July 4, 2018

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