As a response to Europe’s “Seven Wonders of the World” list, which didn’t include any Russian sights, Russia organized a national contest to select the seven most beautiful destinations the country has to offer. Almost 26 million people went online and voted for their favorites since the contest started in autumn 2007.
Here are the Seven Wonders of Russia:
The Baikal Lake
Declared a World heritage Site by UNESCO, in 1996, Lake Baikal is truly a lake of records. It is the deepest lake in the world, going as deep as 1,637 meters and it holds almost 20% of the world’s fresh-water supply, making it the largest supply by volume on the planet. Research has shown Lake Baikal is more than 25 million years old, which makes it the oldest lake in the world.
Over 1,085 species of plants and 1,550 species of animals live in Baikal Lake and between 80-90 percent of them are endemic to this place. In July of this year Russia has announced it is sending two small submersibles to descend to the bottom of the lake and conduct geological and biological tests.
Valley of the Geysers
This six kilometers basin is the only geyser field in all of Eurasia and second largest in the world. It is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it has about ninety geysers and many other thermal springs. It was discovered by Tatiana Ustinova, a local scientist, in 1941 but serious exploration of the area began in 1972. In the 1980s The Valley of Geysers was presented as one of the main attractions of the Kamchatka peninsula, in an attempt to raise tourist awareness. Foreign tourists were allowed access to the valley in 1991.
Mother Motherland monument
Just a strange name to most of us, Mamayev Kurgan is a place of great significance for the Russian people. This dominant hill, overlooking the city of Volgograd (former Stalingrad) saw some of the fiercest combat of all World War II, as it had immense strategic importance. It changed hands several times during the Stalingrad offensive, but the soviets held their positions heroically on the hill slopes until the German forces were finally surrounded and annihilated.
After the battle ended the hill was plowed and mixed with metal fragments, between 500 and 1,250 fragments per square meter. The hill remained black during the conflict because the snow melted constantly due to bombing and it remained this way in the spring after the battle, because nothing would grow. Even today it’s possible to dig up metal and bone fragments buried on the hill.
The huge memorial statue of the Motherland, known as “The Motherland Calls!” was the largest free-standing sculpture in the world when it was built on top of Mamayev Kurgan, in 1967.
Often referred to as “the Russian Versailles” the palace and park of Peterhof are one of Saint Petersburg’s most popular attractions. Versailles was indeed Peter the Great’s inspiration when he decided to build an imperial palace and many say Peterhof (“Peter’s Court” in German) is even more beautiful than the famous French complex.
Peterhof is an immense, luxurious estate, known as the “capital of Russian fountains”; the Grand Cascade, built in front of the Grand Palace, is one of the largest fountain ensembles in the world. The Upper Garden and Lower Park are also cultural masterpieces and the magnificent Grand Palace was remodeled by the famous architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli.
Saint Basil’s Cathedral
Also known as The Cathedral of Intercession of the Virgin on the Moat is considered the most beautiful cathedral in Russia and one of Europe’s most beautiful holy places. It was constructed during the reign of Ivan the Terrible and a legend says the architect was blinded after finishing his creation, so he couldn’t build anything as beautiful again.
Poles of the Komi Republic
No one knows how long ago they were created, but for sure scientists know that only nature could create such a thing. Estimated age is 200 million years and their height is 42 meters at most (~140 feet.)
The mountain is the highest point in Russia and some people believe that it is also the highest point in Europe. Lots of tourists, ski and snowboaring lovers visit this place yearly. Its height is 5600 meters which is 18600 feet.