The Russian railway system is truly magnificent, spanning more than 85 thousand kilometres all over the country's vast territory. Its numerous stretches pass by both famous monuments and impressive natural landmarks.
Rambler.Travel proudly presents some of the best views of Russia as seen through the window while travelling by train, offering an entirely new look on some the country's better-known sites.
Monuments and Architecture
The Motherland Calls statue, a towering monument that stands resolutely at the top of the Mamayev Kurgan hill in Volgograd, can be seen in great detail from the train. The monument, which was built to commemorate the Soviet Union’s victory in the Battle of Stalingrad and honour the memory of the soldiers who fought and died while defending the city, has become the city’s calling card.
The Motherland Calls is one of the highest statues in the world, and is the highest in Russia and Europe, which is why it can be seen so easily by passengers of the many trains that pass through the city on their way to Adler, Tumen, Nizhnevartovsk, Krasnoyarsk, Perm, Saratov, Chelyabinsk, Ufa and many other destinations.
The Church of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin on the Nerl River is one of the major sites of Russia’s Golden Ring. The white stone church was commissioned in the 12th century by Prince Andrey Bogolyubsky [a Grand Prince in Russia, then called Rus, whose reign saw the decline of Kiev's rule over the northeastern parts of the country and the rise of Vladimir as the new capital city]. It is considered a unique monument of Vladimir-Suzdal architecture and is best known for its white stone arches and bas-reliefs. This church can also be seen from the train if you are travelling, for example, from Moscow or St. Petersburg to Nizhny Novgorod.
The Moscow City International Business Centre has also become an important landmark and can be seen while aboard a Lastochka train [one of the high-speed train that serve several lines in Central Russia; the name literally means "Swallow"], which became possible after the opening of the Moscow Central Circle Line.
The Ostankino Television and Radio Tower greets the travellers who arrive in Moscow via the October Railway [the oldest railway in Russia, located in the north-west part of the country with headquarters in St. Petersburg]. Standing 540.1 m [1,772 ft], it is the tallest building in Europe and the eigth tallest building in the world, and transmits television and radio signals across the entire country. It is also one of Russia's most recognizable landmarks. Needless to say, these are far from the only architectural sites you can see while travelling through Russia by train. So consider this as an inspiration to take a trip and see them all with your own eyes.
Russian Forests and Tundra
Woods and forests make up one of the most wide-spread landscape varieties that one can observe when travelling through Russia by train. While passing through, you will, without a doubt, see dense coniferous forests, tall pines and flexible birch trees along the way.
And if you take the Northern Railway, you will be able to enjoy the more austere landscapes of the Russian tundra. For example, the Obskaya-Bovanenkovo-Karskaya line, which is the northernmost railway in the world, offers some truly breathtaking views.
Lakes and Rivers
If you head north, you will be able to see the many lakes and rivers of Karelia, the Kola Peninsula and the Leningrad region. For example, the Imandra Lake, which surrounds the Khibiny Mountains on the Kola Peninsula, or the picturesque confluence of the Idel and Lower Vyg River at the White Sea-Baltic Canal.
And if you take a train along the Volga River, you will be able to follow the river and see how it grows and the landscape around it changes as you approach the Caspian Sea. In the upper reaches of the Volga, Europe's longest river is nothing but a narrow stream, whereas, by the time it reaches Samara, it is so wide that you might mistake it for a sea, as you cannot see the other side. That's how big and magnificent it is.
On the way from Saint Petersburg to Moscow, you will pass by a way station called the Moscow Sea, which lies in the Tver region. Of course, there is no such thing as a Moscow Sea, but this is how the Ivankovo Reservoir located in the upper reaches of the Volga is sometimes fondly referred to by the locals. The reservoir's main function is to supply Moscow with fresh drinking water.
However, the most breathtaking views await the travellers who make it all the way to Lake Baikal. This is something you will be able to experience, for example, if you decide to take the train from Moscow to Vladivostok. Baikal is the world's deepest and purest lake, the largest freshwater reservoir, and home to some extremely rare species of animals. Many of them, like the Baikal cisco or the Baikal ringed seal, for example, cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Of course, you won't be able to see them from the train window, but at least you will be able to enjoy the stunning beauty of the lake and the taiga around it.
The Mountains and the Sea
Even travelling within one region will sometimes give you ample opportunity to enjoy some truly amazing views and landscapes. For example, if you take the "Lastochka" train from Adler to Krasnaya Polyana, you will have the chance to appreciate the magnificent Caucasus Mountains.
And if you head to the Ural Mountains and beyond, you will get to see, not only the Urals themselves, which are the mountains that separate Europe and Asia, but also the snow-capped peaks of the Sayan and Altai mountains.
Russian Railway lines also run along the country's vast coastline, so those of you planning a holiday in Sochi will be able to enjoy the Black Sea and its spectacular sunsets well before you reach your final destination.