Vyborg Castle, Marble Canyon and Snail Farm: Five Unique Places in Russia

PHOTO by kostin77 / Depositphotos
There are hundreds of breath-taking sites in Russia – majestic lakes, impenetrable fortresses, gentle valleys and rugged mountains. Rambler.Travel takes you on a tour of the most fascinating places on the Russian map


Sviyazhsk was founded in 1551 specifically for the siege of Kazan. Built on a hill, the wood for the fortress was cut near Uglich and sent down the river by raft. Several months after its construction, Kazan fell to Ivan the Terrible.

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Sviyazhsk is now on an island because the construction of the Kuibyshev hydroelectric station in the middle of the 20th century resulted in a reservoir that separated Sviyazhsk from the shore. However, a dam was built in 2008 and the fortress now is much easier to reach.

There are two ancient monasteries in Sviyazhsk: St. John the Precursor's and Uspensky, both of which have only partially survived. Tourists can visit stable yards, craft villages and historical sites.

Ruskeala’s Marble Canyon

Marble mined from this canyon in Karelia was used in the construction of St. Isaac's Cathedral, the Hermitage, Mikhailovsky Castle and even two underground stations in St. Petersburg.

The marble mines in Ruskeala are now filled with groundwater and the tunnels have turned into underground caves.

The most visited sight is the canyon, which is 460 metres long, 100 metres wide and filled with crystal clear water. Boat rides through the canyon are available to visitors.

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Snail Farm

A trip to the Yaroslavl Region is impossible to imagine without visiting the snail farm in Pereslavl-Zalessky, the region’s main gastronomic attraction. Alexei and Galina Dyachkova, the farm’s owners, prepare dozens of different dishes with snails, their specialty being the Burgundy snail.

There are tastings and workshops available, and even races where you can cheer for a snail of your choice. Snails move quickly, but it takes them a long time to start. The current speed record for snails at the farm is 10 centimetres in 40 seconds.

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The Vyborg Castle

The history of Vyborg, which dates back to 1293, revolves around its unique medieval castle, one of the best preserved examples of the Western European art of fortification that was built by the Swedes in the 13th century.

Russians first entered the castle after a long siege in 1710 during the reign of Peter the Great. In the 19th century, there was a huge fire in the castle that destroyed part of the architectural complex. However, the castle suffered almost no harm during the Second World War.

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In 1970, a museum opened inside the castle and there is a viewing platform at the top of the 40-metre-tall St. Olaf's Tower, allowing for panoramic views of the surrounding bay.

Vasyugan Swamp

The northern hemisphere’s largest swamp is located to the south of the Khanty-Mansiysk. Covering an area of 53,000 square kilometres, the swamp alone is larger than Switzerland. Wolverines, caribou, bears, elk, otters and dozens of species of rare birds, including golden eagles and sea eagles, inhabit the area. The Vasyugan Swamp is also the source for many Siberian rivers.

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The best way to see the swamp is to take a four-wheeler tour starting from Tomsk.