Sunday, 19 July 2009

Romantic Destinations to Visit in Russia

Russia is rapidly becoming one of the most fascinating destinations in the world. Since the fall of Communism, Russian traditions that were hidden for decades have come back and are frantically making up for lost time. Though Russia, the most massive country in the world by physical scale, offers countless other options, most first-time visitors to Russia start at Moscow and St. Petersburg. Here are four romantic places to visit in Russia.

Abramtsevo is an retreat north of Moscow. It was a retreat for artists and writers during the 19th century. Originally owned by Sergei Aksakov, novelists and designers like Nikolai Gogol stayed there as guests. They wanted to purge Russian art of Western influences to create a more purely Russian ethos. In 1870 it was taken over by Savva Mamontov, and under his influence, Russian art flourished there. Abramtsevo contains a charming church, winding paths through woods, and a rather bizarre house straight out of a fairy tale. The main manor may have been the starting point for Chekhov's setting for The Cherry Orchard.

Gorky Park, Moscow is a romantic place to visit in cold weather. The footpaths ice over converting much of the park into a skating rink. Skating together with your sweetheart is one of the most sweet ways to experience Moscow. If you go in the summer, you can enjoy the many rides, cafes, and booths where you can shop for mementos. First opened in 1928, Gorky Park was formerly the gardens of a local palace. Whether you go when it’s cold or during summer, you will find innumerable things to delight you and your love. Located by the Moskva River, it is a beautiful setting you shouldn't neglect when visiting Moscow.

The Hermitage Winter Palace is perhaps the most spectacular place in St. Petersburg. With its innumerable architectural flourishes, this magnificent building has over 1, 000 rooms. In the past the residence of Russia's royalty, it also was the site where in 1917 Bolsheviks began their coup d'etat. While that specific incident of the Revolution was not as brutal as it was later reported, it did lead to civil war and the Bolshevik triumph in 1921. Now, the Winter Palace holds the Hermitage Museum, the most expansive art gallery in Russia. Artwork by da Vinci, Raphael, and Rubens are some of the works in this spectacular art collection.

The Grand Hotel Europe is a very posh delight, with outstanding food in the many restaurants, and a long and rich history. Among the Grand Hotel Europe's numerous historic visitors was Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky From this hub of indulgence, visitors can easily reach St. Petersburg's most famous sites. As a setting for bliss, Grand Hotel Europe cannot be topped. It is like returning to an earlier setting, with opulence and elegance complemented by 21st century amenities.

While Russia is graced with many charming sites, these four are excellent choices for first-time visitors. The amazing architecture of Eastern Europe blends with a 20th century largely filled with events that are unknown to Westerners make Russia a unique, but unforgettable setting for romance.

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