Kizhi Pogost

In the snowfield of north-western Russia, there are two historic wooden churches on Kizhi Island, centre of icy Lake Onega, which have been erected on the Lake Onega for more than four centuries, but they look and stand the same as in olden times.

The most jaw-dropping thing about Kizhi Pogost is that it was built without using any nails. It was completely made of wood! Thanks to the incredible craftsmanship, the onion domes of Kizhi Pogost, more amazingly, are clearly structured. With a bell tower, the two churches have safeguarded this snowfield and ice lake for countless seasons.


Russia, the transcontinental country in Europe and Asia, was developed from the city of Moscow. Before the Russian capital city was even established, the history of the empire was actually started all over in a small town. In the scenic Golden Ring of Moscow, there is Suzdal which nurtured the empire of Russia. The first-ever Kremlin (kremlin means “a castle” in Russian) was built in this small town of Suzdal.

As you wander in Suzdal, it is like time travelling walk. Everything has remained the same in Suzdal as it was more than a century ago. With monasteries and Orthodox churches fully built, Suzdal has small but delicate architecture opposite to the giant in Moscow. During your stay in Suzdal, you are highly recommended to spend some time in the very first Kremlin in Russia. The palace is small with a simple exterior but so well-equipped and splendid interior that is on par with Moscow Kremlin. Apart from the white buildings, there are also historical wooden churches in Suzdal to visit!

Church on Blood in Honour of All Saints Resplendent in the Russian Land, Yekaterinburg

If you have studied modern history, you should know that last Emperor of Russia Nicholas II was taken to the Yekaterinburg by the Bolsheviks. This took him away from the luxurious warm home in Saint Petersburg which was built to commemorate Peter the Great. He spent the last six months of his life in Yekaterinburg, founded to commemorate Catherine I of Russia, the second wife of Peter the Great. Nicholas II, along with his family and servants, was executed which marked the end of the rule of Russian Tsars.

Ipatiev House where Nicholas II and his family were imprisoned has been renovated into the Church on the Blood. The golden domes and white walls commemorate the Orthodox martyrs who sacrificed their lives during the Soviet era. This is why the church is also called “Church of All Saints”. You can find more about Nicholas II and the history of the Romanov family in the museum of the church too.

Kazan Kremlin

Although Russia is a country, it has many republics which are 22 in total. Under the rule of the Russian Federation, 22 republics have different cultures and customs, and also their own presidents and flags. As you visit Kazan, the capital city of Tatarstan, you will feel as if you have left Russia for another Central Asian country because Tatars with Mongolian features are all around the city. To search for the cultural root of Tatars, you should pay a visit to the Kazan Kremlin which is the centre of the administration.

Welcomed by the statue of dragon Zilant, you will enter this palace with Russian and Central Asian styles infused. Coloured in blue, white and gold, Kazan Kremlin has a range of exhibits showcasing the history of the capital. You will find out the history of the former capital city of the Golden Horde which had once conquered Asia and Europe and of the peace for the nomads residing here. 

Since the Tatars and Turkic cultures intertwine, Kazan Kremlin has a blue-dome mosque with a touch of Ottoman style besides the Presidential Palace and Annunciation Cathedral. The mosque can serve up to 6,000 worshippers. In this capital city of Tatars where Lenin and Tolstoy studied in, you can understand more about the Russian and Central Asian cultures. 

Lake Baikal

Lake Baikal, “the Pearl of Siberia”, is one of the best treasures of Russia. Located at the centre of Siberia, Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world and renowned for its huge water storage. Take the Trans-Siberia Railway travelling around the lake to Ulan-Ude or Irkutsk, then take a minibus and you will arrive at the lake. In Listvyanka, a small town at the lakeside, your sight will be filled with the colour of blue. The blue lake and sky are boundless, giving you the illusion of staying on the edge of the sea. Take a scoop of lake water, the cold water is simply refreshing.

You can reach the Olkhon Island at the centre of the lake by ferry. On this island, you will find the legendarily mystical religion, Shamanism. Many indigenous people with Mongolian faces living on the island still believe in Shamanism. Believing that there is a spiritual essence in everything big and small, they worship souls and nature and perform witchcraft-like rituals. Among the rituals, “samdambi” had influenced the ethnic customs of Northeast China.

Lake Baikal has totally different sceneries in winter and summer. In the freezing Siberian wind, the lake water forms a thick layer of ice where vehicles can drive past. Lying on the blue ice, glancing at the condensed water bubbles and listening carefully at the tranquil centre of the lake – you will hear a deep voice from the bottom of the lake. The soul of thousands of years is calling upon you while yours, through the ice, connects with the ancient soul for a timeless interaction in the heart.