No other place sums up the rise and fall of the Soviet dream quite as well as the All-Russia Exhibition Centre.
It’s not exactly Universal Studios, but it is the oldest and most established film studio in Russia, responsible for films such as Alexander Nevsky, War & Peace, White Sun of the Desert and Irony of Fate .
A few vestiges of Birobidzhan’s Jewish heritage remain. Note the Hebrew signs on the train station , the livelyfarmers market and the post office on the riverfront at the southern terminus of ul Gorkogo.
Dasha Zhukova has so many claims to fame. She is the gorgeous girlfriend of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, she is a successful fashion designer and she has her own inheritance. Now she is also a proud patron of the arts, with the 2008 opening of the Garazh Centre for Contemporary Culture.
Beside (not inside) the Ivan the Great Bell Tower stands the world’s biggest bell, a 202-tonne monster that has never rung. The bas-reliefs of Empress Anna and Tsar Alexey, as well as some icons, were etched on its sides An earlier version, weighing 130 tonnes, fell from its belfry during a fire in 1701 and shattered.
Vladimir’s Golden Gate – part defensive tower, part triumphal arch – was modelled on the very similar structure in Kyiv. Originally built by Andrei Bogolyubsky to guard the main, western entrance to his city, it was later restored under Catherine the Great. Now you can climb the narrow stone staircase to check out the Military Museum .
Giving new meaning to the 'back in the USSR' this 'museum' is guaranteed to be one of the most entertaining ones you will visit in St Petersburg. Admission includes a stack of 15 kopek coins used to operate the 50-odd game machines in its collection which date to the Brezhnev era Hostels often have leaflets offering a discount on admission.
The museum is an excellent starting place, as you can study a diorama of the battle (and get the big picture) before setting out to see the site in person. Otherwise, the main exhibits feature original objects from the battle, including uniforms, weapons, documents and personal items.
This dry Russian-language-only museum is only for those with a passion for Eastern Siberia’s military history, though it does contain some semi-interesting exhibits on Beketov’s Cossacks, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and communist repressions.
The Art Museum displays a lot of fussy decorative arts but the rectilinear 1862 building is a historical curiosity in itself. It was built as the Siberian governor’s mansion and hosted passing tsars: note the original Kalmykian throne with its ebony elephant armrests and 7kg of beaten silver.
Several Crimean War monuments can be seen off ul Leninskaya, which you can follow south a few hundred metres and reach the Kamchatka State Unified Museum , housed in an attractive half-timbered building overlooking the bay.