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Introducing Vyborg

Pronounced Vih-bork, this Gulf of Finland port and rail junction, 174km northwest of St Petersburg and just 30km from the Finnish border, is an appealing provincial town dominated by a medieval castle and peppered with decaying Finnish Art Nouveau buildings and romantic cobblestone streets.

The border has jumped back and forth around Vyborg for most of its history. Peter the Great added it to Russia in 1710. A century later it fell within autonomous Finland, and after the revolution it remained part of independent Finland. Since then the Finns have called it Viipuri. Stalin took Vyborg in 1939, lost it to the Finns during WWII, and on getting it back deported all the Finns.

Today it remains resolutely a Russian town but the Finns are back by the coachloads, coming to shop and drink the town's cheap booze. With the exception of Park Monrepo all Vyborg's main sights are neatly arranged around a compact peninsula, making it an ideal town to explore on foot.