After days of taiga and grey Soviet towns, Komsomolsk-na-Amure comes as a charming surprise with its attractive Stalin-era centre and pleasant Amur River setting. Built virtually from scratch in the 1930s as a vital cog in the Soviet Union’s military industrial complex, Komsomolsk's name comes from the thousands of Communist Youth League volunteers who built the town alongside Gulag labourers.
Imitating the tsars, Stalin erected elaborate neoclassical buildings in the city centre and then festooned them with stars and statues of model Soviet citizens. Around town, factories sprouted up to produce ships, weapons, electricity and, most famously, Sukhoi (Su) fighter jets in a factory that still works today. Set along a few grand boulevards, the city is worth a night or more if you are getting on or off the BAM.