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These picturesque photos were taken on one hot summer evening in the Volga River delta somewhere in the Astrakhan region. The delta of the Volga is the largest river delta in Europe and the 8th in the world.

Due to the lowering of the level of the Caspian Sea, the delta area has increased ninefold over the past 130 years. The unique flora and fauna of the delta (sturgeon, lotus, flamingo, Siberian cranes, pelicans) are under state protection as the Astrakhan Nature Reserve. Photos by: Fedor Lashkov.

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Yelets, first mentioned in chronicles in 1146, is one of the oldest cities in Russia. This city with a population of about 100 thousand people is located in the Lipetsk region, about 82 km west of Lipetsk.

It is the only city of the Lipetsk region included in the list of Russian cities with ensembles and complexes of urban development, natural landscapes, examples of old town planning, as well as an archaeological cultural layer, which are valuable in historical, artistic and town planning terms. Photos by: Vladimir Mulder.

Mira Street – a pedestrian historic street of Yelets.

Church of the Holy Princes Michael of Tver and Alexander Nevsky (1909-1913) – one of the most original buildings of Yelets.

Ascension Cathedral (1845-1889) – the main Orthodox church of Yelets.

The historic center of Yelets.

Church of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin (1854-1869).

The Bystraya Sosna River.

This picturesque old fire station is still in use.

In total, there are 226 historical and cultural monuments in Yelets, of which 90 are of regional and federal significance, 13 churches and 2 monasteries.

Lenin Square in Yelets.

The pedestrian and road bridges across the Bystraya Sosna River.

Yelets has a significant tourism potential as a rare example of a city, which has preserved the spirit of the Russian Empire of the late 19th – early 20th centuries.

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Before being awarded the hosting rights for the showpiece event of the football calendar, Leonid Slutsky revealed that the country doesn’t connect with the sport. He was backed up by the numbers in 2016, with declining attendances for the country’s biggest clubs such as CSKA Moscow and Spartak Moscow.

However, fast forward three years and those comments look almost laughable, as the success of the 2018 World Cup was overwhelming. The sport now dominates front pages, while the Russian hero at the tournament – Artem Dzyuba – has become a cultural hero among locals. But what signs have we seen nearly a year after the start of the 2018 World Cup, which shows that the event has had a lasting event on the country?

Credit: CN Traveller

Increased Attendances

The arenas were the reason that over $14 billion was spent for the event. The question how these stadiums are used after events are always asked; no matter whether the stadia are built for the Olympic Games or World Cup; the life of the stadium needs to exist far beyond just the featured tournament.

There have been a few early successes on this front in Russia; mainly the stadium in Rostov, St Petersburg and Moscow. All three stadiums are sustaining high figures in the Russian Super League, while the overall attendance in the division is the highest it has been for ten years.

The new-found level of interest in the sport was highlighted when 80,000 Russian fans packed into the Luzhniki Stadium to watch a surprising win for CSKA Moscow over Real Madrid in the Champions League group stages. This interest has also reached the second tier, with Rotor Volgograd attracting over 20,000 fans for the majority of their home fixtures. The increased popularity is much like the increased popularity of online casinos; it is only increasing further over time.

Breaking Stereotypes

There was a lot of questions lingering before the tournament kicked off within the British media; with the safety of visitors called into question. However, this was nonsense, and within a week of the competition starting there was a feel-good factor that was as welcome as it was unexpected.

Russian people enjoyed seeing people from all around the world taking in their traditions and socialising. They felt less isolated and enjoyed tourists coming to the country. It was a roaring success economically with millions spent in bars, restaurants and bars.

Since the tournament, the government have announced new plans to further welcome tourists to see their country. There was a 10% rise in the number of people visiting the state also. The introduction of Fan Visas for the tournament was a genius concept, and that ensured that everybody who wanted to visit Russia got the chance to do so.

Increased Participation

It was announced in January 2019 that FIFA would allocate $60 million to Russia for the continued growth in the sport following the World Cup. The country has stated that these funds will be assigned to sustaining the sport by putting the money into grassroots levels of the women’s and children’s games.

This is a significant development for the country as women who played the sport before the tournament were not respected. Nowadays the money that has been developed from the World Cup is expanding the number of players that can play the game.

The money that has been granted is likely to play a crucial role in the game, as they look to qualify for their first World Cup since 2003. A women’s edition of the competition could one day head to Russia to increase the popularity further, just like it did with the men’s game.

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The Cathedral of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God, the main church in Stavropol, was originally built in 1843-1847, the bell tower – in 1858-1873. In the 1930s, the cathedral was destroyed and the bell tower was used as a radio mast, and then – a parachute tower. May 11, 1943, the bell tower was blown up by order of local party leaders.

The cathedral was restored on the old foundation in 2004-2012. April 25, 2019, the main dome with a cross was installed on the bell tower of the Kazan Cathedral of Stavropol. It was on this day that the cathedral finally found its original appearance. Photos by: Lashkov Fedor.

The height of the bell tower with the four-meter cross is 78 meters. The cathedral is located on a mountain and rises at a height of 777 meters above sea level (Stavropol was founded in 1777). This is the highest religious building in the Stavropol region.

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Nikolo-Ugreshsky Monastery is a monastery of the Russian Orthodox Church located in the city of Dzerzhinsky in the Moscow region, about 26 km south-east of the center of Moscow. The monastery was founded by the Grand Duke Dmitry Donskoy in 1380, in the place of the appearance of the icon of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker.

According to legend, it was in this place that his army stopped to rest on the way to the Kulikovo field. The appearance of the icon strengthened Dmitry Donskoy with faith and hope. He said “Siya vsya ugresha serdtse moye” (“This has warmed my heart”). Since then, this place is called Ugresha, and the monastery itself was named Nikolo-Ugreshsky. Nikolo-Ugreshsky Monastery on Google Maps. Photos by: Vadim Razumov.

Cathedral of the Transfiguration (1880-1894).

The Moskva (Moscow) River.

Cathedral of the Transfiguration is the second largest after the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in the Moscow region, its height is 77 meters.

Church of the Beheading of John the Baptist in the bell tower.

The bell tower was built in 1761, rebuilt in 1858-1859 up to six tiers, its height is 79 meters.

Next to the Transfiguration Cathedral you can see St. Nicholas Cathedral known from the end of the 14th century. Closed in 1925, it was completely destroyed in 1940. In 2003-2006, it was rebuilt.

The monastery pond.

The bell tower was closed in 1925. In 1941, the upper two tiers were demolished. It was restored in 2002-2003.

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The mountain park “Ruskeala” is a tourist complex located in the Sortavala district of the Republic of Karelia, near the border with Finland. The basis of the complex is an abandoned marble quarry filled with groundwater – a cultural heritage site and historic monument.

The park is located near the village of Ruskeala, about 30 kilometers north of the town of Sortavala. The length of the former marble quarry from north to south is 460 meters, the width – up to 100 meters. Ruskeala Park on Google Maps. Photos by: Maria Mitrofanova.

The walls of the old quarry are permeated with a whole system of underground workings. After the Second World War, most of them were flooded. The total length of the mine workings is several kilometers. Some old buildings and kilns have been preserved.

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Ayskiye Pritesy is a unique natural geological object – high limestone cliffs located on the section of the Ay River on the border of the Chelyabinsk region and the Republic of Bashkortostan.

These limestone rocks, picturesque vertical walls up to 90 meters high, consist of two groups – Bolshiye (Large) Pritesy and Malyye (Small) Pritesy. In the local dialect, Ayskiye Pritesy are called “Sybar-kaya”, which in Bashkir language means “varicoloured cliff”. Ayskiye Pritesy on Google Maps. Photos by: Vladimir Lyapin.

Ayskiye Pritesy are a well-known and popular tourist attraction of the Southern Urals. It is best to visit this place while rafting on the Ay River – this way you can visit this and some other sights that are difficult to reach by car.

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Tutayev is a historic town with a population of about 40 thousand people located on both banks of the Volga River in the Yaroslavl region, about 35 km north-west of Yaroslavl. This is one of the twelve places included in the Golden Ring of Russia – a popular tourist route passing through the old towns of North-Eastern Russia.

The churches of Tutayev, picturesquely scattered on the hilly banks of the Volga, are the main sights of this town and attract tourists and architecture lovers. The photos were taken in March when Tutayev was still covered with snow. Photos by: Roman Smirnov.

Holy Cross Cathedral (1658) located inside the earthen ramparts. It was in this place that the original fortress was founded in 1283.

Church of the Ascension (Leontievskaya) (1795).

Holy Cross Cathedral (1658).

Kazan Transfiguration Church (1758).

The center of Tutayev.

Resurrection Cathedral (1652).

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Kamchatka is a peninsula stretching from north to south for about 1,200 km in the northeast of Eurasia. From the west it is washed by the Sea of ​​Okhotsk, from the east – by the Bering Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Kamchatka Krai, one of the federal subjects of Russia, is located on the territory of the peninsula.

Kamchatka is a land of contrasts, which looks completely different from Central Russia. This is the land of volcanoes and glaciers, hot springs and boiling geysers, fast-flowing rivers, lakes and waterfalls. There are 414 glaciers and 160 volcanoes, 29 of which are active. Kamchatka volcanoes are included in the UNESCO World Heritage. Photos by: Sergey Makurin.

The main types of recreation are adventure tourism, sightseeing tours, water tourism (river rafting, boat trips, diving), ecological tourism, ski and mountaineering tours, hunting and fishing, helicopter and snowmobile tours, heli-ski.

There are regular flights available from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Vladivostok, Khabarovsk, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Magadan, Irkutsk, Kemerovo, Rostov-on-Don, and Krasnodar. The airport is located in the town of Yelizovo (about 30 km from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky). There are no railways on the peninsula, as well as regular passenger sea voyages.

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Oleg Dmitriyevich Kononenko is the 102nd cosmonaut of Russia and the 473rd cosmonaut of the world. As of April 2019, he is on the International Space Station and during the three previous flights he already spent 533 days in space.

From the ISS, he took a lot of photographs of various regions of the Earth. Let’s see how the cities of Russia look at night from orbit. Source: Roscosmos.

Moscow – the capital of Russia.

Saint Petersburg – the second largest city of Russia.

Samara – the center of the Volga economic region.

Volgograd – the place of the Battle of Stalingrad during the Second World War.

Grozny – the capital of the Chechnya Republic located in the North Caucasus.

Orenburg located in the south of the Urals near the border with Kazakhstan.

Saratov on the right bank of the Volgograd reservoir of the Volga River.

Astrakhan – the oldest economic and cultural center of the Lower Volga and the Caspian region.

Vladivostok – a city and port in the Far East of Russia, the end of the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Tver – one of the oldest cities in Russia.

Irkutsk – the sixth largest city in Siberia.

Angarsk located in the southern, most developed part of the Irkutsk region.

Krasnodar – the unofficial southern capital of Russia.

Novorossiysk – one of the largest Russian sea ports located on the coast of the Black Sea.

Tolyatti – the second largest city in the Samara region.

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