LEISURE Newsletter, June 2016

In this issue we would like to present you very interesting places of the country in the West and East . Kaliningrad/Koenigsberg - only 2 hr flight from Moscow in the very West of Russia - the city that became Russian afrer WWII - visiting it you have a very strange feeling as if you were somwewhere in Europe/Germany but strangely all locals speak Russian. And of course Lake Baikal that can be reached by air or train and fits perfectly with your trip should you consider travelling to China or Mongolia.

Sincerely,
Helen Isaeva

Kaliningrad

Kaliningrad is a sea port city and an administrative center of Kaliningrad Region in Russia. It is the Russian exclave on the Baltic Sea is sandwiched between Poland to the south and Lithuania to the North and East. Königsberg (the original German name of Kaliningrad) was annexed from Germany in 1945 and was a closed military zone throughout the Soviet period. Königsberg was founded by Teutonic knights in the 13th century. It became one of the cities of the Hanseatic League and was once the capital of Prussia. The philosopher Immanuel Kant spent all his life in the city and died there in 1804.

During the Soviet period, Kaliningrad Region, administratively part of the Russian Federation, was separated from the rest of Russia, by the then Soviet republics of Lithuania, Latvia and Belarus.

The pre-war city center (Altstadt and Kneiphof) currently consists of parks, broad avenues, a square on the site of the former Königsberg Castle, and two buildings: the House of Soviets, roughly on the site of the former castle, and the restored Königsberg Cathedral on the Kneiphof island (now "Kant island"). Immanuel Kant's grave is situated next to the cathedral. Many German-era buildings in the historic city center have been preserved and rebuilt. The new city center is concentrated around Victory Square. The Cathedral of Christ the Savior, consecrated in 2005, is located on that square.

The oldest building in Kaliningrad is the Juditten Church (built before 1288). Also worth seeing are the former Stock Exchange, the surviving churches, and the remaining city gates: the Sackheim Gate, King's Gate, Rossgarten Gate, Attack Gate (German: Ausfallstor, or Sally Port), Railway Gate (Eisenbahntor), Brandenburg Gate, and Friedland Gate (Friedländer Tor (Kaliningrad) (de)). Apart from the already mentioned Dohna Tower, which houses the Amber Museum, the Wrangel Tower also remains as a reminder of the former Königsberg city walls.

Come and explore this unique city! We will be glad to assist you with the most impressive itinerary!

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Irkutsk and the Baikal Lake

We would like to remind one more time that except Moscow and St. Petersburg there are many other exciting destinations - Baikal area. Irkutsk was founded in 1661 when the Russian military cossack troops established a fortress on the right bank of the Angara River. From late 17th century Irkutsk was a political, economical and cultural center of Siberia. The city's Russian classical architecture dates from the period of the 1880s when the city boomed after gold was discovered in the area. Most of the brick mansions and grand public buildings varying in architectural styles were constructed in the late 19th - early 20th century.

The beautiful Russian Orthodox churches and a Polish Cathedral (the only Siberian Gothic-style building) are located in downtown. You will see many small one- and two-stored wooden houses or cabins that are decorated with "wooden laces" (hand-made carvings) as well as modern constructions of the 20th century. After the Decembrists' uprising in the Senate square in 1825 all the exiled Decembrists went to imprisonment at hard labour across Irkutsk, some time afterwards some of the deported Decembrists settled down in Irkutsk. Decembrists' Museum is a popular attraction now. Already from a distance this structure catches the eye standing out from other constructions. The atmosphere is approximated to that of the 19th century to the uttermost.

Listvyanka settlement, 70 km from Irkutsk, by the Baikal Lake is the place where guests stay during their visit to Baikal.
The small but tourist-wise settlement of Listvyanka is located on the western shore of Lake Baikal. This old-style Siberian village situated at the source of Angara River is famous for its trade history. From the 18th century a ferry took merchants across the lake on their way to Mongolia, China and the Far East. Now the settlement has both old wooden houses of locals together with newly designed hotels and private cottages. The Museum of the Lake Baikal (Limnological Museum) provides the information about the origin and wild life of the lake. A video film gives you the opportunity to see the deepest point of the lake's bottom (1642 m) from the submarine boat. In the afternoon you may enjoy time on your own strolling on the embankment of the Lake Baikal.
The acticities are diverse. One may have a boat tour of the lake, take the old steamer train for a great journey along the picturesuqe shore for the whole day , visit "banya" (Russian steam bath) in local house, taste delicious Omul fish

Tha best way to see the country's different regions is to take the Trans Siberian Express train - Mocow-Irkutsk.
Please follow the link to see the Trans Siberian Tour itinerary:
http://www.travelrussia.net/leisure/samples/fit-itineraries2016/63-transsiberiantour

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