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Russia's Ramsar Wetland Sites

In acknowledgment of the ecological, cultural, recreational, economic and scientific importance of wetlands worldwide, representatives from seven countries gathered at Ramsar in Iran to sign the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, more commonly referred to as the Ramsar Convention, with its stated mission being "the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world". Since the signing of the Ramsar Convention in 1971, dozens of countries have ratified the agreement and had wetlands within their borders undergo scientific review for inclusion as Ramsar sites. Russia ratified the Ramsar Convention in February 1977, with its first listed wetlands being the Volga River Delta, Kandalaksha Bay and Lake Khanka, and currently has thirty-five Ramsar certified wetlands.

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Exploring the Volga River

Referred to fondly as Volga-Matushka (Mother Volga) in Russian folklore and literature, the Volga flows through central Russia, with some of the country's largest cities situated in the Volga’s watershed. With its source in the Valdai Hills, and emptying into the Caspian Sea below Astrakhan, the Volga is Europe's longest and largest river. Together with its many tributaries, most notably the Oka, Kama, Vetluga and Sura rivers, the Volga flows through an area of up to 1,350,000 square kilometers, and for three months of each year most of the river is frozen. One of the best ways to explore the wonders of Volga-Matushka is by boat and there are a number of tour operators offering Volga River cruises.

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Discover the History of Moscow's Tsar Bell

Completed in 1735, and located alongside the Ivan the Great Bell Tower in the grounds of the Moscow Kremlin, the Tsar Bell is considered to be the largest bell in the world, measuring 6.6 meters in diameter, with a height of 6.14 meters and weighing 201,924 kilograms. The enormous bronze bell was commissioned by the niece of Peter the Great, Empress Anna Ivanovna, and is decorated with images of the Empress and Tsar Alexey, as well as intricate patterns of plants, interspersed with angels and saints. The casting of the bell was a mammoth task that took almost two years to complete.

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Hidden Treasures of Kapov Cave

Located in the Shulgan-Tash Reserve in the southern Ural Mountains of Russia, Kapov cave was first documented by P.I. Rychkov in 1760. In the late 1950s, Russian archeologist A.V. Ryumin discovered a gallery of more than fifty Paleolithic cave paintings on the walls of a long cavern in the network of caves. These superb examples of prehistoric art include rhinoceros, bison, mammoths and horses, as well as drawings of humans and other animals, along with geometric trapezoid shapes. Later excavations – by O.N. Bader in the 1960s and V.E. Shchelinsky in the 1980s – uncovered ash layers that enabled researchers to determine the date of human occupation as being between 13,900 and 14,680 radio carbon years before the present (RCYBP). Items unearthed during excavations include stone tools, beads, pendants made from bone and a lamp fashioned from clay.

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The Marvelous Museums of Ekaterinburg

Visitors to Ekaterinburg can discover a wealth of information on the history and culture of the city and surrounding region in the more than thirty museums scattered around the city. Art enthusiasts should include the Ekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts and the Gamayun Center of Folk Arts and Artistic Handicraft to their itinerary, while visitors interested in natural history may want to add the Nature Museum, the Regional Natural History Museum and the Ural Geological Museum to their list of places to see. Other options are the Museum of History of Stone-Cutting and Jeweler's Art, the Museum of Photography, the Ekaterinburg History Museum, and the Radio Museum by Popov.

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Samara Prepares for 2018 FIFA World Cup

Located at the confluence of the Samara and Volga Rivers, the city of Samara is set to be a host city for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and work has already begun on a new state-of-the-art stadium for matches that will take place there. At a ceremony on 21 July, which was attended by President Vladimir Putin, a capsule containing messages from citizens of Samara to future generations was placed in the newly laid foundations of the stadium. With its cosmos-inspired theme highlighting the Samara oblast's role in Russia's aviation and space industries, the 45,000 seat stadium will become the future home of the Krylia Sovetov football club. It is anticipated that the stadium will be completed in mid-2017, along with the necessary infrastructure to accommodate the large numbers of football fans who will be attending the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Other cities hosting events include Sochi, Kazan, Moscow, St Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Yekaterinburg, Sochi and Rostov-on-Don.

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A Day in the Country at Tsaritsyno Estate

Situated on the outskirts of Moscow, the Tsaritsyno Museum and Estate offers visitors the perfect setting for a day out in the country, with the opportunity of learning about the history and culture of the area through interactive tours and exhibits. Tour guides dressed in 17th century attire walk visitors through the Grand Palace, pointing out special items of interest while detailing the history, customs and culture of the time, with some tours including games, dancing and live music and entertainment. There is also the choice of an ecological tour including the estate's greenhouses and extensive grounds. Alternatively, visitors can enjoy a self-guided tour through the great palace and the beautifully landscaped gardens, as well as the art museum.

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Historical Monuments at Kolomenskoye

Located to the southeast of Moscow, on the road to Kolomna, the former royal estate of Kolomenskoye overlooks the Moskva River and has a number of interesting historical buildings to view, including the World Heritage-listed Church of the Ascension. Kolomenskoye started out as a village sometime prior to 1339 where it was mentioned in the testament of Ivan I, Prince of Moscow and Grand Prince of Vladimir. Its picturesque setting and close proximity to Moscow made the village a favored country destination for the grand princes of Muscovy, and a royal estate developed.





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