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The Fascinating History of Kizhi

The island of Kizhi lies in Lake Onega, located in Russia's Republic of Karelia. Human settlement of the island dates back to the 15th century, if not earlier, with the small population living a rural lifestyle in and around a few villages. In the 18th century, the government coerced the people of Kizhi to work in developing the ore mine and iron processing plants in the region, which led to an uprising in 1769-1771. By the mid-20th century, most of the villages had been abandoned, with only a small rural settlement remaining. The two 18th century wooden churches and bell tower, known as Kizhi Pogost, also remained standing on the island and are listed with UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. During the 1950s a number of historical wooden buildings were transported to the island of Kizhi from around the Republic of Karelia in order to preserve them. Today, the island and some of the surrounding area serve as an open-air museum with more than 80 historic wooden structures for visitors to view.


The Sparrow Hills of Moscow

Located on the right bank of Moscow's Moskva River, the highest point of Sparrow Hills is between sixty and seventy meters above the level of the river. An observation platform allows visitors to view the city and a number of notable landmarks from a height of eighty-five meters above the Moskva River. The name Sparrow Hills, is believed to be a reference to the village Vorobyovo which the Grand Duchess Sophia Vitovtovna of Lithuania acquired in 1451 from a priest named Vorobey (Воробей), meaning 'sparrow'. The Grand Duchess was married to Vasiliy I Dmitriyevich – the Grand Prince of Moscow from 1389 to 1425.


Bashkortostan – Rich in Culture, History and Natural Beauty

Located between the Ural Mountains and the Volga River, close to the borders of both Europe and Asia, the Russian Republic of Bashkortostan is home to people from more than a hundred different nationalities. With Ufa as its capital city, Bashkortostan is known for its rich cultural heritage, with many academies and theaters promoting performing arts, including Russian, Bashkir and Tatar State Drama Theaters, the State Opera and Ballet Theater, National Symphony Orchestra, and Bashkir State Folk Dance Ensemble, as well as a film studio. World famous Russian ballet dancer, Rudolf Nureyev, reportedly began his illustrious dancing career in the theaters of Ufa.


The Buryats of Siberia

Covering almost all of Northern Asia, Siberia is home to around 28 percent of Russia's population, although it makes up as much as 77 percent of the country's territory. The tumultuous history of this vast, mostly inhospitable area and Soviet era domination resulted in the displacement of people which remains evident in the diversity of minority ethnic groups living in Siberia today. One of these groups is the Buryats (Buryads) of the Buryatia Republic – a federal subject of Russia.


Moscow Broomball – Competitive Camaraderie

Promoted as a sport for expats by expats, Moscow Broomball is similar to ice hockey in many ways, with the big difference being that players are not wearing ice-skates, they are wearing sponge-soled shoes, making maneuverability unpredictable and most entertaining – for both players and their loyal supporters on the side-lines. As the name suggests, the game takes place in the Russian capital city, and is restricted to the winter months when an improvised ice-rink is created by flooding a tennis court with water and letting nature take its course. The season lasts as long as the ice does, and ends off with a social event known as The Broomball Ball.


Chukchi People of Russia

The Chukchi Peninsula was once home to a variety of native people such as Korvaks, Eskimos and the Chukchi People. Bordering this peninsula is the Bering Strait, the Chukchi Sea and the Bering Sea, with Uelen being the nearest village. In the year 1990, it is estimated that a hundred and fifty-five thousand people populated the peninsula. The biggest industries in the area are fishing, mining, hunting and reindeer raising. There are still populations of Chukchi living on the Chukchi Peninsula, who originated from the Okhorsk Sea and communicate in the traditional Chukchi language.


The Five – Russia's Famous Composers

During the years 1856 to 1860, a group of composers got together to use their talents to produce Russian compositions that were free of European influence and would rely only on their training in Russian art music. Their goals were the same and they became known as The Five, The Mighty Coterie, The Mighty Handful, The Russian Five and The Mighty Five. The group consisted of Cesar Cui, Alexander Borodin, Mily Balakirev, Modest Mussorgsky and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Gathering in Saint Petersburg, The Five set about creating musical masterpieces unique to Russia and became the inspiration for many composers who followed years later.


The Russian Sport of Lapta

It has been suggested that the sport of baseball is derived from an ancient Russian sport called lapta. Excavations done do support the fact that the game of lapta was being played long before cricket and baseball were created. A quote by Aleksandr Kuprin described the game perfectly, saying: "This folk game is one of the most interesting and useful games. Lapta requires resourcefulness, deep breathing, faithfulness to your group, attention, dexterity, fast running, good aiming and marksmanship, strong striking hands, and firm eternal confidence that you cannot be defeated. The lazy and cowardly have no place in this game."

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