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Explore the Natural Splendor of Lake Seliger

Lake Seliger is situated in the northwest of the Valdai Hills of Russia and forms part of the Volga Basin. The lake is a protected nature reserve and is surrounded by picturesque hills covered in pine and birch forests. The only town on Lake Seliger is Ostashkov – one of Western Russia’s most popular resorts. Situated about 360 kilometers from Moscow, Lake Seliger is a popular weekend getaway for many Muscovites, as well as being an international tourist attraction.

The Valdai Hills are composed of a series of glacial moraines containing numerous glacial lakes. Covering an area of 260 square kilometers and containing 160 islands, Lake Seliger is the largest of the glacial lakes of Valdai Hills. The unusual islands of Lake Seliger add to the lake’s appeal. On one of the largest islands, Khachin, there is a chain of inner lakes connected by narrow channels to one another and to the main lake. Stolbny Island is home to the 16th century Nilova Pustyn monastery. Some of the islands have never been inhabited and others have the remains of the dwellings of previous occupants.

The city of Ostashkov has several beautifully preserved structures. These include the graceful red and white bell tower of the Resurrection Church that was built in 1689, the Trinity Cathedral dating back to 1697, and the Town Hall, completed in 1720, as well as the Zhitennoi Monastery from 1673 and the Znamensky monastery built in 1716. There are a number of 18th century one and two story wooden houses in between the more modern apartment blocks, and many of these houses are still occupied.

There are a number of activities in and around Lake Seliger to keep visitors busy. Fishing is a popular pastime at the lake, and at least thirty different kinds of fish can be caught there, including eel, pike and zander. Those who don’t relish the idea of gutting and scaling their own catch can buy freshly smoked fish from local fishermen at their roadside stalls. Other water-related activities include boating and swimming in the crystal clear water of Lake Seliger. Late evening boat rides to watch the sunset over the hills are especially popular.

The forests around Lake Seliger are home to elk, bears, foxes, hares, martens and wild boars. Mushroom and berry picking are enjoyable ways to explore the flora around the lake, which is often likened to that of Lake Baikal because of its diversity and abundance.

Tourists traveling in Russia should add a visit to the beautiful Lake Seliger to their itinerary – it will be time well spent.


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