Vladivostok (kilometer 9289 on the Trans-Siberian in the southern-most part of the east coast of the Russian Far East) is situated around scenic Golden Horn Bay which in turn is surrounded by craggy, fog-shrouded hills. Over 9,175 kilometers (5,700 miles) and seven time zones from Moscow, it is the capital of Primorsky Kray, a vast region with oil, diamonds, gold and other resources. Vladivostok's beautiful setting is marred by the city itself, which has traditionally been a military town. Most of the buildings are ugly Soviet-era apartment blocks. It is home to 605,000 people and the Pacific fleet and the terminus of the Trans-Siberian Railway. Vladivostok means "Possess the East."

Vladivostok is Russia's principal Pacific port and the largest city in the Russian Far East. An important center for trade with the Pacific Rim countries and Russia’s window to the east, it serves as the capital of Primorskiy Kray (Maritime Territory) and is a major fishing and shipping hub. The city was closed to foreigners from 1958 to 1992 but city now is home to many foreign businesses and consulates and a bustling port with a good choice of restaurants and fairly lively nightclubs. Among the most lucrative businesses are fish and buying up used cars in Japan and selling them in Russia.

Robert Reid wrote in the New York Times: “Anchoring the far end of the 5,757-mile Trans-Siberian Railway, the Russian port city of Vladivostok did not exactly welcome visitors during the Soviet era. Despite its strategic position — near the Russian border with China and North Korea — Vladivostok occupied its own world during the cold war and was off limits to everyone, even Russians, since it was also home to the Russian Pacific Fleet. But its ports have swung open in recent years, not just as a thriving trading post at the edge of Asia, but also as a surprisingly picturesque city of hillside mansions, scenic bays and, these days, extravagant night life fueled by the booming shipping and commercial fishing industries.” [Source: Robert Reid, New York Times, August 15, 2008]

History of Vladivostok

Vladivostok was founded in 1860 in the era of Cossacks and Siberia explorers to block China's expansion to the Sea of Japan. The tsars built a maritime fort there. The city was a focal point during the 1904-1905 Russo-Japanese War and abruptly became the Russian Pacific naval base when Port Arthur fell . The stage was set for its expansion when the Siberian railway connected it to Moscow in 1916. The city was badly damaged when the Reds put down a White counterattack there in the Russian Civil War in the early 1920s .

Vladivostok has traditionally had an Asian favor.. In the 1920s, half the men were Chinese and the city had Chinese brothels, opium dens and five theaters for Chinese opera. The Chinese were willing to work for lower wages than the Russians but they didn't assimilate. In the 1930s Stalin kicked the Chinese out. They didn't return until the 1980s and then they were accompanied by Japanese and Koreans, who all have a high profile in the city today.

The Soviet Union fortified Vladivostok with secret tennels, bunkers, forts, strongpoints, artillery batteries, shore anti-amphibious caponiers. During the Cold War era Vladivostok was a closed city because it was once a super secret naval center and the home of the Soviet Pacific fleet. Foreigners were not allowed to go anywhere near it. Those that took the Trans-Siberian Railway were forced to get off in Khabarovsk, 650 kilometers miles to the north, and take a special separate train to the civil port of Nakhodka. 90 kilometers to the southeast. Even Russians from other parts of the country needed a permit to visit it.

The Yul Brynner was born in Vladivostok in 1920 but left when he was four after her his mother — who was of Russian and Buryat (Mongol) ancestry — was abandoned by his father, a rich Swiss-German merchant who made a fortune dealing in resources from Manchuria and Siberia. Vladivostok was officially opened to the outside world on January 1, 1992. In the 1990s it was hit by debilitating and dangerous energy shortages and the first waves of Asian travelers. It had a reputation of being kind of dangerous.

Modern Vladivostok

Vladivostok today is a very international city. It has (or had) an Australian restaurant serving kangaroo steaks, Korean and Japanese shows on hotel televisions, billboards hawking American products, an Italian-built airport terminal, flights to Tokyo, Seoul and Alaska. American, Japanese and Korean firms have dreams of making the city an international center in Asia. U.S. Navy ships make regular ports of call. Cruise ships occasionally make stops here.

The streets filed with used right-hand drive Japanese vehicles and Chinese traders selling cheap consumer goods. Chinese is widely spoken. Many of the restaurants serve Chinese food. Most of the fruit and vegetables are from China. Many hotels are filled with Chinese. Many of them come to gamble at the casinos and have sex with European women. Tens of thousands of Chinese visit every summer. Most of them come from northern China and arrive by bus, interested in seeing what Europe is like. Many American come here some. Some are tourist. Some are businessmen. Some are married couples in search of children to adopt. For Americans and Europeans there are ATM machines with English instructions.

The changes haven't all been good. Vladivostok was one of the most dangerous cities in Russia. The combination of distance from Moscow, freedom and foreign money has proved to be a lethal mix. Corruption is endemic. It had Russia's highest crime rates and an economy controlled by organized crime. The rates of murders, muggings and other crimes were high. Sometimes there were two or three murders a night and Visitors were advised o stay in their hotels after sun set.

Although it is still a good idea to be vigilant, Vladivostok is much better than it used to be in terms of crime. The city was given a makeover before 2012, when it hosted the APEC summit. About US$6 billion was spent on new hotels, highways, theaters and casinos. A modern campus for the Russian Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) has been built and a beautiful waterfront has been developed. FEFU has attracted talented young people, and high-tech business from Russia and from abroad.

Location and Orientation of Vladivostok

Vladivostok is a port city on the coast of the Sea of Japan that serves as Russia’s gateway to the Asia-Pacific region. The city is situated on the picturesque hills on the banks of Golden Horn Bay, which is an excellent anchorage and large enough to accommodate commercial and fishing ports and shipbuilding enterprises. The city has traditionally been associated with the sea and the navy.

Vladivostok is seven hours ahead of Moscow, 10 hours ahead of Greenwich mean time (GMT), 15 hours ahead of eastern standard time (EST). It is geographically closer to Anchorage, Alaska and even Darwin, Australia than it is to the Moscow and closer to Honolulu, Hawaii than it is to the Russian city of Sochi.

Vladivostok is located in the southern extremity of Muravyov-Amursky Peninsula, which is about 30 kilometers (19 miles) long and 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) wide.The highest point is 257-meter (843 foot) Mount Kholodilnik. Eagle's Nest Hill is often called the highest point of the city but it is only 199 meters (653 feet) high. It is the highest point of the downtown area, but not of the whole city.

Vladivostok boundaries include the islands of Russian, Popov, Reynard, Ricord and a group of small uninhabited islands. Eastern Bosphorus Strait connects the two bays — Amur and Ussuri.

In 2012, two new bridge were opened in Vladivostok. Russian bridge leading from the mainland to the island of Russian, is the largest in the world by the length of the span. Golden Bridge ,linking the shores of the Golden Horn Bay has unique pylons that form a gigantic letter V.

Vladivostok Weather

Vladivostok has the same latitude as Nice in southern France but cold ocean currents and winds blowing from Siberia ensure that the climate is mich colder than the Riveria. The maritime climate means that the weather is unpredictable. The summers are warm and wet. the winters are cold and windy with little snowfall. The most sunny days are in autumn and winter. The most favorable time for outdoor activities is from July to October.

Vladivostok’s proximity to the sea, mountain ranges and vast forests creates a unique climate. The city has a relatively mild climate by Russian standards. Spring is chilly until May, with occasional snow occurring in March. Autumn is beautiful, with its warm temperatures and sunny weather. In the winter the temperatures range between 0°F and 25°F. Brisk, humid sea winds make temperatures seem colder.

Travelers should bring wool clothing, a sweater, gloves, winter hat, and a good raincoat with liner even in the summer. In the winter, one should have a winter coat, a scarf, waterproof boots with insulated lining, several pairs of waterproof mittens and long thermal underwear. Waterproof snow pants are all recommended. Good-quality fur hats and coats can be purchased in Vladivostok at reasonable prices. Bring insect repellent effective against mosquitoes and ticks for the summer. Vladivostok's utility systems has some issues. Hot water outages occur in the summer and fall, and occasional heating and electricity outages occur.

Transportation In Vladivostok

Vladivostok's public transportation is limited. Most people get around in trolley buses (buses connected to overhead electric wires). The best view of the city is from the lookout on top of 200-meter-high hill on Ulitsa Sukhanova and next to the DVGTU State Technical University. It is a 20 minute walk from the waterfront. There is funicular railway that leads to the views but it often isn't working.

In 1962, Vladivostok opened Russia's only cable car, with a length of 175 meters.A small van takes passengers to the observation platform of the hill Eagle's Nest — the highest point in central Vladivostok. Boat trips of varying distances and routes are offered.

Japanese vehicles are common in the city, and Toyota and Nissan maintain service centers with trained mechanics. South Korean and European vehicles are slowly becoming more common. Consider a four-wheel-drive vehicle, because Vladivostok's hilly terrain makes winter driving difficult. Snow tires are helpful in the winter, but are not mandatory, as snowfall is infrequent. As protection against car theft and vandalism, bring a steering wheel lock or other theft-protection device.

Marine Station is an administrative and commercial complex situated in the center of Vladivostok. It is where the Trans-Siberian railway ends its 9288 kilometers journey from Moscow and is a near shore of the Sea of Japan. The station has traditionally served as both a railway station and ship terminal. It is located is near the Naval Station, which includes five ship berths, a place for border and customs inspection, a restaurant, a hotel, a business center and conference complex. For the convenience of passengers and visitors to the Marine Station complex of various services: Luggage storage and carry-on baggage, sensory information, feference terminals, coffee shops and a supermarket.

Accommodation, Food and Restaurants in Vladivostok

There are many hotels in the region, the average stay at Vladivostok hotels costs RUB 5,000. The rooms of Azimut Hotel offer views of the Amur Bay. The interior design is simple. The Astoria Hotel is popular among foreign tourists. Its lobby is decorated in modern loft style. Ogonek Farm Restaurant is takes pride in its kitchen.

The Versailles Hotel is one of the oldest and most high-profile hotels of Vladivostok. Among its honored guests have been the polar explorer Roald Amundsen, Grand Duchess Maria Romanova, the famous Russian actor and director Oleg Tabakov, Patricia Kaas and others. The first floor of the hotel houses an art gallery.

The Equator Hotel layout echoes the Soviet era. There are, however, admirers of the hotel's menu. Equator Hotel is also known for its warm attitude towards visitors. The hotel's symbol is a cheerful octopus, which you can take with you from your room upon departure. The halls are decorated with original paintings by the hotel's director. If you particularly like one of the paintings, it is possible to buy it.

Good seafood, sushi and Chinese food are not so hard to find.. On the upscale restaurant scene in the late 2000s, Robert Reid wrote in the New York Times: “Nouveau riche establishments...take the form of dacha-style microbreweries and 24-hour pizzeria lounges you’re expected to dress up for. The money crowd heads to the Syndicate, a cavernous steakhouse that is set up like Al Capone-era Chicago, with homegrown blues bands and painted storefronts that look right out of “The Untouchables.” The menu includes a dish of grilled tiger prawns called Clan Soprano. (550 rubles). Also popular among the catwalk-ready crowd is Grand Café (Morskoi Vokzal, 7-4232-302-722; www.grand-cafe.ru), a split-level nightclub atop the former Morskoi Vokzal, or maritime terminal, on Golden Horn Bay. By day, it’s a quiet lunch spot to do business over salads and sandwiches; at night, boozy dance parties take over, spilling over to the large roof deck.” [Source: Robert Reid, New York Times, August 15, 2008]

Entertainment in Vladivostok

Vladivostok has a fairly active nightlife scenes, There are bars, magic shows, casino, strip joints and nightclubs. Some of them are patronized by some pretty shady characters. Many of the casinos are located in hotels and are filled with Chinese gamblers. There are also theaters, concerts and sports arenas that keep up a fairly full schedule of events.

The center of Vladivostok’s cultural life is Seaside Theater of Opera and Ballet, which opened in 2013. The Technical equipment of the theater is among the best in Russia. Architectural features include glass facade made on a "cube in a cube." The theater ‘s company — which make up it's orchestra, choir, opera and ballet troupe — includes artists from Russia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Bulgaria, Romania, the U.S., Brazil, South Korea and Japan.

The Unique singing monument to Vladimir Vysotsky can only be found in Vladivostok. In Theater Square, on the steps of the Vladimir Semenovich amphitheater, a sound system permanently belts out his own songs. The 2013 opening drew thousands.

On the upscale club scene in the late 2000s, Robert Reid wrote in the New York Times: ““Among the shiniest new spots is Okno (Batareynaya 3A), a flashy Moscow-style nightclub that occupies the top floor of a new office complex on Sportivnaya Harbor. On a recent night, young professionals in designer halter tops and stilettos were lounging on gold Baroque-style armchairs, sipping vodka-and-Red Bulls and dancing to a cover of “I Will Survive.” Price of admission? A whopping 3,000 rubles, or about US$125 at 24 rubles to the dollar. ““People come here to feel like they have the luxury life, even if they’re spending their last ruble,” said Okno’s manager, Evgeni Park, 30, who was dressed in Prada and Gucci and who drives around the city’s hilly streets in a 2005 Bentley Continental GT. ““Vladivostok used to have nothing,” said Mr. Park, “so now people want the best.” [Source: Robert Reid, New York Times, August 15, 2008]

Gorky Drama Theater is Vladivostok׳s oldest theaterr. It opened in 1932. In 1975 the theater moved to the building in which it occupies now, with a 916-seat auditorium and 100-seat Small Stage. The theater has toured in U.S.S.R., Europe, Asia, and the U.S. Its best performances have been shown in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. In 1997 it was granted an honorary title of Academic Theater.

Vladivostok Circus opened in 1973 its current building which has an auditorium that has 2034 seats. The first circus Vladivostok residents saw in 1885 from Lambergera troupe, circus then located in the Club Ravine Street Svetlanskaya, now occupied by the Sailor's Club Song and Dance Ensemble of the Pacific Fleet. Since then, Vladivostok opened nine different circuses. From 1938 to 1968, the circus was based in central square of Vladivostok opposite the cinema "Ussuri" in a circus tent that welcomed visitors from early spring to late autumn. In in 1973, the circus moved to the "shell."

Primring Sports Tourism Complex is the main sports and entertainment arena. It mainly hosts car and motorcycle races. The complex includes children's and youth sports schools. The track is open all-year and hosts ice racing in the winter time. The grandstands can accommodate 30,000 spectators.

Sights in Vladivostok

There isn't that much to see in Vladivostok. In has 600 historical monuments, mostly late 19th century and early 20th century houses, doesn't have old churches or elegant palaces. The historic town center has many buildings that were built in the 19th century, featuring both Western and Eastern architectural styles. There are pleasant walks along the waterfront with views of the commercial and naval facilities Architectural standouts include the Vladivostok Central railway Station and the guarded buildings on ulitsa Aleutskaya. Street musician and young people gather around the Square of the Fighters of the Soviet Power in the Far East.

The city's most popular beach is at Lazurnaya Bay (Shamora). Among the Military-related sights are the Vladivostok Fortress, the Nameless Artillery Battery in Vladivostok city center and Fort No. 7 near the Zarya factory. Fortress facilities — including forts on volcanoes and batteries on capes — are scattered over a large area from the suburbs of Vladivostok to the islands of Peter the Great Bay: One can stumble across fortifications almost anywhere in Vladivostok. Vladivostok is also the largest scientific and cultural center of the Far East. The Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences and several universities, academies and research institutions and located in the city. In a suburban area you can find a Botanical Garden and learn a lot about the unique flora of the Primorsky Territory.

Admiral Square is located in the historical center of Vladivostok at the intersection of main street Svetlanskaya and Ship Quay. In the 19th century the area occupied by the square was a backfilled gully. In 1899 the first garden city was laid out here. Tthe garden became known as “Admiral”, the name which it is still known today. Later the garden became a square, with fountains, a pool and a figure of Neptune.

Vladivostok Arbat (near the Central Square) is officially known as ulitsa Admirala Fokina and has many shops and restaurants. In Vladivostok it is called the Arbat, as it is relatively short (less than a kilometer) and is fully pedestrianised. One of the oldest streets of the city, it was previously called “Beijing” in honor of the Beijing Treaty of 1860 (the year of Foundation of Vladivostok), which formally gave Russia possession of the Far East. In 2011 at the “Arbat” underwent a major reconstruction. The pedestrian zone was improved, fountains were installed and gardens and plants were planted. From April to November street musicians and representatives of various youth movements and groups are gathered here, but everyone is friendly.

Eagle's Nest Hill is often called the highest point of Vladivostok. Known in Russian as “Orlinoe Gnezdo”, it is 199 meters (653 feet) high. It is the highest point of the downtown area, but not of the whole city. The highest point for the whole city is 257-meter (843 foot) Mount Kholodilnik. The hill’s name is derived from the main episode of the Russo-Turkish war, the Battle for the Shipka Pass, better known as the Defense of the Eagle’s Nest. There is an observation platform at the top, where one can enjoy superb views of the city and the Sikhote-Alin mountain range and the Sea of Japan. A television tower, a section of forest, some houses, a monument to Cyril and Methodius, honoring the creators of the Cyrillic script, some stones of friendship from Vladivostok’s sister city in Japan, and the Arch of Desires are on or around this platform. A small van takes passengers to the observation platform.

Fort No. 7 of Tsesarevich Aleksey is the most accessible and the best equipped of Vladivostok fortresses. Partly restored, it was originally built between 1910 and 1916. The length of the substructure is about 1.5 kilometers. There is a panoramic view of Vladivostok, Amur Bay, De-Vries peninsula, and northern part of the Russky Island. Currently, 30 percent of the fort’s accommodations are equipped with the electric lighting.

Korabelnaya Embankment and Memorial Submarine S-56

The Korabelnaya Embankment is a nice place to take a stroll and one of the favorite recreation areas in the city. There are good views of naval ships. The embankment and and surrounding grounds are full of memorials and historical monuments such as: 1) Krasner Vympel (Red Pennant) museum-ship: the Memorial to the Military Glory of Pacific Fleet; 2) Guard submarine C-56 museum: the holding the Order of the Red Banner; 3) the 14-meters high obelisk in the shape of the full-blown sail; 4) the chapel of St. Andrew; and 5) Triumphal Gates (Tsesarevicha Arch).

The history of Vladivostok began here when 28 soldiers and two non-commissioned officers under warrant officer Komarov command disembarked from the screw vessel “Manchzhur” in the Zolotoy Rog Bay. The northern coast of the bay was reconstructed during the preparation to the 2012 APEC Summit. The embankment s area size was expanded.

The S-56 "Red Banner" submarine, which sank 10 vessels in World War II, is now a museum with a collection of photographs inside. It is possible wander around inside and see the engine room and torpedo tudes. You can look through the periscope, turn the steering wheel and sit on the sailor’s bunk. After World War II the submarine served in the Northern Fleet. It returned to Vladivostok following the Northern Sea Route in 1954 and became the first Soviet submarine to circumnavigate the globe.

The submarine was installed at the Korabelnaya Naberezhnaya (literally Ships׳ Quay) near the headquarters of the Pacific Fleet in 1975 for the 30th anniversary of the victory in World War II. To install it in its present location, the submarine׳s hull was cut in several parts and rewelded on the shore. Now it is a branch of the Military and History Museum of the Pacific Fleet. The museum tells the story of the Pacific Fleet׳s history. There are documents, honours and models of submarines.

Vladivostok Fortress Museum

Vladivostok Fortress was once regarded as one the best maritime defensive structures in the world. Recognized as a monument of history and military-defensive architecture, it still look quite formidable today and is probably the most interesting tourist sight in Vladivostok, The fortress museum has a collection of military hardware, including torpedoes, missiles and sea mines. The Museum of the Pacific Fleet is housed in a church surrounded by weapons. Tours of the naval facilities and underground defense are available with English-speaking guides.

The first post was established here more than 150 years ago on the banks of the Golden Horn. This museum’s exhibits showcase the naval history of Vladivostok in its entirety. Currently the museum holds Vladivostok: Vvremya Kreposti (Vladivostok: Age of Fortresses) exposition, which tells about the fortress as an engineering and architectural phenomenon, about its role in the history of the city and the country and how it has changed the lives of the Russian people.

The complete fortifications of Vladivostok, are currently hinted only by the contours atop mountains, along the roads, and by the seashore. They have for a long time not been usedand have fallen into disrepair and lost their once menacing appearance. At its peak the citadel embraced bout 130 fortifications, fortified places, and coastal batteries equipped with 14,000 guns, which, never fired a shot at an enemy, were placed in 400 square kilometers.

Fortress facilities — including forts on volcanoes and batteries on capes — are scattered over a large area from the suburbs of Vladivostok to the islands of Peter the Great Bay: One can stumble across fortifications almost anywhere in Vladivostok. Among the Military-related sights are the Vladivostok Fortress, the Nameless Artillery Battery in Vladivostok city center and Fort No. 7 near the Zarya factory.

History of Vladivostok Fortress

The story of the fortress starts with the construction of a small seaport in the Far East. The forces under the command of warrant officer Nikolay Vasilievich Komarov landed in the bay Golden Horn for this purpose on July 2, 1860. A small wooden fort with the barracks and various household structures was constructed as a forward post in four months. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, due to the weapon development, it became clear that the existing military fortifications of Vladivostok were far less than adequate for defending Russia’s eastern borders. The construction of a new forward post was ordered.

The new fortress was designed by military engineer Paul Simon Unterberger. Over 13,000 big and small elements of the defense system, which was without equals in the world, were constructed within a short period of time using technologies that were considered cutting-edge at the time: mechanical perforators, stone breakers, and aerial cableways. Many Chinese initially worked at the construction site, but when the underground and concrete work was started they were dismissed for military secrecy reasons. Russian men were employed instead of them.

A Japanese squadron under of Admiral Kakimura attacked Vladivostok in February 1904, and fired 200 missiles at the fortifications. The fortress didn’t fire any shots back due to its unreadiness. Vladivostok was lucky. The city wasn’t damaged much either and the attack served as a wake up call, revealing weaknesses and errors to military engineers, who worked out ways to improve the fortifications. A large amount of money was allocated for the construction of the main defense line. Forts, fortified places, and anti-mine galleries were constructed and Vladivostok was transformed into the largest sea fortress in the world, with a garrison able to hold 80,000 people.

The Voroshilov Battery was constructed by Soviet engineers-fortifiers on Russian Island in 1934. The underground and rock construction took two years. The concrete structures under two towers went underground to a depth of 15 meters. The 3.5-meter-thick concrete dome could withstand a direct hit from a bomb weighing a ton. The towers of the battery were connected by underground passages more than 200 meters long. The huge guns of the battery weighed 51 ton. In the absence of electric power they could be rotated by the muscle of 10 men.

The Voroshilov Battery remained battle ready until 1997. It is currently part of the War-Historical Museum of Pacific Fleet of the Russian Federation. During a test in 1992,, a cask of two meters in diameter was destroyed by the third shot fired more than 10 kilometers away by one of the guns of the Voroshilov Battery

The fortress museum’s main building is situated in a mansion built in 1903 for the families and single officers of the Siberian naval depot. The museum holds a unique collection of 40,000 items, including weapons, personal items of the Russian seamen, flags, ship models, and a collection of paintings by the well-known painters of Primorsky Krai.

Museums in Vladivostok

Vladivostok has over 30 museums, including an art museum, a museum of natural history, an military museum, an aquarium, a body guard guards museum and a restored 19th century, furnished houses called the Sukhanov Museum. The Museum of Archeology and Ethnography — a branch of the Museum of Sciences — has a collection of 300,000 objects collected during 130 years of expeditions and researcher. The Russian Historical and Technical Museum Oldtimers. The museum has a unique collection of Russian and foreign automotive vehicles 20-70s of 20th century, which includes more than fifty vintage cars and motorcycles of different brands.

The V. K. Arsenyev's Memorial House Museum is the oldest museum of the Far East and the largest in Vladivostok. Among 400,000 items in the museum’s collection are stuffed animals, including a rare Amur leopard and a large Siberian tiger as well geological displays, Japanese ceramics and old motorcycles. One person posted on Trip Advisor: Nice and unpretentious museum offering a glimpse into the life of an early 20th century Russian officer and explorer, but of little interest for those who aren't fans .

Maritime Art Gallery has a unique collection of Russian, Soviet and foreign painting and graphics. The collection has more than 5,000 works of art. When it was founded in 1929, the gallery received paintings from the Hermitage and the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg and the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow but the majority of the collection consists of works by contemporary artists and sculptors from the Far East seaside.

Hermitage in Vladivostok is branch of St. Petersburg’s famous Hermitage museum that will soon appear in Vladivostok. With the support of the government of the Russian Federation and the Ministry of culture at the Vladivostok Hermitage will be exhibit masterpieces from the St. Petersburg museum as well as works by local artists. The museum, will be housed in the “modern romantic” Kunst and Albers built in 1903. Paintings will be exhibited in the former dining room, billiards room and ballroom.

Sea Cucumber Museum is a relatively large museum dedicated solely to sea cucumbers. Visitors will learn about the animal itself, how it is gathered and about its unique properties. Sea cucumbers (trepang) are vallued in Chinese medicine for their healing benefits and are a major export item of the Russian Far East. In Lesnoy (Forest) hall you can see how birch chaga contributes to human health.

Near Vladivostok

Near Vladivostok are rugged mountains and deserted beaches. Locals get away from it all by taking ferries to Koraabelnaya, a small town with nice beaches, and the Popov archipelago, where some residents have dachas. Trips can also be organized to Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve, Primorsky Maritime Reserve and Lake Khanka, a great place to see birds. Boat trips can be arranged to scenic coastal areas and islands. The sea areas around Vladivostok are amazingly beautiful with numerous bays and high rocky cliffs interspersed with flat sandy beaches. Largi, spotted seals, are seen on Russky island and Tokarevskaya Spit.

According to Lonely Planet: “Out of Vladivostok there is a range of ferries to nearby islands and to beach resorts further south along the coast. For the truly adventurous with a month or so to spare, it may be possible to hitch a lift on one of the supply ships that sail out of Nakhodka and Vladivostok up to the Arctic Circle towns of Anadyr and Provideniya.”

According to “Cities of the World”: “Vladivostok, Primorskiy Territory, and the entire Russian Far East offer a wide variety of outdoor activities. In Vladivostok, popular summer activities include sailing, fishing and hunting. In the winter, one can go cross-country skiing, ice skating, and ice fishing. Sailboats and motor vessels may be rented and are popular in the summer for trips to nearby islands and beaches. It is also possible to go deep-sea fishing, while shore fishing and freshwater (particularly trout) fishing are popular throughout the region.

“Hiking and camping are also popular, particularly in the mountains and taiga (primeval forest) north of the city. Swimming is not recommended at many of the beaches near the city due to environmental concerns and the relatively cold water. There are several sandy beaches, which offer good sites for picnics and sunbathing, within an hour's drive of the city. Scuba diving for advanced divers is available and some scuba equipment may even be rented locally. Vladivostok's relatively snow-free winters make it necessary to travel inland for the best cross-country skiing, but deep snow can be found less than 160 kilometers 00 miles away. Downhill skiing is available in various locations in the Russian Far East. [Source: Cities of the World, Gale Group Inc., 2002, from a 2000 Department of State report]

Golden Bridge and Russky Bridge

In 2012, two unique bridge were opened in Vladivostok. The Russky (Russian) Bridge leading from Vladivostok and the mainland to Russky (Russian) Island. This bridge has the world’s longest span length. The other new bridge, Golden Bridge, is know for its unique V-shaped pylons. Another major bridge in Vladivostok is the Zolotoy Bridge across Zolotoy Rog Bay.

Golden Bridge is a bridge across the Golden Horn Bay, that has shortened a journey from the trip from Vladivostok to Cape Churkin from a 1.5-2 hour boat trip to 5-10 minute road trip. The construction of the bridge has been planned since the 1950s when Nikita Khrushchev visited to Vladivostok and added the bridge the city’s master plan. Construction of the bridge finally began in 2008 as part of the new infrastructure for the APEC summit 2012. Designated as the largest cable-stayed bridges in the world, it is 1,388 meters long, with a span length of 737 meters, and stands 60 meters above water. The bridge’s pylons are 226 meters tall and the outline of the structure is similar to the letter ”V”. The bridge has six lanes for vehicles and walking and bicycling lane that offers fantastic views and connects with a special 70-kilometer-long track.

Russky Bridge stretches across the Eastern Bosphorus Strait, connecting the mainland’s Nazimov Peninsula with Novosilsky Cape on Russky Island. The bridge has a pylon height of 324 meters (the 2nd highest in the world), a span length of 1,104 meters (the longest in the world not on a suspension bridge), a total length of 3,100 meters, and a height above sea level of 70 meters.

The construction of the bridge to Russky Island was started in 2008. It too was a part of the plan to prepare Vladivostok for the APEC-2012 summit. The bridge's pylons resemble the letter “A” and its cable stays are decorated with the colors of the Russian flag. The Russky Bridge has four lanes and is narrower than other bridges. Pedestrians are not allowed to walk the bridge because of wind gusts of up to 108 kilometers per hour. After this bridge opened, more and more people prefer to visit Russky Island to spend their leisure time.This has helped to reduce the load on the city's most popular beach at Lazurnaya Bay (Shamora).

Tourist Sights Close to Vladivostok

Primorsky Oceanarium (on Russky Island) is one of the largest scientific and educational complexes in the world. The aquarium resembles an open white mollusk shell. While visiting this large shell, you may find yourself in the tropics, meet dinosaurs, count a crocodile's teeths and walk past 135 aquariums with over 500 marine species from all the world’s oceans and climatic zones. planet. The complex also houses a 70-meter underwater tunnel and a dolphinarium with an arena pool. The program includes a dolphin and seal show, dances with stingrays and feeding Baikal seals and penguins.

Primorsky Safari Park (60 kilometers northeast of Vladivostok, two kilometers from Shkotovo) is park where animals run free in fairly large spaces not a zoos. Among the animals that live here are Himalayan bears, red wolves, deer, Amur tigers and Daurian cranes. Some of them you can feed, touch and photograph. Visitors are not allowed to roam the park freely. Only guided tours are allowed. All visitors are given instructions by their guide before the tour starts. There is a picnic spot, as well as a souvenir shop, nearby the park. The park is open year-round.

Pidan Hill (in Shkotovskiy district, 50 kilometers northeast of Vladivostok) is 1332 meters high and is a popular hiking destination. Ancient writings by local ethnic groups describe the hill as magical. The legend says that enormous cult quartz crystal was set there and only people performing sacrifices could the reach. The name of the mountain comes from Jurchen’s tribes that inhabited the territory, and means, “stones, bulked by God”. Scattered around the hill are huge stone blocks. There are dolmens and an impressive cyclopean block wall about 500 meters long at the the top. Pidan is located in the middle of the Livadiyskiy Range. When the weather is good there are beautiful panoramic views of other mountains, islands and the sea. When it is cloudy an even more impressive panorama can be seen — the mountains rising above the white field of clouds.

The summit of Pidan Hill can be reached in one day, but many people visit it as part of a two-day tour. At the foot of the mountain there are recreation centers with barbecue places, parking lots and bathhouses. The warm months are the best time for such trips, since you can spend the nights along the route in your own tent. Make sure you warn the Ministry of Emergency Situations before embarking on this route.

There are other hiking destinations in the area. From the top of Olkhovaya Mountain, tourists can see a beautiful panoramic view. Chandolaz, which means “a large elongated mountain”, attracts visitors with its stories of lost expeditions, mysterious caves and endless branching labyrinths. Dardanelles Cheeks Ravine offers unique terrain, gorgeous views and interesting history. Cliffs and buttes resembling ancient castles tower along the ravine's slopes, and rocky stairs go all the way down to the river.

Far East Marine State Biosphere Reserve

Far East Marine State Biosphere Reserve (a few kilometers north of Vladivostok) is located in the western part of the Japan Sea and occupies 10 percent of the Peter the Great Gulf. It is the most southern and the warmest water area of the Russian Far East. The Reserve’s territory consists of 11 islands with a total area of 11 square kilometers. The reserve was created in 1978 to preserve the Peter the Great Gulf s environment. The total area of the Reserve is 643.16 square kilometers, of which 630 square kilometers is water. There are more than 5,000 different species of animals and plants in the reserve.

The east area of the reserve is for the most part off limits to people other than scientists and researchers. The northern area has an excursion zone, with a museum, a nature center, outdoor recreation area and botanical garden on the Likander peninsula. The reserve natural monuments are Golubiny Utyos (Pigeon Cliff), Syudari Hill, Ogorodnaya Lagoon, and Bolshoe Krugloe lake. Verkhovskiy and Karamzin islands are under reserve’s protection.

The reserve has monsoon climate with persistent winds, storms and fogs. West and northwest winds blow from the mainland to the sea in the winter and bring cold and dry air. Winter has a small amount of snow; the average air temperature is -11 degrees C. Summer is warm with frequent rains, storms, and fogs. The average temperature in August is 21 degrees C.

The reserve contains 40 percent of plants known in Primorye. A total of 925 vascular plant species are described, 62 are specially protected. Oriental ostrich fern (Matteuccia Orientalis), raspberry (Rubus idaeus), germander, Limonium tetragonum, creeper (Parthenocissus) are of high scientific and nature value. The populations of these five species of plants are protected only in the Far East Marine State Biosphere Reserve in Russia.

A total of 370 bird species have been counted, of which 223, including seabirds, and breeding and migrating birds, can be watched directly within reserve. A total of 28 species of birds such as rhinoceros auklet, peregrine falcon, swinhoe, storm petrel, and streaked sharewater are listed in the Red Book of Russia and in the IUCN Red List. You can also see unique species such as black-faced spoonbills and Chinese egrets.

The Far Eastern State Marine Biosphere Reserve s water area is the richest in Russia in terms of species diversity. It is inhabited by more than 2130 species of animals and plants. Subtropical and Arctic species of animals are found there, including 170 fish species, 300 species of crustaceans, 30 species of echinoderm and 200 species of Mollusks, 7 of which are listed in the Red Book of Russia, inhabit there. Common minke whales, killer whales and dolphins come to the reserve’s waters. Species normally associated with subtropical seas such as tuna, swordfish, toxic takifugu, sargassum fish, and tiger shark are the reserve’s waters. main "South" rookeries of the largi spotted seals is on the Islands of Rimsky-Korsakov. This archipelago is part of the Far Eastern State Marine Reserve. Spotted seals breed in February–March. For four to five weeks females feed milk to their pup. After that the pups begin an independent life and fend for themselves..

Military Ghost Facilities Near Vladivostok

Ian Frazier wrote in The New Yorker: “Rather than go straight to Olga, we turned off at a little road where a sign pointed to Vesyolyi Yar—Merry Cliff. This road as it led eastward and Pacific-ward was not particularly merry. The closer we approached to the coast, the more falling-down military structures cluttered the scene. Overhead, the sky got bluer and lighter simultaneously in an ever-brightening expansiveness that could only be a reflection of the Pacific just beyond. At the top of each rise, I thought I’d see it. Then we came over a crest above an unusually steep descent, and there ahead, in the notch between two hills: the Pacific Ocean. Against the green of the trees it was a deep pelagic blue, with many white waves. [Source: Ian Frazier, The New Yorker, August 10 and 17, 2009, Frazier is author of “Travels in Siberia” (2010) ]

“Past a few more hills and an abandoned gate checkpoint, and then we were on a level, sandy road that served as the main street of another military ghost town. On either side of the road, block after block of three- or four-story cement residential buildings with most of their window glass out showed only occasional signs of human presence. An onshore breeze rattling through the ruins smelled like the sea and made the vacant place spookier.

“I saw the water just in glimpses between the buildings, but then the road bore left and we were driving alongside the shore. We stopped and got out. Here we had arrived not at a regular beach, with big rollers coming in, but at the semi-fortified edge of Vladimirskaya Bay. The Pacific rollers I had hoped for could be seen in the distance, at the bay’s entrance between its northern and southern headlands. At this spot there were just rocks and broken concrete and pieces of rusted iron, and a small black cow looking for something to eat among them. Between the road and the water a four-meter-high observation tower leaned to one side, and the hulks of two wrecked ships, one still with its stacks and superstructure, sat grounded and tilted over not too far out in the bay.

“On the ocean-facing side of a big rock, someone had spray-painted the “NY” logo of the New York Yankees and the “LA” logo of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Also in big white letters on the rock was the word “RAP.” We drove along the shore a little farther, until there were fewer ghost buildings around. In this part, the beach was more beachlike and offered a better setting for our momentous arrival. Wave-smoothed stones and actual sand inclined down to clear and cold waves that were breaking hard on this windy day. Strands of kelp lay here and there like pieces of reel-to-reel tape. I went to the water and put my hand in and cupped some of it and tasted salt. Sergei immediately stripped down to his briefs and dove in and swam. Volodya recorded the event with the video camera while I made a sketch of the bay and the ocean and the sky. During his dip, Sergei stepped on a sea-urchin spine, a painful development, but he mentioned it only in passing among the shouting, hilarity, and mutual congratulations. Finally, we were here. Today was Tuesday, September 11, 2001. We had crossed Russia by land from the Baltic Sea to the Pacific Ocean in five weeks and two days”

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Federal Agency for Tourism of the Russian Federation (official Russia tourism website russiatourism.ru ), Russian government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Yomiuri Shimbun and various books and other publications.

Updated in September 2020

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