Moscow's Must-See Sights

A visit to the Motherland won’t be complete without a tour of its dynamic capital city. From the iconic Red Square to the lavishly designed metro stations, here’s what you can’t miss in Moscow.

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Ice Hockey
Ice Hockey

Ice Hockey

We love the Russians for their sportsmanship and fan spirit. Here in the US, we’ve adopted their love for ice hockey, but there are other popular sports in Russia, including basketball, football, gymnastics, wrestling, boxing, rugby, skiing, rugby and bandy -- a “cheaper” version of hockey where skaters use sticks to direct a ball into the opposing team’s goal. 960 1280

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Moscow Royal Ballet

Moscow Royal Ballet

Russia is known for its excellence in fine arts. We love watching dancers from the Moscow Royal Ballet, accompanied by the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, perform to Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake.” The country has also cranked out several unforgettable artists, including ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov and composer Igor Stravinsky. 960 1280

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Matryoshka Dolls

Matryoshka Dolls

Visit any Russian souvenir shop and you’re sure to find matryoshka dolls, a set of wooden dolls of decreasing size placed one inside the other. The first nested doll set was carved in 1890; today, they don’t always follow the traditional peasant girl theme. Some themes vary from fairy tale characters to Soviet leaders, yet artistry in the painting of each doll remains a constant. 960 1280

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Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837)

Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837)

We love that Russian authors and poets are honored all over the world. In Medellin, Colombia, a statue of Alexander Pushkin was donated by the Russian Writers’ Union to the University of Antioquia. Pushkin was a Russian author of the Romantic era whom many consider the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature. Other popular Russian writers include Leo Tolstoy and Anton Chekhov. 960 1280

RAUL ARBOLEDA  

Caviar

Caviar

What better place to taste some of the world’s best and freshest caviar than in Russia? Sample sevruga, the least expensive caviar, or beluga, the most expensive, followed by ossetra. We recommend sampling the sevruga caviar served with buckwheat pancakes at Café Pushkin in Moscow. 960 1280

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Sochi

Sochi

We love the fact that Sochi, Russia’s largest resort town, located on the Black Sea coast near the border between Georgia and Russia, will be transformed into the host city for the 2014 Winter Olympics; it will also be a host city for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. 960 1280

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Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova

We admire Maria Sharapova’s stamina and competitive edge. Although the Russian pro tennis player has lived in the US since 1994, she is the top Russian player, winning 29 WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) singles titles, including 4 Grand Slam titles. And as of September 2013, WTA has ranked her the third-best woman tennis player in the world. 960 1280

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Milla Jovovich

Milla Jovovich

We love Russian actors like Yul Brenner for his Broadway performance in “The King and I.” And on the opposite end of the spectrum, we love Milla Jovovich. You may recognize Milla as the take-charge women who kicked butt in the popular sci-fi movie franchise Resident Evil. 960 1280

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Chicken Kiev

Chicken Kiev

We enjoy eating chicken Kiev, a breaded cutlet dish of boneless chicken breast pounded and rolled around in cold garlic butter with herbs. This popular Russian entrée can be fried or baked. 960 1280

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Alexander Ovechkin

Alexander Ovechkin

Fans of the Washington Capitals love their Russian hockey winger and captain, Alexander Ovechkin. Prior to playing in the NHL, Alexander played for the HC Dynamo Moscow of the Russian Superleague for 4 seasons. To date, he has racked up several prestigious awards, including 3 Hart Memorial trophies (Most Valuable Player), 3 Lester B. Pearson Award/Ted Lindsey Award (Most Outstanding Player), NHL Player of the Year and the Wayne Gretzky Award (MVP). 960 1280

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Saint Basil's Cathedral

Saint Basil's Cathedral

We love Russia’s unique architecture, as you’ll see when visiting Saint Basil’s Cathedral, located in Moscow’s Red Square. The cathedral, built between1555 and 1561 on the orders of Ivan the Terrible, commemorates the capture of Kazan and Astrakhan. The building was an influential precursor to the great age of Russian national architecture in the 17th century. 960 1280

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Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff

We love Russian cuisine, including goulash, chicken Kiev, birsch and kvass, but beef stroganoff is yet another tasty dish we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention. This delicious dish consists of sautéed pieces of beef sometimes served over a bed of rice or noodles with sour cream. 960 1280

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The Kremlin

The Kremlin

We love sightseeing in Russia and visiting Hermitage Museum, Valley of Geysers, Lake Baikal, Red Square, St. Petersburg and the Moscow Kremlin (pictured). Overlooking the Moskva River to the south, the Kremlin is a historic complex that features 5 palaces, 4 cathedrals and the enclosing Kremlin Wall and towers. It is the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation. 960 1280

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Kizhi Island

Kizhi Island

Take a boat ride to explore Kizhi Island. Located on Lake Onega, Kizhi has become part of an open-air museum with more than 80 historic wooden structures, moved from parts of Karelia for preservation purposes. Dating back to the 17th century, Kizhi Pogost is the most famous historic site, built only of wood. It includes 2 large wooden churches and a bell tower inside a fence. Kizhi Pogost is a UNESCO World Heritage site; it’s also listed as a Russian Cultural Heritage site. 960 1280

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Vodka

Vodka

We love vodka! We couldn’t have our tasty cocktails like a bloody Mary, screwdriver, white Russian, Moscow mule or a vodka martini without this distilled liquor and the proper mixers. According to legend, a monk named Isidore from Chudov Monastery, inside the Moscow Kremlin, made a recipe for the first Russian vodka in 1430. Some popular Russian brands of vodka include Russian standard and Stolichnaya. 960 1280

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Doctor Zhivago

Doctor Zhivago

We love the forbidden love story that unfolds in the 1965 movie Doctor Zhivago, starring actors Omar Sharif (right), Geraldine Chaplin (left) and Julie Christie. Based on the novel by Russian author Boris Pasternak, the movie follows the life of a Russian doctor/poet who, although married, falls for a political activist’s wife and experiences hardships during the Bolshevik Revolution. 960 1280

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Vareniki

Vareniki

A Ukrainian contribution to Russian cuisine, vareniki are square- or crescent-shaped dumplings filled with mashed potatoes, sauerkraut, cheese, cabbage, meat or hard-boiled egg, or a combination of those ingredients. They're typically served smothered with butter and fried onions. What could be better? 960 1280

Katie Hards  

Pickled Vegetables

Pickled Vegetables

Russians know that pickled vegetables are good for the gut, so an assortment of them, known as soleniya, is a typical appetizer served at lunch or dinner. This plate contains a whole pickled tomato, cabbage and cucumber. 960 1280

Katie Hards  

Piroshki

Piroshki

Piroshki are small, baked or fried buns eaten as a snack or appetizer. Common savory fillings include cabbage, mushrooms, beef or potatoes; sweet fillings may include fresh fruits, jam or cheeses. 960 1280

Katie Hards  

Taranka

Taranka

Taranka, a salted and dried fish, is a popular snack in Russia. It's often eaten with beer to balance the saltiness. 960 1280

Katie Hards  

Khachapuri

Khachapuri

Khachapuri, a salty, cheese-filled bread from neighboring Georgia, is a popular savory snack throughout Russia as well. 960 1280

Katie Hards  

Russian Appetizers

Russian Appetizers

Traditional appetizers found on the Russian dining table include (clockwise from top): blini with red caviar; a variety of smoked fish, including salmon, butterfish and paddlefish; and Olivier salad. Moscow’s Ermitage Hotel is the birthplace of the famous Olivier salad, which is made of boiled potatoes with some combination of pickles, capers, peas, carrots, celery, egg, chicken, fish or ham, and sometimes caviar. The tang and crunch of the salad is embraced by a smooth mayonnaise dressing, adding a creamy texture. 960 1280

Katie Hards  

Borscht

Borscht

Served either hot or cold, borscht is a popular and hearty beet soup that also happens to come in a vibrant color. 960 1280

Katie Hards  

Kotletki

Kotletki

Russians often argue about whose mother makes the best kotletki, a small cutlet of minced meats, such as chicken, pork, beef and fish. Typical accompaniments to this lightly pan-fried patty include hearty sides including potatoes and buckwheat kasha. 960 1280

Katie Hards  

Russian Cakes

Russian Cakes

Which of these 3 Russian cakes will soothe your sweet tooth the most? Will it be (clockwise from bottom) medovnik, a traditional Russian honey cake; a spongy cake with vanilla cream, apricots, prunes, raisins and nuts; or Napoleon cake, which layers flaky puff pastry with cream and nuts? 960 1280

Katie Hards  

Russian Entrees

Russian Entrees

Dinner may include entrees such as (clockwise from top) stuffed cabbage (golubtsi); traditional chicken Kiev; and beef stroganoff with buckwheat kasha. 960 1280

Katie Hards  

Russian Pastries

Russian Pastries

Breakfast, dessert and special holidays call for pastries in Russia. Among the popular varieties are (clockwise from top) traditional poppy-seed rolls; sochnik, a puff pastry filled with sweet cheese and raisins; and tiny pechenie cookies with fruit filling. 960 1280

Katie Hards  

Pelmeni

Pelmeni

These small, minced-meat-filled dumplings are a staple of Russian cuisine. Sometimes served in a broth, pelmeni are also eaten plain with sour cream or melted butter on top. Fillings include veal, pork, lamb or Siberian meat (a combination of veal and pork). Their thin shells set them apart from other Russian dumplings, as do their always-savory fillings. 960 1280

Katie Hards  

Smoked Meats

Smoked Meats

What meat lover wouldn’t want to try this? Kolbasa, or Russian sausage, comes in a variety of forms, including smoked, cured, boiled and fresh, and is made of beef, pork or veal. Kolbasa is often eaten as a snack, sometimes with a piece of hearty, dark rye bread. 960 1280

Katie Hards  

Russian Vodka

Russian Vodka

What would Russian culture be without vodka? This strong, clear beverage is distilled from potatoes and grain and is widely consumed throughout Russia. Vodka is commonly enjoyed cold from small, stemless wineglasses, usually during a meal. 960 1280

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Matryoshka Doll

Matryoshka Doll

A traditional matryoshka doll covering warms a dish of pelmeni at Mari Vanna, a Russian restaurant in New York City. 960 1280

Katie Hards  

Silver Strand Waterfall

Silver Strand Waterfall

At the eastern end of the Nan Lian Garden, visitors can find the Silver Strand waterfall. Look closer, it hides the Chi Lin Vegetarian restaurant. 960 1280

Arthur Hsu  

Zi Wu bridge leads to the golden Perfection Pavilion

Zi Wu bridge leads to the golden Perfection Pavilion

At the Nan Lian Garden, a Tang Dynasty-styled red Zi Wu bridge leads to the golden Perfection Pavilion. However, the bridge is non-functional. 960 1280

Arthur Hsu  

Bouldering in Tsuen Wan

Bouldering in Tsuen Wan

Parks make up nearly 40% of Hong Kong’s land. No surprise, then, the city offers great outdoor activities such as bouldering in Tsuen Wan, with breathtaking views of the city’s high-rises just beyond. 960 1280

Arthur Hsu  

Lamma Island

Lamma Island

To the west of Hong Kong Island, Lamma Island offers a scenic escape from the city’s urban madness. 960 1280

Arthur Hsu  

Tian Tan Buddha

Tian Tan Buddha

Take a walk up 268 steps to reach the Tian Tan Buddha. The massive bronze statue sits atop the Ngong Ping Plateau on Lantau Island. 960 1280

Arthur Hsu  

Six Devas

Six Devas

Surrounding the Tian Tan Buddha are bronze statues known as the Six Devas, each posed offering flowers, incense, a lamp, ointment, fruit and music. 960 1280

Arthur Hsu  

Po Lin Monastery

Po Lin Monastery

Also on Lantau Island, the Po Lin Monastery is an international Buddhist retreat and popular tourist attraction. The Tian Tan Buddha is an extension of the monastery. 960 1280

Arthur Hsu  

Heart Sutra on the Wisdom Path

Heart Sutra on the Wisdom Path

On Lantau Island, take a short walk from the Po Lin Monastery along the Wisdom Path to reach a monument of wooden columns inscribed with the Heart Sutra. 960 1280

Arthur Hsu  

Man Mo Temple

Man Mo Temple

The Man Mo Temple sits in the midst of Hong Kong’s central district. Inside, visitors can see large coils of incense hanging from the ceiling. 960 1280

Arthur Hsu  

Chi Lin Nunnery

Chi Lin Nunnery

The Chi Lin Nunnery is a large Buddhist temple complex in Kowloon. Founded in 1934, it was rebuilt in the 1990s in a Tang Dynasty-style. 960 1280

Arthur Hsu  

The Center

The Center

A sculpture sits outside The Center, Hong Kong’s fifth tallest skyscraper. 960 1280

Arthur Hsu  

Po Lin Monastery

Po Lin Monastery

The aroma of giant incense sticks fills the air around Po Lin Monastery. 960 1280

Arthur Hsu  

Nan Lian Garden's serenepond

Nan Lian Garden's serenepond

Set against Hong Kong’s skyscrapers, visitors can enjoy Nan Lian Garden’s serenepond, as well as the Silver Strand waterfall, accessible by the Pavilion Bridge. 960 1280

Arthur Hsu  

The clock tower at the Kowloon Public Pier

The clock tower at the Kowloon Public Pier

The clock tower at the Kowloon Public Pier gives Star Ferry passengers a time reminder. 960 1280

Arthur Hsu  

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Angkor’s “Great City”

Angkor’s “Great City”

To enter Angkor’s “Great City,” known as Angkor Thom, visitors must cross a bridge lined by a series of stone figures, representing good and evil. On the left side are 54 protector gods and on the right, 54 demon gods, playing out an ancient Hindu myth. Angkor Thom’s South Gate is one of the best preserved of this site’s entrances. 960 1280

Robin Bennefield   

Terrace of the Elephants

Terrace of the Elephants

These stone elephants have seen centuries of Khmer kingdom pomp and circumstance, serving as the base of the 382-yard-long Terrace of the Elephants. The terrace was the king’s viewing stand for public ceremonies and military victory parades, featuring infantry, cavalry, horse-drawn carriages and elephants, of course. 960 1280

Robin Bennefield  

Banteay Srei

Banteay Srei

There are some temples on the outskirts of the main Angkor Wat temple complex, and Banteay Srei is an amazingly well-preserved one. Its strong, pink-hued sandstone base could be one of the reasons, along with the fact that it was the first Angkor temple to undergo restoration. Banteay Srei means “Citadel of the Women,” and some believe only a woman could have carved its delicate wall reliefs. 960 1280

Robin Bennefield  

Main Angkor Wat Temple

Main Angkor Wat Temple

An aerial view shows the grand expanse of the main Angkor Wat temple, demonstrating the meaning of its name, “temple that is a city.” It is also the largest religious building in the world -- at a staggering 11,000,000 square feet. The temple is a formidable fortress, surrounded by a 623-foot-wide moat and an outer wall measuring over 3,300 feet by 2,600 feet tall. Inscriptions inside the temple suggest that its construction took 300,000 workers and 6,000 elephants. 960 1280

Robin Bennefield  

Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm

While some temples at Angkor Wat are almost perfectly preserved, others have been taken over by Mother Nature -- like Ta Prohm, making it one of the most hauntingly beautiful of all the temples. Tree roots and toppled stones intermingle at this site, which was once a Buddhist temple dedicated to a Khmer king’s mother. 960 1280

Robin Bennefield  

Lara Croft Was Here

Lara Croft Was Here

Ta Prohm is also one of the most popular temples at Angkor Wat because of its star turn in the movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, starring Angelina Jolie. Crowds gather to take photos in front of the “Tomb Raider tree,” on the very spot where Lara Croft picks a flower before dramatically falling through the earth. 960 1280

Robin Bennefield  

Angkor Thom South Gate

Angkor Thom South Gate

The Angkor Thom South Gate is a popular tourist entrance on the way to see some of Angkor’s most important temple sites and monuments, including the magnificent multifaceted Bayon temple and the Terrace of Elephants. 960 1280

Robin Bennefield  

Thommanon

Thommanon

Thommanon is one of the smaller temples within the gates of Angkor Thom. Built in the mid-12th century and dedicated to the Hindu gods Shiva and Vishnu, it is almost a perfect match with the neighboring temple Chau Say Tevoda. 960 1280

Robin Bennefield  

Cambodia’s Cultural Pride

Cambodia’s Cultural Pride

According to UNESCO, Angkor Wat is one of the most important archeological sites in Southeast Asia, providing a lasting example of a powerful Khmer civilization and its cultural, religious and symbolic significance. For Cambodians, Angkor Wat still holds as much cultural pride as it must have during the height of the Khmer Empire, from the 9th through the 15th century. 960 1280

Robin Bennefield  

Tribute to Vishnu

Tribute to Vishnu

The Khmer King Suryavarman II identified with the Hindu god Vishnu and built the Angkor Wat temple city as a glorious tribute to him. This statue of Vishnu found in the southern tower of the temple has 8 arms instead of 4 to better protect the universe. The city itself is an earthly replica of heaven according to the Hindu faith; it could also have been built to be the king’s final resting place. 960 1280

Robin Bennefield  

Blessings to Buddha

Blessings to Buddha

While the temples of Angkor were originally built to worship Hindu gods, Buddhas were later added as Buddhism became the popular religion. Buddhist monks and worshippers visit the temples today to light incense and offer blessings to these Buddha replicas. 960 1280

Robin Bennefield  

Chau Say Tevoda

Chau Say Tevoda

The same king who designed the main Angkor Wat temple also designed Chau Say Tevoda, located within the walls of Angkor Thom a few miles away. It is almost symmetrical with the Thommanon Temple just across the road. 960 1280

Robin Bennefield  

Angkor’s Enigmatic Faces

Angkor’s Enigmatic Faces

These gigantic, enigmatic faces greet Angkor visitors atop the Angkor Thom South Gate; they also seem to multiply atop the 37 remaining towers of the Bayon temple nearby, with each tower featuring 4 faces for a total of 148 looming visages staring out over a vast, ancient Khmer empire. 960 1280

Robin Bennefield  

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