Your tour of Russia will take you to the largest country in the world, covering more than one-eighth of its entire inhabited area. But Russia, land of powerful Tsars and warlike Cossacks, also has one of its most turbulent histories. By the 18th century it had expanded through conquest and annexation to become a true world power and the third largest empire ever. Russia’s territorial control, under Peter the Great and then Catherine the Great, stretched all the way from Poland and Finland to the Crimea, Alaska and even settlements in California. The rise of socialist movements in the late 19th century ushered in a very different era, with revolutions
leading to the creation of the Soviet Union under Stalin as the world's first socialist state - a time of harsh state policies and large scale industrialisation together with bitter political divisions, mass deportations and penal labour camps. This fascinating past of so many extremes, the echoes of which continue even today, will come to life on this insightful tour of Russia. Nowhere will this sense of history feel more overpowering than in Moscow as your Russia tour takes you to Red Square, to the awe-inspiring Kremlin complex – once the world’s largest medieval fortress – to the Bolshoi Theatre, to the 16th century Novodevichy Convent and cemetery where Chekhov, Prokofiev, Khrushchev and Yeltsin all lay buried, and to
the city’s famous iconic metro stations with their marble walls, glittering chandeliers and grand halls. St Petersburg, founded by Peter the Great in 1703 as its imperial capital, is another highlight of your tour in Russia. You’ll see for yourself the splendour of imperial buildings such as the Peter and Paul Fortress, hub of military power and infamous prison, and the Hermitage – the Tsars’ winter palace. You’ll marvel at the golden dome of St Isaac’s Cathedral and the richly decorated towers of the Church of the Holy Blood. You’ll also explore Peterhof, summer home of the Tsars, with its lavish palaces, beautifully landscaped gardens and amazing “grand cascade” of 176 fountains.