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UNESCO list of sights in Russia

The UNESCO list of Cultural Heritage currently includes 29 sites located in Russia.

•    18 of them are objects of cultural heritage: 7 of them are recognized as masterpieces of human genius - criterion i
•    11 of them are natural objects: 4 of them are recognized as a phenomenon of exceptional beauty - criterion vii

Russia ranks 9th in the total number of objects included in the UNESCO list of Cultural Heritage, and 4th in the number of natural objects in the list.

This list contains all the UNESCO Cultural Heritage sites in Russia, as well as the year of their inclusion in the list:

1. The historical center of St. Petersburg-1990.
2. The historical center of Moscow-1990
3. Kizhi Museum of Wooden Architecture-1990
4. The historical center of Veliky Novgorod – 1992
5. Solovetsky Monastery – 1992
6. Churches and monasteries of Vladimir and Suzdal – 1992
7. Trinity-Sergius Lavra – 1993
8. Church of the Ascension in Kolomenskoye-1994
9. Virgin forests of the Komi Republic-1995
10. Lake Baikal-1996
11. Volcanoes of Kamchatka-1996
12. Altai Mountains-1998
13. Caucasian Reserve-1999
14. Kazan Kremlin – 2000
15. Ferapontov Monastery-2000
16. Curonian Spit-2000
17. Sikhote-Alin Nature Reserve-2001
18. Ubsunur basin-2003
19. Narynkala and the old city of Derbent-2003
20. Wrangel Island-2004
21. Novodevichy Monastery in Moscow-2004
22. The historical center of Yaroslavl-2005
23. Struve Geodesic Arc-2005
24. The Putorana Plateau – 2010
25. Lena pillars in Yakutia-2012
26. The Old town of Bulgar in Tatarstan-2014
27. The different landscapes of Dauria - 2017
28. Sviyazhsk Island in Kazan-2017
29. Pskov Old Town – 2019
30. Petrogliphs of White sea and Onega lake

Click on the hyperlinks to read in detail about each attraction and see a large number of photos

Historical center of St. Petersburg

The city of St. Petersburg was founded by Tsar Peter I in 1703, just after the Baltic Sea coast was recaptured from Sweden during the Northern War. Since its foundation, St. Petersburg has been built as a ceremonial capital. St. Petersburg is not like any other Russian city.

The UNESCO-listed historical center of St. Petersburg is centered around the Palace Square and the Peter and Paul Fortress. In the vicinity of St. Petersburg, palaces were built, which became masterpieces of the Baroque style of architecture.

The center of St.Petersburg was included in the UNESCO List of Cultural Heritage in Russia in 1990 .

Historical center of Moscow

The city of Moscow was founded in 1147. After a period of feudal fragmentation, Moscow became the capital of Russia in the 14th century. There was built most powerful in Russia the Moscow Kremlin. An architectural ensemble was formed around it in the 15-16 centuries. Now it is included in the UNESCO Cultural Heritage List.

The main attraction of Moscow is the Moscow Kremlin. It has several cathedrals and interesting museums. Next to the Kremlin is Red Square, where the St. Basil's Cathedral was built in the 16th century. These sights are symbols of Russia.

The center of Moscow was included in the UNESCO List of Cultural Heritage in Russia in 1990 .

Kizhi Museum of Wooden Architecture - 1990

The museum of wooden architecture Kizhi is located on a small island in the north of Onega Lake. It is the world`s famous monuments of wooden architecture. You can reach it only by a ship from the city of Petrozavodsk.

Totally, there are over a thousand and five hundred islands on Onega Lake, and the Karelian chose one of them for their pagan rites (kizhat – «public merrymaking»). After the spread of the Christianity Karelian carpenters built wood churches using no nails there in the 18th century. In 1945, after a culture reserve was created on Kizhi, there were gathered a lot of wood structures, churches, houses, and mills from different regions of Russia. 

The Kizhi Museum was included in the UNESCO List of Cultural Heritage in Russia in 1990 .

The historical center of Veliky Novgorod

Veliky Novgorod was founded in 859, so you can consider it the oldest Russian city. The other date, 862 is at least as significant. This year the Varangian prince Ruyrik and his men came to the lands of Russia, married the daughter of Novgorod`s elder statesman and took the lead of Novgorod lands. This year is assumed to be the foundation date of the first Russian dynasty and Russian statehood.

There have survived a lot of ancient monuments of architecture, both within the Kremlin and beyond its walls, including the Cathedral of Sophia – the oldest stone temple on the territory of today Russia, which was built during 1045-1050. On the other bank of the river Volkhov, opposite the Kremlin, you can see not the least interesting sites – Yaroslav Dvorische (Court) and Ancient Torg (Market). Today there are 8 ancient churches and cathedrals on this small territory. 

The center of Novgorod was included in the UNESCO List of Cultural Heritage in Russia in 1992.

Solovetsky Monastery – 1992

Solovetsky Islands are in the center of the White Sea in the north of Russia. There located one of the most important spiritual centers of Russia, the patriarchal Solovetsky Monastery of the Transfiguration of Our Savior.

In the 16th century the monastery was girdled with strong walls with watch-towers made of giant stone slabs. In 1558 the 5-domed Transfiguration Cathedral was erected in the center of the monastery. The monastery wasn’t only the religious center but a fortress defending northern seaways.

After you have been to the monastery itself you should visit the Botanic Garden and the Skit of the Ascension of Our Savior on the Sekirnaya Hill. It will be very interesting to have a boat ride on the lake and canals of the island. 

The Solovetsky monastery was included in the UNESCO List of Cultural Heritage in Russia in 1992.

Churches of Vladimir and Suzdal – 1992

Suzdal and Vladimir are the main sights in Russian Golden Ring. It is one of the oldest Russian towns, founded in 1108 (40 years before Moscow). In Middle Ages, when there were many small principalities on the territory of Russia, Vladimir was the capital of the largest principality. If you go to Vladimir from Moscow you`ll first see the monument of 12 century – Golden Gate. Mandatory visiting places are Assumption Cathedral and Dmitrievsky Cathedral. Both of them were built in 12 century. For a long time the Assumption Cathedral (1158) has been the largest church of Russia.

Among the cities of the Golden Ring, Suzdal can be considered the most interesting to visit. On the small territory of Suzdal, there are five monasteries and more than 30 churches. The main sights of the city are Suzdal Kremlin, Nativity Cathedral, the Monastery of Our Saviour and St. Euphemius, Intercession Monastery, Museum of Wood Architecture, and the Square with Trading Rows. 

Vladimir and Suzdal were included in the UNESCO List of Cultural Heritage in Russia in 1992.

Trinity-Sergius Lavra – 1993

Trinity-Sergius Lavra was founded in 1337 by a monk Sergiy called Radonezhskiy, which was one of the most venerable Russian saints (together with Seraphim Sarovskiy of Diveevo Monastery).

The main church of the monastery (built in 1422), Trinity Cathedral, houses relics of Sergius Radonezhskiy. While alive he blessed Dmitry Donskoy to the Kulikovskaya Battle, and after death he was canonized as the «patron saint of Russian Land». The Cathedral is considered one of the main religious sanctuaries of Russia, as well as pilgrimage center. The largest temple of Trinity-Sergius Lavra, Assumption Cathedral, was built in the reign of Ivan the Terrible, during 1559-1585.

Trinity-Sergius was included in the UNESCO List of Cultural Heritage in Russia in 1993. 

Church of the Ascension in Kolomenskoye

The Church of the Ascension of the Lord was built in the village of Kolomenskoye near Moscow in 1528-1532 by Tsar Vasily III, in honor of the birth of his son Ivan, who later became Tsar Ivan IV the Terribleю The other buildings of the tsar`s summer residence, including the wooden palace of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich, and the Church of the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan, appeared a century later.

The height of the Ascension Church is 62 meters. It is the first tent-shaped church in Russia. Wall pillars and strong podklet (lower floor) made it possible to build a temple of unusual proportions. Actually, it is a tower church built on a grand scale. It is for its architectural features that the church was given the status of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

The Church of Ascension was included in the UNESCO List of Cultural Heritage in Russia in 1994.

Lake Baikal

Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world. Baikal is the deepest lake on the planet (1642 m.) In second place is Lake Tanganyika (Africa) at 1470 m, following which is the Caspian Sea at 945 m, and Lake Nyasa (Africa) with a depth of 706 meters.

Baikal is the largest freshwater storage in the world. The volume is 23 thousand km3. The area of Baikal is almost equal to the territory of Belgium. Its water supply is larger than all five Great Lakes combined.  Baikal is the purest freshwater reservoir. Its exclusive purity is due to billions of epischura. This small, 1.5 mm long crustacean plays an important role in the pelagic ecosystem. The epischura plays an exceptional part in Baikal`s life circle. 

Lake Baikal was included in the UNESCO List of Cultural Heritage in Russia in 1996.

Golden Mountains of Altay

"Golden Mountains of Altay" is a collective definition of the most beautiful places of the Altay Mountains, which were included in the UNESCO Cultural Heritage List in 1998. These places are part of two biosphere reserves: the Altay Reserve and the Katun Reserve, as well as tourist areas on the Ukok Plateau and Mount Belukha. 

The word "Altay" in translation from the Turkic language means "Golden Mountains". The Altay mountain system is located in the geographical center of the Eurasian continent. The central point is located near Mount Belukha, the most famous attraction of Altay. Some followers of esoteric teachings considered Mount Belukha to be the mystical center of the Earth, where the legendary country of Shambhala is located. 

Golden Mountains of altay was included in the UNESCO List of Cultural Heritage in Russia in 1998.

Caucasian Reserve

The Caucasian biosphere nature reserve is located in the Central part of the Caucasus mountain range, North of Krasnaya Polyana. Free access is closed, passes are required.  It is one of the largest mountain reserves in Europe. In Soviet times, several tourist routes were laid along the Caucasian reserve, the main ones being No. 8 and No. 30. Route 8 starts near Psebay and route 30 starts in Guzeriple.

If you start Hiking in the Caucasus nature reserve from the Northern slopes of the mountain range (from Psebay), initially the routes go along rivers, in dense forests, at an altitude not exceeding 1000 m. As the height increases, the Colchian forest is replaced by subalpine landscapes. If you follow route 8, the most beautiful places of the Caucasian reserve are located in the tourist camp area near the Pure river. It is surrounded by the mountain peaks.

The Caucasian reserve was included in the UNESCO List of Cultural Heritage in Russia in 1999.

Kazan Kremlin

The Kazan Kremlin is the main sight of Kazan. It is located on the high bank of the river Kazanka, near the place where it joins the Volga river. The main fortress of Volga Bulgaria was located just in that place. 

One can have the most beautiful view of the Kazan Kremlin from the bridge over the river Kazanka. From that place one can see all the main sights of the Kazan Kremlin: Soyembika Tower, Annunciation Cathedral and the Qolsarif Mosque. Seven-tier  Soyembika Tower used to be one of the so-called leaning towers. By the early 20th century, its inclination was estimated at about 2 meters. 

The Kazan Kremlin was included in the UNESCO List of Cultural Heritage in Russia in 2000.

Ferapontov Monastery

The small Ferapontov convent, located 130 km to the north of Vologda, is a unique monument of the Old Russian painting due to the fact that in 1502 the Nativity cathedral was painted by the famous Russian icon painter Dionysus and his apprentices.

In 1502 the most famous Russian icon painter Dionysius was invited to paint the Nativity cathedral. It took him and his apprentices only 34 days, from August, 6 to September, 8, to paint the entire church. The total area of the frescoes of Dionysius is 600 m2.

The Ferapontov monastery was included in the UNESCO List of Cultural Heritage in Russia in 2000.

Curonian Spit

Curonian Spit nature reserve is located in the northernmost part of Kaliningrad Region. Its southern part belongs to Russia, while its northern part – to Lithuania. You can see large spaces of sand dunes in three places of Curonian Spit. All of them are on the territory of Russia. And only some part of the third zone with dunes is located on the territory of Lithuania near the village of Nida.

The length of Russian Curonian Spit from Zelenogradsk to the border of Lithuania is 48 kilometers. The main attractions on the Curonian Spit: Royal Forest, Dancing Forest, Efa Dune, Muller Height, Fringilla Ornithological Center, Swan Lake.

Curonian Spit was included in the UNESCO List of Cultural Heritage in Russia in 2000.

Narynkala and the old city of Derbent

Since its foundation in the 6th century BC. , Derbent has been a fortified city. The fortress on the site of Naryn-Kala has existed since its foundation, but the citadel, erected in the 6th century AD, during the reign of the Persian Khan Khosrow I, has survived to this day.  

The old city of Derbent is located on a narrow strip between the Naryn-Kala fortress and the Caspian Sea. From the north and south, the city was protected by fortress walls built in the 6th century. This place is of strategic importance for controlling the trade route between Persia and Northern Europe. The Juma Mosque in the center of the old city of Derbent is the oldest mosque in Russia. It was built by the Arabs in 733.

Derbent was included in the UNESCO List of Cultural Heritage in Russia in 2003.

Novodevichy Monastery in Moscow

Novodevichy Holy Virgin Mary Smolensky Monastery is located in the center of Moscow.  It was closely connected with the political, cultural and religious life of Russia for 5 centuries. The monastery is one of the most beautiful monuments of the “Moscow Baroque” architectural style.

Novodevichy Monastery was built in 1524 on the bank of the Moskva River. It is dedicated to the Smolensk Icon of the Holy Virgin Mary, and was built by Prince Vasily III in honor of the return of the city of Smolensk to the Russian state in 1514. 

The Novodevichy monastery was included in the UNESCO List of Cultural Heritage in Russia in 2004.

The historical center of Yaroslavl

Yaroslavl, one of the most beautiful cities of the Golden Ring, is located on the high bank of the Volga river at its confluence with the Kotorosl river. Yaroslavl was founded by Yaroslav the Wise in 1010.  Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery was founded in 1216, and since that time it had been used as an Kremlin. 

It was just there, at the confluence (spit) of the Volga and Kotorosl, that Yaroslav the Wise laid down the city of Yaroslavl. The spit is quite suitable for promenades. It has musical fountains and the monument to the founders of the city and is always crowded by people. 

Yaroslavl was included in the UNESCO List of Cultural Heritage in Russia in 2005.

Pskov Old Town

Pskov is one of the most ancient cities in Russia. As Novgorod the Great, Pskov was a feudal republic governed by the People`s Veche. Veche was a democratic institution, the precursor of Parliament, where the issues of home and foreign policy were discussed.

Both historically and culturally Pskov is very attractive. In the center of the city there are many historic sites, which is quite reasonable considering the age of the city and its value for Russia. Moreover, there are several sites around Pskov, which are at least as interesting for visiting: Pskovo-Pechersky Monastery and Izborsk Fortress (on the way to Riga), and Pushkinskiye Gory (on the way to Moscow).

Pskov was included in the UNESCO List of Cultural Heritage in Russia in 2019.

Petroglyphs on the White Sea and Lake Onega

Petroglyphs on the White Sea are located near the village of Vyg in the suburbs of Belomorsk. This place is called Zalavruga. There is a large stone plateau rising above the marshes, where primitive people drew dozens of petroglyphs.

Scientists have analyzed the White Sea petroglyphs, and dated them to the 4th century BC (Neolithic era). In the 20th century petroglyphs were discovered in three places. The only petroglyphs available for sightseeing are in Zalavruga. There are also petroglyphs on the Belomorsk-Murmansk highway near the Belomors Canal. They are called Demon Tracks.

Petroglyphs on Lake Onega are located on the eastern shore near the village of Pudozh. The most famous petroglyphs are located at Cape Besov Nos on the rocky shore. The dimensions of some figures reach 4 meters. The most famous figures are Demon, Burbot and Otter.

The nothern petropliphs was included in the UNESCO List of Cultural Heritage in Russia in 2021.