3 Mysterious Places to Discover in Russia

It’s not all about Red Square and churches in Russia, and there are a few unusual things to seek out while traveling in this fascinating country.


Photo © iStock.com/vladj55

Golosov Ravine

Take the Line 2 metro from Novokuznetskaya in Moscow to Kolomenskaya stop, and after a short walk alongside the lush woodlands of Kolomenskoye Park, you’ll find yourself face-to-face with the infamous Golosov Ravine. And, if you’re lucky, on a short trip through time.

According to Russian folklore, Golosov Ravine is a playground for mythical creatures and tales of time travel date back to 1621.

The story goes that a band of Tatar cavalrymen turned up at the walls of the Tsar’s palace, lost, confused and disorientated, claiming to be a detachment of the army of a Crimean khan from 1571.

Predicting a defeat in the battle they were fighting, they retreated into the ravine where they were enveloped in a thick green mist. After what seemed to them to be only a few minutes, they emerged 50 years later, to the surprise of the Tsar and his men.

An investigation noted the outdated equipment they were carrying and concluded the men were telling the truth. Subsequent time travel tales have followed and looking out over the green depths of the Golosov Ravine, it’s easy to agree with the Tsar's men. 

Snow-covered bridge in a Moscow ravine. Photo credit: iStock.com/possum1961

Bolshoi Zayatsky Island

In the north of Russia, in the White Sea, near Finland, is the mysterious little island of Bolshoi Zayatsky. Less than two square kilometers in size,  Bolshoi Zayatsky is home to 35 Neolithic labyrinths, known as Bablyons.

No one how these intricate and ornate labyrinths exist, but the prevailing opinion of local archaeologists is that the detailed maze formations serve as a doorway between this world and the next, for the souls of the deceased Sami people native to the region to move through as they make their way to the afterlife.

It’s easiest to reach the islands by plane from either Moscow or St Petersburg. It’s well worth the journey for the chance to experience the feeling of being in another world.

Bolshoi Zayatsky Island. Photo credit: iStock.com/Mikhail Akkuratov

Izmailovo Kremlin

The Red Square Kremlin is to Moscow what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris. But there is a second, lesser-known Kremlin in the northeast of the capital.

The Izmailovo Kremlin was finished in 2007 and serves as a cultural center and marketplace for the city of Moscow. The style was based on traditional Russian architecture and fairytale depictions of old Russia and its beautifully ornate and colorful facade will have you falling in love almost instantly.

Next door is the famous Izamailovo Market, dating back to the 17th century, connected to the Kremlin by a quaint wooden bridge. A 10-minute walk from the Partizanskaya metro station, the ‘other’ Kremlin is easy to access, much less crowded and a much nicer place to be.

Kremlin in Izmailovo, Moscow. Photo credit: iStock.com/Tycson1

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  • Margarita R Comiskey said

    Thank you for your notes on what to do in Russia.
    My husband and I are planning a trip to the Mother Russia...Moscow and St. Petersburg in May. We will spend 5 days in Moscow and 5 in St. Petersburg. Could you help me to outline a plan for each city, knowing that we cannot see everything in such a short time.
    Thank you very much!

  • Sofia said


    Let me know if you are still interested in getting some help. SPb is my home city. I can provide you with some tips.

  • lee jacobs said

    Hi Sofia,
    We'll be in SPb in July during the World Cup which was the only time we could go. Any suggestions for dealing with the extra amount of visitors?

  • Anna said

    Margarita, Tsarytsino is another place worth a visit in the heart of Moscow. There's an interesting collection of xvii century clothes and attire, among other things: the park and palace which was built for Catherine the II. Abandoned since then, it has been recently restored and opened to the public.

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