Defender of the Fatherland Day: A Moscow tour guide for real men

February 21, 2013 Roman Kiselev, RBTH
Feb. 23 is traditionally observed around Russia by men of all ages. This day commemorates the creation of the Soviet Army. Moscow, with its many shooting ranges and nearby airfields, is an ideal place for the celebration of the holiday.
The flight in the stratosphere in Moscow. It lasts between three and five minutes before the MiG-29 descends to showcase advanced aerobatic maneuvers to the lucky tourist. Source: Getty Images/Photobank
The flight in the stratosphere in Moscow. It lasts between three and five minutes before the MiG-29 descends to showcase advanced aerobatic maneuvers to the lucky tourist. Source: Getty Images/Photobank

Feb. 23 is traditionally observed around Russia by men of all ages. The holiday, known as Defender of the Fatherland Day, commemorates the creation of the Soviet Army. Foreigners can also join Russian men and celebrate it. Moscow, with its many shooting ranges and nearby airfields, is an ideal place for it.

Defender of the Fatherland Day: History

On Feb. 23 Russia will celebrate Defender of the Fatherland Day.This holiday was introduced in the Soviet Union as Red Army and Navy Day in 1922, and was then renamed Defender of the Fatherland Day in 1995. Currently, Feb. 23 is an informal holiday for men, celebrated in homes and offices.

Usually women give presents to their fathers, husbands, sons and colleagues.

The Russian capital, with its many shooting ranges and nearby airfields, is an ideal place to celebrate this informal holiday that honors the nation’s men.

1. Fly to the stratosphere and witness MiG-29 aerobatics

Fly to the stratosphere at an altitude of 12.4–13.6 miles in a MiG-29 jet fighter, and watch an aerobatics display after you descend back to Earth.

Source: Youtube /bestrussiantour.com

The journey takes between three and four hours. You will get the chance to look out at the curvature of the Earth, the impossibly bright sun and the unusually black sky as the aircraft ascends at supersonic speed. The flight in the stratosphere lasts between three and five minutes before the MiG-29 descends to showcase advanced aerobatic maneuvers to the lucky tourist.

Price €15,750 ($21,000)

For more information visit the website

2) Tank safari

The childhood dreams of so many men can come true, when they are given the chance to ride the legendary World War II T-34 tank. Source: Lori/Legion Media

The picturesque village of Kubinka in Odintsovo District, just 39.7 miles outside of Moscow, is home to the unique Museum of Armored Vehicles.

The museum has been amassing the country’s largest collection of armored vehicles (with more than 300) since 1931.

Source: Youtube

It is here that the childhood dreams of so many men can come true, when they are given the chance to ride the legendary World War II T-34 tank.

A ride in the T-34 with a crew takes four hours, during which time you will be able to go through an obstacle course and even fire a few shots from the tank’s gun.

Kubinka, Odintsovo District, Moscow Region

Price: €1,750 ($2,340)

For more information visit the websites of Tank Safari and of Tank Museum

3) Cold War bunker

Be prepared to use your legs: the Cold War bunker is 196 feet below the surface, and the total area of the underground labyrinth is around 75,000 square feet. Source: ITAR-TASS

Walking tours around the Cold War bunker take one-and-a-half hours. Be prepared to use your legs: the bunker is 196 feet below the surface, and the total area of the underground labyrinth is around 75,000 square feet.

During the tour, you can try on a splash suit or an operator’s uniform, learn how the staff of the bunker used to live and work, and observe the unique architecture of this construction. The bunker remains protected against nuclear explosion.

Source: Youtube / Narod2.ru

11 5th Kotelnichesky Lane, Moscow

Price: €19 ($25)

For more information visit the website.

4) Central Museum of the Air Force

How to get there:

Take the train from Yaroslavl Station to Monino Station for €2.50 ($3.3).

The museum is located inside a military base, so the best advice is to arrange a visit and get a pass for your vehicle beforehand. Source: Lori/Legion Media

Take bus № 322 Moscow–Noginsk from the Izmailovsky Park metro station to Gagarin Air Force Academy, or take Avtoline bus № 362 from the bus station (Shchelkovskaya metro station) to the terminal.

Source: Youtube / Danila Smit

You will need a lot of energy to make it all the way around the world’s largest aviation museum. The exhibition halls alone are 59,000 square feet, and the outdoor exhibits cover another 49 acres. The museum houses collections of airplanes, helicopters, arms and life-saving equipment dating all the way back to 1909.

There are numerous model aircraft around the halls, as well as unique photos and other documents. The museum is located inside a military base, so the best advice is to arrange a visit and get a pass for your vehicle beforehand.

Air Force Museum, Monino, Moscow Region

For more information visit the website.

Price: €1.5 ($2) admission, €2 ($2.7) photography

5) Poklonnaya Hill and Victory Park

Aircraft exhibition on Poklonnaya Hill honours heroes of World War II. Source: Lori/Legion Media

Feb. 23 on Poklonnaya Hill in Moscow traditionally involves jousting battles, walking tours and stories about the heroes of World War II. From here, visitors can watch the most scenic of the 30 firework parades that take place in difference areas of Moscow on Defender of the Fatherland Day.

Free of charge

For more information visit the website.


Map of Feb. 23 fireworks

The fireworks display will start at 9:00 p.m. on Feb. 23, made up of 30 rounds from 72 guns at an interval of 30 seconds and lasting for 15 minutes.

View the map of the fireworks here

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