We counted dozens of towns and cities in Russia that call themselves “Switzerland.” In some cases, this is even the official name for these places. And yes, these destinations are often compared with the Alps, but it’s not just for their landscapes.
For a long time, Gorky Park in Kazan—the capital of Tatarstan, 800 km east of Moscow—bore the official name “Switzerland.” There used to be a wonderful linden grove that led to the Arsky woods here. In the 19th century, when the city was growing quickly, locals began to build dachas, gardens
This was a popular place for locals to spend their vacations and celebrate holidays. In Soviet times, this park was named after the Soviet writer Maxim Gorky—who himself was quite fond of Kazan.
The ancient merchant town of Yefremov (320 km south of Moscow) in the Tula Region was a favorite place for the great Russian writers, including Ivan Turgenev, Leo Tolstoy, and Ivan Bunin. They were all won over by charming views of the great meadowy hills and the twisting Krasivaya Mecha River, which locals refer to as “Switzerland.” In Soviet times, the town was the center of the chemical industry, but since the fall of the
The Moscow Region has lots of picturesque landscapes, but it’s the town of Zvenigorod that is most often called “Switzerland.” There are no mountains, but the scenery includes some unusual hills that do, in fact, recall the wavy plateaus of Alpine valleys. The main attraction in Zvenigorod is the medieval Savva-Storozhevsky Monastery.
It would be surprising if no ski resorts were on the list of "Russian Switzerlands." The village of Krasnaya Polyana, just outside of Sochi, has some of the best ski slopes in Russia. And Krasnaya Polyana does have a lot in common with Switzerland, both in terms of its mountainous landscape and the highly developed recreational infrastructure. If you’re here and start to miss the summer, just take a short ride down the cable car and you can take a swim in the Black Sea.
Russia’s south, in the Volgograd Region (1,000 km south of Moscow), has its own Switzerland too. Volga Switzerland is the famous title of the Scherbakovsky National Park. Here, Russian birches stand proudly next to mountain waterfalls, while steep green slopes segue into bottomless gorges. This area was settled by Germans, who moved here at the invitation of Catherine the Great but were later were deported under Stalin. However, the old foundations of their houses are still preserved and are now popular tourist sites.
Visit the Altai Mountains, and you’ll fall in love with Siberia.
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