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There are 29 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Russia. There are 18 cultural sites and 11 natural sites that make up this list. Meanwhile, Russia also has 24 more properties under the tentative list.
Map of Russia’s World Heritage Sites
Architectural Ensemble of the Trinity Sergius Lavra in Sergiev Posad (1993)
This is the first cultural site in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Russia. This architectural ensemble is the best example of a working Orthodox monastery. This monastery is equipped with military elements that are typical with structures built during the 15th to 18th centuries (which was also the same time when this architectural ensemble was built). The Cathedral of the Assumption is the main church in Lavra and this is where the tomb of Boris Godunov is housed. Another famous icon in Lavra is Andrei Rublev’s The Trinity.
Bolgar Historical and Archaeological Complex (2014)
The Bolgar Historical and Archaeological Complex is another cultural site in Russia. It is located along the shores of Volga River. This property is noted for its cultural significance since this is where you will find evidence and ruins of the medieval city of Bolgar, which flourished during the 7th to 15th centuries. It was also the site of the early settlement of the Volga-Bolgars. This city is not just important for Russia but also the rest of Eurasia as it serves as a witness to the various cultural exchanges that took place in this city for many centuries.
Central Sikhote-Alin (2001)
This natural site is the first of this category in this list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Russia. The Sikhote-Alin mountain range is priced for its unusual temperate forest features and rich biodiversity. One of the most distinctive features of the forest, which helped earn its natural heritage status from UNESCO is the fact that the northern and southern species co-habit with each other in one forest. The mountain range stretches from the Sikhote-Alin peaks and ends in the Sea of Japan. It also serves as an important habitat for the endangered Amur tiger species.
Church of the Ascension, Kolomenskoye (1994)
This 16th-century church was built to commemorate the birth of the would-be Tsar Ivan IV. This is an important site for cultural heritage in Russia since it provides a glimpse into the architecture during the earlier times. This is the first few examples of the traditional wooden tent-roofed church made from brick and stone. This structure had a huge influence on how the Russian ecclesiastical architecture in the years to come would be like.
Citadel, Ancient City and Fortress Buildings of Derbent (2003)
This fortress and citadel and other related structures that were built in the city of Dagestan, Russia, is an important cultural site in the country. It was part of the strategic defense system of the city since it was built in the 5th century. Made completely out of stone, the Citadel, Ancient City and Fortress Buildings of Derbent feature two parallel walls that serve as a barrier from the seashore to the mountain area. In between these two walls is the town of Derbent, which has managed to retain its medieval fabric until today.
Cultural and Historic Ensemble of the Solovetsky Islands (1992)
The Solovetsky Islands is located in the western part of the White Sea. It is made up of six islands and covers up to 300 square kilometers of surface area. These islands have a history of human settlement since the 5th century BC with some evidence pointing to human contact to as far back as the 5th millennium BC. But it was not until the 15th century when it became a center of monastic activity. From the 16th to the 19th century, there were several churches built on these islands.
Curonian Spit (2000)
Inscribed in 2000, the Curonian Spit is another cultural site in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Russia. This elongated sand dune peninsula has a history of habitation that dates back to the prehistoric times. Throughout its history, the peninsula underwent major threats from winds and waves to extinction. But the ceaseless human effort to combat the erosion that is looming at the Spit has enabled its survival until today. This is one of the best examples as to how humans have struggled with restoration and stabilization in their natural environment in order to provide a place to settle.
Ensemble of the Ferapontov Monastery (2000)
This cultural property is centered around the Russian-Orthodox monastic complex that was built in the 15th to 17th centuries. The interior of the monastery is deemed as one of the best examples of Russian medieval art. Meanwhile, there are six major structures that are considered part of this monastic ensemble: The Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin, The Church of the Annunciation and refectory, The Treasury Chamber, The Church of St Martinian, The Gate Churches of the Epiphany and St Ferrapont, and The bell-tower.
Ensemble of the Novodevichy Convent (2004)
This cultural site was named as a UNESCO site in 2004. It is located in south-western Moscow and was constructed sometime in the 16th or 17th century. The convent features the Moscow Baroque style of architecture and is just one component of a chain of ensembles that was built in the city in order to serve as its defense system. The convent was of cultural value to Russia since it had associations with the political, religious and cultural history of Russia. In addition, it is also linked to the Moscow Kremlin.
There are plenty of uses for the monastic ensemble at Novodevichy, specifically by the aristocracy. In fact, many of the family members of Tsar are buried in its cemetery. The convent is also considered an example of Russian architecture.
Golden Mountains of Altai (1998)
This is another natural site in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Russia. It was inscribed into the list in 1998, which encompasses the Altai mountains in southern Siberia. This mountain range is considered of high significance in the region as it is a crucial source for two major river systems in Siberia: Irtysh and Ob. Aside from the mountain range, there are also surrounding areas near the mountains that are included in the world heritage property that brings the total property covered to over 1.6 million hectares. The region near and within the mountain range also feature the most abundant altitudinal vegetation zones in the region of Siberia. Meanwhile, it serves as an important natural habitat for wildlife species, including a few endangered ones.
Historic and Architectural Complex of the Kazan Kremlin (2000)
This 16th century historical and architectural complex was built on an ancient site. Its history can be traced back to the Muslim period of the Kazan Khanate and the Golden Horde. In 1552, the site was conquered by Ivan the Terrible and was converted into the Christian Sea of the Volga Land. This is the only Tatar fortress in Russia to have survived and is still being used as a place of pilgrimage. The Kazan Kremlin is made up of several historical buildings that were constructed from the 16th to the 19th centuries. In fact, some of the remaining structures are ruins from those that were built earlier than that.
Saint Petersburg in Russia is dubbed as the “Venice of the North”. This cultural site is one of the most notable UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Russia. It is likened to Venice due to its numerous canals and bridges (there are about 400 of them!). It was established under the rule of Peter the Great in 1703 wherein he developed an urban project to build all of these structures. The architectural heritage of Saint Petersburg combines the Baroque style with neoclassical architectural principles. Some of the most notable architectural features in the city include the Hermitage, Winter Palace, Admiralty, and the Marble Palace.
Historic Monuments of Novgorod and Surroundings (1992)
The city of Novgorod was the first Russian capital in the 9th century. This was partly due to the fact that the city’s location placed it right in the midst of the ancient Silk Road route between Central Asia and Northern Europe. The city also served as the center of Orthodox spirituality and is evidenced by the fact that it has many churches and monasteries. Meanwhile, there are also plenty of medieval monuments throughout the city of Novgorod, which includes the 14th-century frescoes of Theophanes the Greek. These monuments showcase how the architectural and cultural creativity of Russia developed over several centuries.
Historic Center of the City of Yaroslavl (2005)
The city of Yaroslavi in Russia is located at the confluence of two rivers: Volga and Kotorosl. It is located north-east of Moscow and an important cultural site in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Russia. The historic center was a commercial center during the 11th century. Meanwhile, it is also home to many historical structures such as 17th century churches and other buildings that feature a neoclassical style. These structures follow the radial urban master plan, of which has been preserved since the 16th century. Another distinctive feature in the historic center is the Spassky Monastery that was built on a pagan temple site in the end of the 12th century.
Kizhi Pogost (1990)
The Kizhi Pogost is situated in one of the many islands in Lake Onega. There are plenty of attractions in this area, which consist of a couple of 18th-century wooden churches, late 19th century wooden octagonal clock tower and other unusual constructions. These structures reflected the bold visionary architecture that were prevalent in the region at that time. All of these structures, while perpetuating a new approach to architecture, were built in harmony with the surrounding landscape.
Kremlin and Red Square, Moscow (1990)
The Moscow Kremlin is an important cultural site in Russia due to its cultural and political ties with Russian history since the 13th century. The Moscow Kremlin was the residence of the Great Prince of Russia. It was built with the collaborative effort of the top Russian and foreign architects. Meanwhile, it is also an important religious center in Russia, especially in Moscow. Within the Red Square, you will find St. Basil’s Basilica.
Lake Baikal (1996)
This particular entry into the list of natural UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Russia was added to the list in 1996. This 3.15-million hectare lake is the world’s oldest and deepest lake with a depth of about 1,700 meters. Meanwhile, it has been around for 25 million years! The lake is also home to 20% of the world’s unfrozen freshwater reserve. Due to the isolation and age of the lake, it has been the center of the study of evolutionary science as it is home to unusual freshwater faunas.
Lena Pillars Nature Park (2012)
Another natural world heritage site, this natural park is home to spectacular rock pillars that rise up to 100 meters in height along the banks of Lena River. The extreme continental climate is largely responsible to these unique formations. In addition to the unique geological activity, the site is valued for its collection of Cambrian fossil remains from various unique species.
Nature System of Wrangel Island Reserve (2004)
In 2004, the Nature System of Wrangle Island Reserve was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Russia. This reserve is located above the Arctic Circle and is composed of three main features: the Herald Island, the mountainous Wrangel Island, and the surrounding waters of both islands.
Since the island is not glaciated, it produced a high level of biodiversity. In fact, it has a dense population of Pacific walrus and has the highest collection of ancestral polar bear dens. In addition, endangered or endemic species of birds and vascular plants can also be found in the reserve.
Putorana Plateau (2010)
Located above the Arctic Circle, Putorana Plateau is a naturally significant property in Russia. Part of the plateau that was listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site is home to arctic and subarctic ecosystems. These ecosystems range from an isolated mountain range, tundra and arctic desert, forest tundra, cold water lakes and rivers, and pristine taiga.
Struve Geodetic Arc (2005)
This transnational property is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Russia, which spans 10 countries from Norway to the Black Sea. The Struve Geodetic Arc measures over 2,820 kilometers in length. It is a chain of survey triangulations that were carried out during the late 19th century. This survey aimed to measure the exact size and shape of the planet. Hence, this was an important step in topographic mapping and earth sciences. This project was spearheaded by astronomer Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve, to which the property was named after.
Uvs Nuur Basin (2003)
This nearly 1.1 million hectare property is another entry into the list of natural sites by UNESCO in Russia. This property represents the northernmost basin in Central Asia. The name of the basin is derived from Uvs Nuur Lake, which is a shallow but very saline lake. This lake serves as an important purpose for the migratory birds, seabirds and waterfowls in the region. It consists of 12 protected areas that is also equivalent to the major biomes of the Eastern Eurasia region.
Virgin Komi Forests (1995)
This 2.38 million hectare forest is one of the natural sites in Russia as recognized by UNESCO for its heritage world significance. This forest represents the most extensive virgin boreal forest in Europe. This forest is home to various fauna species including conifers, birches, peat bogs, aspens, rivers, and lakes. These natural features have been studied in the past five decades in an effort to study the natural processes that the biodiversity in the forest goes through.
Volcanoes of Kamchatka (1996)
This volcanic region is one of the most unique in the world. It is also one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Russia listed under the Natural category. Not only is it home to the highest collection of active volcanoes in one region, but it also consists of a variety of types of volcanoes. There are six sites in total that are part of this serial designation group and all of them are part of the Kamchatka peninsula. The combination of active volcanoes with glacier formations produce a dynamic landscape that exemplifies the natural beauty of the land.
Western Caucasus (1999)
The Western Caucasus is a natural site that encompasses the extreme west end of the Caucasus mountains in Russia. This is a rare mountain area in the fact that it has had very little human contact and is therefore well-preserved. The mountain region is comprised of alpine and subalpine pastures. These pastures are inhabited only by wild animals and showcase a wide range of diversity in the ecosystem. Meanwhile, it is also home to many endemic wildlife and plant species.
White Monuments of Vlamidir and Suzdal (1992)
To complete this list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Russia, the White Monuments of Vlamidir and Suzdal is an important cultural emblem in the country. These two artistic centers are located in central Russia. These artistic centers also represent the architectural history of Russia. Therefore, you will find plenty of public and religious buildings that were built from the 12th and 13th centuries.
Assumption Cathedral and Monastery of the town-island of Sviyazhsk (2017)
The Assumption Cathedral and Monastery of the town-island of Sviyazhsk is the newest addition to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Russia. This Russian Orthodox cathedral is known for its cycle of murals that were created during the 16th century. These murals hold symbolic significance. The entire town of Sviyazhsk was founded by Ivan the Terrible that was originally located on a peninsula but was converted into an island after the building of a reservoir during the 1950s. Meanwhile, the monastery is the other half of this UNESCO site that is considered as the most significant centers for the Orthodox believers and was critical in the spread of Christianity.
Landscapes of Dauria (2017)
The Landscapes of Duria is a UNESCO site shared by Russia and Mongolia. This natural property was recently inscribed by UNESCO and showcases the outstanding quality of the Daurian Steppe eco-region. This region begins in the eastern side of Mongolia and extends toward Russian Siberia. This landscape is most notable for its cyclical climate changes that go from dry to wet. At the same time, it is home to a diverse ecosystem and wildlife species that are considered of global importance. The unique ecosystem provides a natural habitat for rare fauna species like the Great bustard and White-naped Crane. It serves as a critical migration path for birds and the Mongolian gazelle.
Churches of the Pskov School of Architecture (2019)
Churches, cathedrals, monasteries, fortification towers, and administrative buildings make up the site, a group of monuments located in the historic city of Pskov, on the banks of the Velikaya River in the northwest of Russia. Characteristics of these buildings, produced by the Pskov School of Architecture, include cubic volumes, domes, porches, and belfries, with the oldest elements dating back to the 12th century. Churches and cathedrals are integrated into the natural environment through gardens, perimeter walls, and fences. Inspired by the Byzantine and Novgorod traditions, the Pskov School of Architecture reached its peak in the 15th and 16th centuries and was one of the foremost schools in the country. It informed the evolution of Russian architecture over five centuries.