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article imagePhoto Essay: Samara, Russia Special

By Lonna Lisa Williams     Dec 21, 2013 in World
Samara - If you travel to Samara, southeast of Moscow and above Kazakhstan, you will find much beauty in historic old buildings, churches, and the Volga River.
Samara used to be a city closed to the public. During the Soviet Union days, it was a center for aeronautics and space technology. Before that, Stalin had a secret, underground bunker there. Today it is an open city, and you can visit the "Freedom Statue" that celebrates Samara's legacy of flight. You can also visit a museum that features highlights from Russia's space program, including displays about Yuri Gagarin, the first astronaut, into orbit.
You can find beautiful old buildings in Samara. Wooden apartments from the 16th century mix with ornate stone music halls and churches from the 19th century and 20th-century block-styled Soviet structures. Modern shopping malls often stand near statues of Lenin or a medieval knight. Churches are abundant in Samara, especially Russian Orthodox cathedrals and monasteries. Parks are everywhere, and in the winter you can find outdoor skating rinks, ice gardens, and giant Christmas trees.
Situated on the Volga River, Europe's longest, Samara offers picturesque views during all four seasons. In winter, the Volga River freezes so solid that you can drive a truck across it. People often walk, ski, or ride a snow mobile for one mile over thick ice to the far bank — and back again. Wedding photos are often taken by its graceful banks, and you can wander for miles along the stone river walk that is lit by street lamps and the chandeliers of tall, stately mansions. Everywhere you can find sculptures, art museums, and shops that sell traditional, hand-painted Russian items.
The best way to get to Samara is by train from Moscow. Samara has an airport, but it's expensive to get around Russia by plane, and it's really too far to drive or take a bus. Enjoy my little tour of Samara.
The government building from the Freedom Statue hill
The government building from the Freedom Statue hill
A Russian grandmother poses with the Samara Freedom Statue
A Russian grandmother poses with the Samara Freedom Statue
The war memorial to the right of the Freedom Statue  dusted with a little snow
The war memorial to the right of the Freedom Statue, dusted with a little snow
The Russian Orthodox Church to the right of the Freedom Statue
The Russian Orthodox Church to the right of the Freedom Statue
View from Freedom Statue hill
View from Freedom Statue hill
The Soviet-style Opera House at the main Samaran Plaza
The Soviet-style Opera House at the main Samaran Plaza
A bird perches atop a snowy statue of Lenin in a Samara park
A bird perches atop a snowy statue of Lenin in a Samara park
Moon over the Samaran monastery
Moon over the Samaran monastery
Samara  Russia: The Leningratsky shopping area of downtown Samara
Samara, Russia: The Leningratsky shopping area of downtown Samara
Samara  Russia: Some of oldest buildings are wooden
Samara, Russia: Some of oldest buildings are wooden
An old courtyard in downtown Samara
An old courtyard in downtown Samara
A ship docks at the Volga River
A ship docks at the Volga River
Walking path along the Volga River
Walking path along the Volga River
A wedding party poses for photos along the Volga River
A wedding party poses for photos along the Volga River
A lone fisherman on the Volga River
A lone fisherman on the Volga River
People cross the frozen Volga River toward the buildings of downtown Samara
People cross the frozen Volga River toward the buildings of downtown Samara
People crossing the icy Volga River
People crossing the icy Volga River
A Volga River snowy sunset along the city of Samara
A Volga River snowy sunset along the city of Samara
More about samara, Russia, city streets, Historic buildings, Volga River
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