Important Cats: In 1745, Empress Elizabeth, the daughter of Peter the Great, ordered cats to be housed at The Hermitage Museum to protect its vast collection of treasures from mice. On average, 60 to 80 felines lived on the museum grounds, thereby ensuring the safekeeping of one of the world's most precious art collections from pesky rodents. Thanks to Empress Elizabeth's ingenuity, The Hermitage Museum is still home to Egyptian carvings, Impressionist masterpieces, and many other marvels. The Hermitage Museum located in St. Petersburg, is one of the most visited places in Russia. It is the second largest art museum in the world. In 2013, there were 74 cats residing at the museum, roaming its 14 miles of marbled corridors on the lookout for mice. The cats have their own kitchen, a small hospital, and a staff of volunteers to take care of them. Each cat has a personal passport with a photograph. If you spent two minutes looking at each exhibit in the museum, it would take you approximately six years to see everything.
Metro: Moscow's metro system is the fastest means of transport. During rush hour, trains are scheduled every 90 seconds. Approximately nine million passengers ride the Metro each day. The Metro of St. Petersburg is the deepest subway in the world, at 100m deep.
Smart Dogs: Moscow is famous for its subway-riding dogs. Each day they navigate and ride the subway without human assistance. They know where to get on and off to find food. Moscow is home to more than 35,000 stray dogs, but only about two dozen have mastered this mode of transportation in an effort to survive. They respond to human signals and receive attention and positive reinforcement from people. They distinguish different stations by smell and know which stops are most associated with receiving food.
The Trans-Siberian Railroad was built between 1891 and 1916. It is the longest and busied in the world. It spans almost all the way across the county. The 9200-kilometer (5700 mile) railway departs in Moscow (located in European Russia) and crosses into Asia. It then makes its way to the Pacific Ocean port of Vladivostok where it reaches the end of its journey. The Trans-Siberian Railway crosses eight time zones, goes through 87 cities and towns, and crosses 16 rivers including the Volga. The Guinness Book of World Records recognizes it as the longest single railway in the world. The entire journey non-stop takes 152 hours and 27 minutes. To travel the whole railroad, you would need to spend approximately a week in a train.
The name of Russia's famous Red Square has nothing to do with communism. It comes from the word krasnyi that originally meant beautiful.
Russian Dolls: The famous Russian wooden doll has a link to Japan. Russian artist Sergey Malyutin was working on a design for a Russian wooden doll, and was gifted a Japanese daruma doll, which had other dolls hidden inside. The first-ever Russian matryoshka wooden doll consisted of eight dolls. Wooden doll master Zvyozdochkin, who used Malyutin's drawings, made it in the 1890s.
Basketball, ice hockey, and football (soccer) are popular sports in Russia.
There are many traditional folk dances in Russia. Khorovod, Karelian, Tatar, and Chechotka are some of the most famous traditional Russian dances.
One of the most notable things about Russia is that it has been home to numerous extraordinary painters, dancers, musicians, writers, and other creative artists.
Russian literature is world-famous. Leo Tolstoy, Fjodor Dostojevskij, Aleksandr Pushkin, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Vladimir Nabokov, and Anton Chekhov are some of the most famous Russian authors. Some of the most famous Russian books include War and Peace, The Brothers Karamazov, Crime and Punishment, Eugene Onegin, and The Cherry Orchard.
Under the Soviet Union, the government forbade the distribution of Beatles albums. Some medical students would burn Beatles songs onto old X-rays.
In 1939, Winston Churchill famously remarked that Russia was "a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma."
Russians eat pancakes with sour cream and caviar.
Russian food culture includes a lot of soups, beets, cabbages, potatoes, and meat dishes.
Borscht is a popular Russian beet soup. Some Russian restaurants have stopped using the word "borscht" - instead opting to say "beetroot soup" because the word "borscht" is Ukrainian.
Aspic is a popular dish in Russia. It contains meat, eggs, and vegetables in a salted gelatin.
A popular Russian meal, holodets, contains meat suspended in salted gelatin.
Russian cuisines include cow tongue, Siberian meat dumplings, and fried meat patties.
Until 2013 any alcoholic beverage under ten percent sold in Russia was not considered alcoholic. Beer sales dominated vodka sales in the decade leading to 2013. Since then, beer cannot be sold from unlicensed kiosks and shops.
Vodka comes from the word voda, which means, water. Vodka is not the most popular drink in Russia, tea is. Russians drink approximately six times more tea per year than Americans.
In Russia bejeweled golden Easter eggs can be priceless. The famous Fabergé Egg collection of the Imperial Russian Family once consisted of 50 eggs of which 43 are known to survive today. Each egg, intricately designed between 1885 and 1916 by the Fabergé Company, was passed from Tsar to Tsarina as valuable gifts of affection. Gold, enamel, and precious stones were used to craft each opulent egg. Emperor Alexander III commissioned the first imperial egg in 1885 for his wife, Empress Maria Feodorovna. It had an enamel shell and a golden yolk that held a pendant and a miniature crown. These eggs are so rare today that they are valued at millions of dollars each.
Smiling is a polite courtesy in many cultures, but that is not always true in Russia. There is an ancient Russian expression that translates to: Laughing for no reason is a sign of stupidity. On the other hand, some people say Russians are stereotyped for being stern and unsmiling people. Russian smiles mean different things in different situations.
Russia's capital, Moscow, has more billionaires than any other city in the world, totaling 74, with the majority of their fortunes coming from real estate, steel, oil, and banking. In 2019, these men were worth $421 billion dollars combined. They have 89 percent of Russia's wealth. Russian President, Vladimir Putin, is a part of the wealthy few.
The per capita income in Russia is approximately $14,000.
Since 2013 same-sex relationships are not socially acceptable and are labeled illegal under Russian law.
A Russian peasant woman retains the world record for giving birth to 69 children. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, a Mrs. Vassilyev (1707-1782) gave birth to sixteen sets of twins, seven sets of triplets, and four sets of quadruplets. Most of the children did not survive infancy.
The radiation emanating from Russia's Lake Karachay would kill a person in approximately one hour. Lake Karachay, in the southern Ural Mountains in eastern Russia, was used as a dumping ground for radioactive waste for years. It is possibly the most polluted place on earth.
Russian scientists brought a plant back to life that became extinct 32,000 years ago. The fruit of a tiny arctic flower, the narrow-leafed campion, was stored in the burrow of an arctic ground squirrel, and lay frozen in the Siberian tundra until a recent excavation. Scientists thawed cells from the placenta (the part of the fruit that produces seeds) and grew them into whole plants.
In 1961 Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was the first human in space, he orbited the earth in a 108-minute flight.
In Russia, there are 1,159 women for every 1,000 men. In urban areas there are 1,183 women per 1,000 men. There are approximately ten million more women in Russia than there are men. The imbalance was initially believed to be the result of so many men dying during World War II.
Legend claims that Russians chose Christianity over Islam in 988 AD, in part, because they didn't want to give up alcohol.
The village of Suzdal is only 15 square kilometers but it has 53 churches. Even though the population is over 10,000, it retains its small village feel and charm. There is a beautiful combination of Russian architecture and farmland.
St. Petersburg has three times as many bridges as Venice. Many cities: Bruges, Amsterdam, and Hamburg, to name a few, are called the Venice of the North. St. Petersburg is on that list.
Russia has the largest McDonald's restaurant in the world, with 700 seats. A larger building, seating 1,500, was constructed for the 2012 Olympics in London, England but it was a temporary location and was disassembled after the Olympics.
Many Russians wear their wedding rings on the ring finger of their right hand. Austria, Germany, Georgia, Greece, India, Poland, Spain, and Ukraine have a similar tradition.
Most Russians will not shake hands over a doorway. It is believed to be a bad omen and many Russians think the action will lead to an argument.
Although this video game gained world popularity, engineer-programmer and scientist Alexey Pazhitnov invented the first edition of Tetris in 1984 in the USSR.
In Russia it is popular to give flowers as gifts. It is important to give bouquets of flowers that have an odd number because bouquets that have even numbers of flowers are associated with funerals.
There is much more about Russia. Please research further on your own, if you wish to learn more.