Russia is actually the biggest country in the world, but I realized this only when traveling more across the European continent. Everything seemed to me so near! For us Russians, a neighboring city is located only on a night trip by train. And it’s quite usual to travel by train for 40 hours and beyond. Russia is really worth exploring by train beyond Moscow and Saint Petersburg. It’s actually the only way to better comprehend Russia’s philosophy of time and distance. The photographs below were taken during my various train trips across Russia.

Kolomna, Golden Ring

Kolomna is an ancient city of Moscow Oblast situated 114 km from Moscow at the confluence of the Moskva and Oka Rivers. It is the oldest city of the Golden Ring, full of old Russian flair. I tried to catch some during a short day trip from Moscow.

Tula – Тула

One year older than Moscow, the city of Tula used to be the major outpost of nomads until in 1503 it became a part of Duchy of Muscovy and its southern fort. In 1552 the town survived the siege of Tatar hordes, headed by the Crimean khan Devlet-Girey the First. At the beginning of the XVI century it was an epicenter of Dark Times and later on grew as a great iron guns producer – until today. Its samovars are as recognizable as its famous Tulskiye pryaniki (gingerbread cookies). The Russian proverb “they don’t carry samovars to Tula town” means the same as “they don’t bring coals to Newcastle”. I mostly photographed Tula in its most ancient part on the left bank of the Upa River as well as around Yasnaya Polyana, where Leo Tolstoy owned a manor 12 km away from Tula. Tolstoy was born in Yasnaya Polyana, he wrote “War and Peace” and “Anna Karenina” there, and is buried there. The other three districts of Tula are very industrial, and keep many traces of the Soviet period.

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