Easily combined with a Moscow city break via a river cruise, the southern Russian city of Rostov on Don is well worth a visit. The city’s blessed with a plethora of interesting sights but the best place to start is along the Don River’s embankments. Lined with statues, fountains and restaurants, it’s the place to begin a river boat excursion as well as being the focus of the city’s nightlife.
Another key location if you’re just getting your bearings is Pushkin Street. This elegant, tree-lined boulevard features wrought iron globes depicting scenes from Pushkin’s best-known works. A stroll along Pushkin Street leads you to City Park and October Revolution Park, but UK visitors will be keen also to pay a visit to a park named in honour of the city’s twin – Glasgow. Situated on the banks of the Don’s tributary, the Termernik, it features plants indigenous to Scotland and pavilions in which to seek shade from the summer heat.
A popular landmark in Rostov on Don is the obelisk which can be found in Teatralnaya Square. Nicknamed Stella by the locals, it’s inscribed to honour science, agriculture, the military, arts and education. The golden lady herself hovers high above the ground on this gleaming sculpture which bears some resemblance to a huge dart or arrow. She commemorates the city’s liberation in 1943 and stands as a reminder of the tragedies and heartache of the Great Patriotic War period.
As with Moscow and St Petersburg, it’s popular amongst tourists to visit the opera or ballet during their visit to Rostov on Don. Since 1999, the best place to go has been the beautiful Rostov State Opera and Ballet building. It has three auditoria: a theatre seating around a thousand people, a chamber venue and a cabaret hall. Fans of music and the arts will also be delighted to learn that the city has a tradition of art and jazz festivals; it’s well worth timing a visit to coincide with one of them.
Downtown, shopping at the “Rinok” or bazaar is a must. There’s a huge selection of indoor and outdoor retailers to explore and haggling is encouraged. The Rinok focuses mostly on food and clothing, though pretty much anything can be found if you hunt long enough. Bring your phrase book and see what bargains you can strike. You’ll have much more fun than if you simply visited the regular shopping area, but of course, you could always do both!