Unless you’re a regular visitor to Russia, you probably won’t have put Novosibirsk on your sightseeing itinerary. But that’s a mistake: though overshadowed by Moscow and St Petersburg, there are plenty of reasons why you should visit Novosibirsk too.
It has some must-see museums
Travellers will find they have an affinity with N K Rerikh – he was an itinerant writer, scientist, philosopher and archaeologist as well as a talented painter. There’s a museum dedicated to his life and works in the city and it recounts the fascinating story of this intriguing character. He spent five years touring Central Asia and the Himalaya, crossing 35 mountain passes with an altitude of over 14000 feet – in the 1920s. If you’re keen to continue museum-hopping, try the Novosibirsk State History Museum too. Visitors to this recently renovated place learn about the history of the city and Siberia. Don’t miss the displays on shamanism and nomadic lifestyles in the basement for an insight to a Russia you probably know little about. Instagrammers are also bound to enjoy the USSR museum with a plethora of Soviet memorabilia and plenty of costumes for dressing up. Selfie sticks at the ready!
It offers some quirky dining options
Dining out takes on a whole different dimension when you step inside Puppen Haus. This eccentric restaurant, whose name translates to Puppet House, is subdivided into cubbies and alcoves crammed with wooden puppets. But unlike some gimmicky eateries, the food’s really good here – and quite different to what you’re used to. With menu staples like bear claw and reindeer steaks supplemented by crabs from the Kamchatka peninsula and locally caught fish, this is one place you’ll remember after your trip’s over. If that’s a little too out there for your sensibilities, you might be relieved to learn there’s a good old-fashioned British pub. Pass by the London black cab on the doorstep and step into Notting Hill or Soho for a British dining experience with a distinctly Novosibirsk twist.
It’s home to the largest theatre in Russia and a beautiful cathedral
You might be forgiven for thinking that the famous Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow is the largest theatre in the country but in actual fact that honour goes to the Novosibirsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre. Located on Lenin Square in the heart of the city, it was built in 1944 and opened a year later. Take a close look at the huge dome, which spans 60 metres and stands 35 metres tall yet doesn’t rely on beams of columns for support. Renovations a decade or so ago saw the installation of state of the art stage equipment, making it one of Russia’s most technically advanced venues as well.
If you’re keen to visit its cathedral, you’ll be delighted to learn that the Alexander Nevsky cathedral, built in 1898, has some stunning gilded domes and vibrant murals. Dedicated to Tsar Alexander III who founded the city, it was closed during the Soviet era and reopened in 1989.