Russia is a kaleidoscope of climatic zones such as tundra, forest-tundra, forests, forest-steppes and semi-deserts; a true treasure-trove of different landscapes. One of its most astonishing regions is the Kola Peninsula.
It is not the climate itself, or the scenic swathes of pristine tundra, which only the most thirsty mind can embrace in its entirety, but the unique natural phenomenon that brings people from all over the world here.
The Fascinating Nature of Kola Peninsula
Here from September to April, on cloudless starry nights you can succumb to the beauty of Aurora borealis, the region of Murmansk northern lights that enthrall by its exquisite palette of colors. This marvel of nature is a natural electrical phenomenon marked by the breath-taking presence of streamers of mostly reddish or greenish light in the sky.
Come to see this capering rainbow of shades often indescribable, is from November to March, and as was mentioned before, the dark needs to be clear. Pradiz vacation packages offer some of the best northern lights tours Russia has to offer.
Apart from being the best place to view the northern lights, Kola Peninsula and its summers offer the chance to observe another miracle of nature the white nights. In the North the light persists through what is usually considered night. Come to visit the Russian North with your significant other for what can be more beautiful than pallid northern sky of the mellow tones of milk coffee.
But it is not only the nature that amazes, but also the culture of the land.
The People of the Land
This part of Russian North, the Kola Peninsula, is inhabited primarily by the Slavic people known as the Pomory, the able Russian people, who came to the land either fleeing serfdom or searching for the opportunities for enrichment, numerous in this resource-rich scarcely populated region. There has never been serfdom proper in the land and thus this blend of vast expanses of land, horizon open to the winds, close-interconnection with neighboring Northern Europe, and a presence of people by and large with their freedom of movement unrestrained have all contributed to the freedom-loving spirit you witness in the land.
Also of high significance is the fact that this land has for centuries been inhabited by the Sami, who are traditionally fishermen, nomadic herders of caribou, and hunters of sea mammals. They speak a Finno-Ugric language and are drastically different from Russians who are seen as more sedentary.
On Pradiz Northern Lights package tours and White Nights package tours, you can visit both a village inhabited by the Pomory and that inhabited by the Sami.
In Tereberka, the Pomory village, you can see the peaceful seclusion of the Russian North and feel the proximity of the sea. The tour offers a chance to have lunch on the seaside in the Pomory way, with sandwiches and piece of Teriberka cake, washed down with hot tea.
The village was the setting of one of the most successful contemporary Russian films “the Leviathan”. Thus, many of the film’s lovers come here. Part of the trend which sees the general reawakening of the interest in the Russian north.
Visiting the Saami village is a truly unique experience. In Winter you can enjoy dog-sledding there and in summer riding ATVs. You can also have taken the pictures of you in the Sami national dresses, and those of you with animals, such as arctic foxes. On top of that, try out the unique Arctic cuisine, and don’t forget dishes including fish, for it is the staple in the region, along with buckwheat and rye.
If the Saami engaged primarily in hunting, fishing, and herding deers, the Russians known as Pomory primarily occupied themselves with trade, sailing, and ship-building. This highlights the enormous importance of the sea and the tight dependence of the people of Pomorie on it.
The Art of the Land
One of the most brilliant results of this love affair that has lasted for centuries is the Koches.
The history of the Russian fleet is often thought to begin with Peter the Great and his effort to westernize by and large what is seen as a country alien to the sea and its allure. But in fact the Pomory have been brave, intrepid sea-farers for hundreds of years and have never shared “the muscovite landlocked mentality”.
One of the prime examples of their craft is Koches. This ship is so conceived as to easily maneuver between blocks of ice and floes. It is nimble but also solidly made. It has a layer of material that specially protects it against ice, thus keeping it undamaged in perilous northern waters. It is thus can be considered one of the world’s first ice-breakers. Its widespread use just as the use of other ships considered genuinely Russian was abruptly ceased by the decree of Peter the Great in 1715. They were replaced with what was seen as more western and modern vessels, leading once a thriving Pomory shipbuilding industry to a gradual decline.
The Glorious Past and its Heritage
Apart from sea other thing that comes to mind when visiting the Russian North is its beautiful architecture dating back to the origins of the Russian state. One example of the Kola Penisula old Russian architectural heritage is the exquisite wooden church in Varzuga.
Some of the architectural marvels bear witness to the former commercial grandeur of the land. Its heyday was that of a land open to western civilizational influences in a pursuit of a financial gain. But just as with the craft of the land, the prosperity was severely undermined by the determined effort of Peter the Great to develop what was to become St. Petersburg.
Thus both the ship-building of the Russian North and its commercial vitality were greatly sabotaged by Peter the Great, whose figure nevertheless shaped the history of Russia and that of the Russian navy.
The Persistent Appeal of the Sea and the Present
The results of the region’s shift from the Arkhangelsk-based commerce oriented economy towards what is seen as industry and the resource extraction is obvious on the visit to Olenegorsk open pit. There the enormous pit testifies to the mettle and tenacity of both Russian prospectors and the toil of the Russian miners. Going on its environs and Murmansk tours is a unique way to comprehend the Russian life, get a firm grasp of the Russian history and most of all see the dancing lights of the aurora borealis, whose subtle shades remind one of the fact that some art is not exhibited in the museums.
To take in the seismic changes that were made by Peter the Great in the Russian navy and imposed upon Russia as a whole go on Pradiz’s nonpareil Murmansk tours, which feature many sea-and-navy related sites. In the world’s largest Arctic city, you can see the momentum that was imparted by Peter in his making Russia a major naval power, as part of his Westernization of Russia.
Note that due to the geographical proximity you can reach Murmansk via St. Petersburg; the flight to Murmansk from there takes under 2 hours. To discover the Venice of the North you may consider our great St Petersburg Russia tours.