Soviet Sites

If you’re looking to discover Soviet historical sites and want to find the best places to view Soviet-era history then you can explore our interactive map above or navigate further by using the links below.

Once you’ve explored the list of Soviet sites and selected those you wish to visit you can use our itinerary planner tool to plan your trip and then print off a free pocket guidebook. This indispensible holiday guide will help you make the most of your time exploring Soviet-era sites.

Our database of historic places is growing all the time, but we may not cover them all. Remember, if you know of other Soviet historical sites, remains or ruins, you can always add them to Trip Historic now by visiting our upload page.

Soviet Russia: Site Index

Photo by Andrew Kudrin (cc)

Kazan Cathedral

Kazan Cathedral is an imposing nineteenth century cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia.

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Kazan Cathedral, also known as The Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan and Kazanskiy Kafedralniy Sobor, is a large and impressive nineteenth century cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia. Designed by Andrei Voronikhin , Kazan Cathedral was modelled on Rome’s Basilica of St Paul and completed in 1811.

Kazan Cathedral has had a diverse history, including being a symbol of Russian victory following the defeat of Napoleon in the war of 1812 and even being a museum of aethism during the Bolshevik era. Remnants of its history prevail. For example, the Mikhail Kutuzov, a famous Russian Field Marshal who led the Russians in 1812, is buried there to this day and the museum still occupies part of Kazan Cathedral, although it has since undergone a name change.

Photo by eimoberg (cc)

Lenin’s Mausoleum

Lenin’s Mausoleum is a granite crypt where visitors are invited to see the mummified body of former Soviet leader, Vladimir Lenin.

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Lenin’s Mausoleum is the final resting place of one of Russia’s most famous and ruthless leaders, Vladimir Lenin. Lenin’s Mausoleum borders Moscow’s Red Square.

Born Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov on 22 April 1870, Lenin was a member of the Bolshevik division of Russia’s Social Democratic Workers’ Party. A revolutionary thinker and philosopher Lenin became the leader of the Bolshevik party before ascending to power as the first head of state of Soviet Russia as part of a coup d’état known as the October Revolution of 1917.

Lenin died of a stroke on 22 January 1924 and his body was soon embalmed. Lenin’s mausoleum was built in Red Square to house his mummified corpse, initially as a wooden structure and later as a more permanent building. Today, Lenin’s Mausoleum is a popular tourist attraction, despite the rumours that his body has since been replaced with a fake.

Lenin’s Mausoleum features as one of our top ten tourist attractions of Russia.

Mask of Sorrow

The Mask of Sorrow is a stark reminder of those who perished in Soviet prison camps.

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The Mask of Sorrow is a monument in Magadan in Russia dedicated to those who died in Soviet gulags.

The gulags were prison camps first used by the Bolsheviks and then vastly expanded between 1934 and 1951, particularly under soviet leader, Joseph Stalin. Notoriously brutal and famously remote, the gulags were forced labour camps used by Stalin to ‘purge’ the Soviet Union of perceived ‘enemies of the people’.

The Mask of Sorrow is a vast stone statue of a crying face, the interior of which is a recreation of a gulag cell. Behind the main statue is a smaller monument showing a kneeling woman with her face in her hands.

The Mask of Sorrow overlooks another relic of Soviet Russia, the Road of Bones, which was built by prisoners. Many of them died during its construction and their remains were scattered into the earth around it. Even the nearby town of Magadan was built by prisoners.

Photo by Historvius

Museum of Genocide Victims

The Museum of Genocide Victims in Vilnius focuses on human cost of the Soviet occupation of Lithuania.

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The Museum of Genocide Victims, commonly known as the KGB Museum, is dedicated to the history of Lithuania under the Soviet rule between 1940-1941 and 1944-1991. As its name suggests, it is particularly focused on the repressions against the Lithuanian people.

Fittingly, the Museum of Genocide Victims is housed in the former headquarters of the KGB in Vilnius, this being the site where citizens of Lithuania were imprisoned and interrogated (there is also a cell where death sentences were carried out).

Exhibitions at the Museum of Genocide Victims look at the history of the Soviet occupation and the activities of the Soviet secret service. There are also exhibitions on the armed and unarmed anti-Soviet resistance, and those Lithuanian people who were sent to the Gulags and exiled to the remotest parts of the Soviet Union.

Perm 36 Gulag

Perm 36 is the best preserved of Stalin’s Gulags, near the border with Siberia.

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Perm-36 was one of many Gulags established under the Soviet regime of Joseph Stalin and the best-preserved of its kind. Essentially, Gulags were forced labour or concentration camps for prisoners of the state, including criminals and political prisoners such as human rights activists and anyone deemed to be opposed to the state.

Also known as ITK-6, Perm-36 was established in 1946 near the Russian-Siberian border and was built to hold around a thousand prisoners. Prisoners were forced to work in cutting down trees for use as building materials. Living conditions were dire, with overcrowding and work taking place in all weather. To survive, inmates would have to overcome hunger, brutal treatment and disease.

Perm-36 was only closed down in 1988. In the period after Stalin’s death in 1953, Perm-36 was initially used as a prison for those in his regime convicted of crimes carried out under his rule and later for law-enforcement officials convicted of “traditional” crimes. Political prisoners also continued to be interned there.

Today, the Perm-36 Museum offers tours of the former camp as well as exhibits about its history.

Red Square

Red Square is a world famous public plaza in Moscow in Russia and the site of many important social, political and military events.

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Red Square (Krasnaya Ploshad) is a public plaza in Moscow in Russia and one of the most famous squares in the world. In fact, it is of such historical importance that it is a UNESCO World Heritage historic site.

Originally intended to be a marketplace for the city, the name “Red Square” derives from the fact that the Russian word “krasnaya” means both “beautiful” and “red”. Red Square itself is more black than red, owing to its dark cobblestones and spans an area of approximately 74 metres squared.

The exact date of the establishment of Red Square is unknown and probably goes back to at least the fifteenth century when it was the site of public executions. The first recorded mention of Red Square by its current name dates back to the seventeenth century. The square’s history is also closely associated with that of the Kremlin, which borders it.

Whilst Red Square was primarily a centre of trade throughout the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it was also considered a place of religious importance with several churches built around it and some ceremonies taking place on the square itself. It has also served a wider ceremonial and social role, being the site of several coronations of Russian tsars.

Throughout the twentieth century, Red Square became an important site of political, military and social significance, particularly during the Soviet era, when military parades took place there. Several important events have taken place at Red Square, especially during the Second World War, when troops marched through it on their way to the front lines on 7 November 1941 and took part in a victory parade on 24 June 1945. In 1987, German pilot Mathias Rust landed a small aircraft next to Red Square.

Today, Red Square is a tourist hotspot and one of the first places visitors frequent on their travels around Russia. This is due in large part to the Red Square’s central location and impressive surroundings. It is bordered by several sites of historical importance, including Lenin’s Mausoleum, the State History Museum, St. Basil’s Cathedral and, of course, the Kremlin. It also features as one of our top 10 tourist attractions in Russia.

 

The Dneprovsky Mine

The Dneprovsky Mine was a soviet prison camp in eastern Russia under Joseph Stalin.

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The Dneprovsky Mine was a Soviet prison camp in eastern Russia and is now one of the best preserved of its kind.

Operating between 1941 and 1955, the Dneprovsky Mine was a tin mining site used by Joseph Stalin as one of his infamous gulags.

The gulags were prison camps which housed those who were considered to be ‘enemies of the people’, subjecting them to forced labour. There are thought to have been hundreds of gulags throughout soviet Russia, although few can be found today.

Much of the infrastructure at the Dneprovsky Mine at the time it was used as a gulag is still there today, including watchtowers, huts and barbed wire fences.

The Kremlin

The Kremlin has been the seat of Russian power for centuries and was the site of many significant historical events. Today it houses several impressive museums and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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The Kremlin (Kreml) is an iconic symbol of Russian statehood and forms the seat of its political power. Characterised by colourful domes and opulent buildings, this vast triangular shaped complex, together known as The Kremlin, spans an area of around 28 hectares and includes several beautiful palaces, numerous churches and even armouries and a medieval fortress.

Origins
The Kremlin’s history can be traced back as far back as 1156, preceding even the founding of the principality of Moscow in 1236. However, most of the buildings in the Kremlin were built between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries, initially under the reign of Dmitry Donskoy, then rebuilt in the fifteenth century under Ivan the Great. It was also under Ivan the Great that The Kremlin served as the seat of Russian power, a role which it fulfilled until Peter the Great transferred the Russian government to St Petersburg.

It was only in March 1918, when the Bolsheviks chose Moscow as their political centre, that The Kremlin once again took centre stage.

Cathedral Square
The Kremlin offers visitors a plethora of incredible sites. Many of these, including the Cathedral of the Assumption, which was built in the 1470s, are contained in Cathedral Square. Many of Russia’s important religious leaders are buried here.

Cathedral Square in The Kremlin was once a centre of political and religious importance and the site of many significant ceremonies such as coronations. It is the home of what was once Russia’s tallest structure, an imposing sixteenth century tower known as Ivan the Great Belltower. This 81 metres high tower was largely destroyed in 1812 by Napoleon’s army, but the main pillar remained and the whole structure was restored in the nineteenth century.

The Cathedral of the Annunciation is another worthy site in this part of The Kremlin, built by Ivan III in the fifteenth century and once being the official chapel of Russia’s tsars.

The Armoury
Beyond its religious sites, The Kremlin has much to offer the history enthusiast, notably in its Armoury which contains a myriad of exhibits relating to Russian culture including ceremonial clothing of the tsars, Faberge eggs, the chalice of the founder of Moscow, Yuri Dolgoruky and, next door, the stunning Orlov Diamond which measures a staggering 190 carats.

Those interested in military history can view the 40-tonne Tsar Cannon built by Ivan the Terrrible’s son Fyodor in 1586. Its enormous size belies the fact that it has never actually worked.

The Communist Era
During the twentieth century, The Kremlin became the focal point of Russia’s communist regime, being the home of, amongst others, Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin. Both of these leaders unleashed waves of destruction upon The Kremlin’s architecture, including demolishing monuments, such as one dedicated to Alexander II and buildings such as the Chudov Monastery.

Today, The Kremlin contains the President’s residences, including The Great Kremlin Palace, a nineteenth century building constructed during the reign of Tsar Nicholas I, The Senate and The Kremlin Administrative Building.

Overall, The Kremlin is a fascinating site, having played a vital role throughout Moscow’s social and political history. It contains several museums, some within its churches, whilst other exhibits are peppered throughout its grounds. The sheer beauty of its architecture makes The Kremlin an incredible place to visit and a must see site when visiting Moscow.

Unfortunately, some of its buildings, particularly its palaces are not open to the public, but even given this there is too much to see in one day. Themed tours and excursions are on offer, but it’s best to book in advance. The Kremlin became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1990 and also features as one of our top ten visitor attractions in Russia.

The Peter and Paul Fortress

The Peter and Paul Fortress in St Petersburg is an 18th century fort turned political prison listed by UNESCO.

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The Peter and Paul Fortress (Petropavlovskaya Krepost) was the first building or structure built by Peter the Great in the city of St Petersburg.

A giant fortification, the Peter and Paul Fortress was founded in 1703 in order to defend the city from Swedish attack as, at the time, Russia and Sweden were engaged in the Great Northern War. However, it never fulfilled this role, the Swedish having been defeated before managing to reach St Petersburg.

In fact, the most military action the Peter and Paul Fortress saw occurred during the October Revolution of 1917, when it was taken by the Bolsheviks. Prior to this, the Peter and Paul Fortress was already serving as a prison and a military base, having been designated as such from 1721 onwards.

Those incarcerated in the Peter and Paul Fortress were mostly political prisoners including anarchist Peter Kropotkin. Within the Peter and Paul Fortress stands the Peter and Paul Cathedral, where Peter the Great and other Russian leaders are buried.

The Peter and Paul Fortress has been a museum since 1924 and part of the St Petersburg UNESCO World Heritage site since 1990. It contains several small museums and exhibits and also features as one of our top ten Russian tourist attractions.

The Smolny Institute

The Smolny Institute was Lenin’s seat of power during the October Revolution.

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The Smolny Institute, now partially the Lenin Museum, is a classical pastel-coloured building in St. Petersburg which was Vladimir Lenin’s headquarters. It fulfilled this role during the October Revolution in which he led the Bolsheviks into power.

The Smolny Institute originally served as a finishing school for aristocratic girls. However in 1917, Lenin dramatically changed the fate of this building by selecting it as his base. From here, Lenin led the Bolsheviks in their rise to power in the October Revolution, part of the Russian Revolution.

It was in the assembly hall of the Smolny Institute on 25 October 1917 that he famously declared the creation of the Bolshevik state. The Smolny Institute remained Lenin’s headquarters and the seat of his government until March 1918.

The Smolny Institute then became a city hall for the local government and, in 1934, was the site of the assassination of Bolshevik party leader Sergei Kirov. By this time, Joseph Stalin was in power and he used Kirov’s death as the catalyst for the Great Purge, in which many member of the communist party were accused of crimes against the state and executed.

Today, the Smolny Institute is the seat of St. Petersburg’s mayor as well as housing the Lenin Museum. The 1927 statue of Lenin sill stands outside and inside visitors can see his original desk as well as learning about the important role this building played in Russia’s history.