When we visited Novosibirsk, we had a grand total of four hours between trains and after checking our bags in and out of the cloakroom, that equated to 3 hours in reality. So, how did we spend those three hours? Wisely. Novosibirsk is the capital of Siberia and was an off-limits city to foreigners in Soviet times. Here you can sample a true taste of Russia.
Here’s what we did and what sights to see in Novosibirsk. The sights are listed in the order that we saw them and they create a nice walking loop around the centre.
1. Ascension Cathedral
Not the grandest or biggest church we’ve seen here in Siberia, but nice nonetheless. In Russia, they seem to use the word ‘cathedral’ loosely.
2. Central Market
Markets abroad are always inherently interesting, as you can see strange wares that you do not recognise. The central market here is much smaller than Irkutsk’s, but it’s easy to get to and was only a small deviation off our route.
Unfortuantely, we didn’t get to see the market in full swing as we entered the market before it officially opened to the public. As an aside, I wouldn’t buy meat from here; before the market opens, house sparrows peck and eat the carcases and the vendors don’t seem to care (though they care A LOT when people take photos of this without their permission).
3. Central Park (also anglicised to Tsentralnyy Park)
On our way, we visited a nice park that also housed a small theatre and a super friendly squirrel.
4. Lenin Square and The Opera and Ballet Theatre
The main square contains a collection of communist-style monuments to Lenin and others in front of the beautiful and brutalist Opera and Ballet Theatre. True Soviet Russia at its finest.
5. The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
This hundred year old church was created using influences from Byzantine architecture and is lucky to be still be here. The communists tried to blow it up, but the cathedral withstood the blast with only minor damage and to prevent nearby buildings from being damaged further, the communists decided to leave the church standing. I, for one, am glad the Soviets were incompetent demolition experts, because this is a very nice church indeed. A service was taking place when we arrived so we didn’t venture too far into the church, but we could see that the church was beautifully decorated inside, like all Russian churches.
If we had time…
6. The USSR Museum
We saw it on the outside, but unfortunately we didn’t see it from the all important inside. Our train was due to leave just 5 minutes after the museum was due to open (10 AM). Nevertheless, this would have been on our list to visit and if you’ve got time, the USSR Museum might be well worth a visit.
We know we didn’t get to see all the sights in Novosibirsk, we simply chose a route that showed us most of the main sights in an efficient manner. If you know of anything we missed, please include it in the comments below.