Why did we choose Krasnoyarsk?
Krasnoyarsk, situated on Yenisei River, is a city with population over 1 million people. It’s not Russia‘s prime tourist destination, but many travelers who take Trans-Siberian Railway stop there. Before we went to Russia, we discussed which stops to take in that limited amount of time that we had. And for me, Krasnoyarsk was one of the places to visit – I heard about its nature park, I read very positive reviews about the city and was quite excited to see it. I wish I could say: “Go to Krasnoyarsk, it’s really great, you won’t regret it!” But unfortunately I cannot do it. For me, Krasnoyarsk was far from being the highlight of this trip, or frankly, any kind of highlight at all.
A little about Krasnoyarsk
The city dates back to 1628. It was established as a border fort, and only started truly growing in 1735, when it became a part of the Siberian route, which connected European Russia with Siberia and China. Krasnoyarsk was given a town status in 1822. The city experienced a huge industrial growth since then. Today it’s a very important hub for metallurgy, forestry, chemicals, but also, as well as Novosibirsk, for science and education.
Stolby Nature Reserve
One of the most prominent sights to see in Krasnoyarsk is Stolby Nature Reserve. These rocky formations in the middle of the hill are surrounded by forest that stretches over 47219 hectares. While in Krasnoyarsk, we also made our way to Stolby. Once there, we unfortunately found out that the sanctuary was temporarily closed. Apparently, the activity of bears who live in that region was quite high, and they were seen coming to the hiking path. So, due to the safety regulations, the park was closed for a few weeks. All we could do is to walk 2 km to the gate and back, without seeing almost any rock formations. It was a peaceful walk though, and we saw some beautiful birds and, of course, majestic Russian forest.
Tip: to get to Stolby you can take public transportation. During weekdays take buses number 19, 50 and 78 to the stop called Turbaza (in Russian: Турбаза). On the weekends bus number 80 also stops there. Bus ticket costs 22 rubles (*July 2018) and can be purchased inside the bus from the conductor, who will approach you once you enter.
Pollution is the big problem in Krasnoyarsk. Russians we met on a train called it “mini-Beijing”. Apparently, this is one of the most polluted cities in Russia at the moment, and we could clearly feel it. If you have ever been to the polluted city, you know the signs: that burning smell, that itch in your throat, that haze above. We couldn’t see the sun, and these weren’t just clouds. The next day right before we left we saw some blue sky, which gave us hope.
The city itself didn’t offer us that much entertainment either. City center is quite standard for bigger Russian cities, but the moment you are a bit further away everything changes. You see beautiful but poorly maintained log houses, no side walks and roads in a terrible condition. Suddenly, big city turns into a village. There are some attractions like riverfront, regional museum and Paraskeva Pyatnica Chapel. Here’s a few suggestions on what to see in Krasnoyarsk.
The Transfiguration Church
This church is quite uncharacteristic for Russia. It’s built as a Roman Catholic church, and today is in use by the Catholic community, though it doesn’t belong to them. Krasnoyarsk Regional Philarmony is the second occupant of this building, which is therefore also called Organ Hall or Organny Zal. It’s a beautiful church built in the neo-Gothic style. If you saw this building in Estonia or Germany or many other places in Europe, it wouldn’t seem so special. But it’s so unusual for Krasnoyarsk and for Russia in general, that it’s easily turned into an attraction.
Theater Square and monument to Siberian rivers
In front of the State Opera and Ballet Theater you’ll find an area with fountains and a statue of Apollo. If you continue from the Theater Square towards the river, you’ll see another fountain, called “Siberian rivers”. This art piece is a combination of bronze, marble and water over several levels. In the middle of the fountain sits Yenisei, and around him you’ll see 7 dancing nymphs, each of them represents a smaller river of the region.
Just like in Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg and Nizhny Novgorod, Krasnoyarsk continues a tradition of interesting statues. Visit the Lovers’ Square on Lomonosov/Dekabristov Street to see the statue of Man and a Dog (spoiler: that man is drunk). Find Uncle Yasha and Trainee, a monument dedicated to plumbers. See what more you can spot – among others, keep a lookout for monuments to the photographer, clown and a famous Russian poet Alexander Pushkin.
One thing I love about cities that are built on rivers is that they have bridges. And Yenisei is a magnificent river, even though nowadays very polluted and reportedly suffers from contamination by plutonium factory. View to the bridges, as well as view from same bridges is spectacular. Check out Kommunalniy bridge and Vinogradovskiy bridge.
For some reason Krasnoyarsk has some copies of famous things. You can find, for example, a mini Big Ben across the Theater Square and a mini Eiffel Tower on Ulitsa Vesny 18a. Check them out and compare to the real ones! Yep. They are smaller.
So, Krasnoyarsk: yes or no?
I can’t say that I wouldn’t recommend visiting Krasnoyarsk. Obviously, we were quite unlucky during our visit: the nature reserve was closed and the pollution level was very high. I believe other travelers might have better luck. If you have time to explore smaller villages outside Krasnoyarsk, I would suggest to do that. Otherwise, in winter you can go skiing in Bobroviy Log and in summer you can check out Royev Ruchey, park of flora and fauna (kind of a zoo).
We do hope you enjoy Krasnoyarsk more than we did, and if you loved it, please let us know what made your trip special! We are always open to visiting the same places twice if we love them. But we are also open to giving other cities a chance to make us fall in love with them. So, if you love Krasnoyarsk, write us a comment, drop us an email and let us know how wrong we are!
If you’d like to challenge our opinion on other destinations that didn’t blow us away, check out: