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Sometimes described as “Russia’s San Francisco,” and greatly reminiscent of Anchorage, Alaska, when in winter, it is literally closer to the west coast of the United States than it is to Moscow. Despite this fact, elements of the Asian culture inherited from the city’s nearest neighbors can be observed even during a simple walk down the streets of Vladivostok, when at the same time the architecture leaves no doubt that this is a Russian city. The city is located at the same latitude with Russian subtropical sea resort of Sochi, but its average annual temperature is nearly 10 degrees lower due to the Siberian High that brings cold winds from Yakutia for much of the winter. Thus the winter is typical for Manchuria, it is cold, clear and very windy, the snow is scarce and in some years may not fall at all. Vladivostok was first built in 1860 when Russia expanded eastwards over and beyond the River Amur. At this time Russia made its claim to the Russian Far East. Vladivostok became Russia´s most important city in the East; the Russian Pacific fleet was based there as were large fishing fleets. Surrounded by Amursky Gulf from the west, Ussuriysky Gulf from the east and Golden Horn Bay along the south Vladivostok is the home of the Russian Pacific Fleet. The Trans-Siberian Railway was built to connect Asian and European Russia.

The final stop on the line, or the first if you are traveling westwards, is in Vladivostok. The city’s strategic location and port have in short led to Vladivostok being a vital hub in North East Asia. From its foundation in 1860 as a military post the city received the status of porto-franco that boosted international commerce and development. The first thing that will catch the traveller’s eye right from the platform of the railway station is a unique building of the terminus of the Trans-Siberian Railway built more than a century ago. The might of the Russian Navy on the Pacific Ocean sits on display from the platform of the adjacent sea terminal. As with other naval headquarters, Vladivostok celebrates the Russian fleet with a number of museums, such as the S-56 World War II-era submarine which is located on the shore of the Golden Horn (the first Soviet submarine to circumnavigate the globe!). This city of hills gives the opportunity to see some of the most spectacular views from the city’s funicular or the cliffs above Ussuri Bay. Moreover the new cable-stayed bridge across the Eastern Bosphorus grants access to even more scenic views on Frunzensky Island. Come see for yourself!

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