Russia or the Russian Federation as it is correctly called, is the world’s biggest country in terms of area as it covers one eighth of the Earth’s populated land area and covers nine time zones.
The largest city on Russia’s Pacific coast is Vladivostok, which is 6,412 kilometres (3,984 miles) east of the capital Moscow. Vladivostok is situated on a peninsula at the head of Golden Horn Bay, close to the borders with China and North Korea and within relatively easy reach of Japan. Although it is a large city by Siberian standards, Vladivostok still does rate among the 20 biggest cities in Russia.
Nevertheless, it has always been strategically important and is still Russia’s major Pacific naval port. It was particularly important during the Cold War with the United States when it was closed to commercial shipping, due to the number of submarines and ships that were based there.
Vladivostok is also the eastern terminus to the famous Trans Siberian Railway, so is the departure or exit point of those people who make the entire trip.
It is quite an attractive city, and has recently been renovated and rejuvenated for the APEC Summit which was held there in 2012. Having said that, some parts of the city still look decidedly untidy due to the decaying conditions of some buildings.
One of the best places to stroll is the promenade around Sportivnaya Harbour where there is a small amusement park, a statue of Hans Christian Andersen’s `Little Mermaid’, a marina, lots of food and drink vendors. Close by is Central Square (Ploschad Bortsov Revolutsy), which is a bustling place in the centre of the city where the most prominent features are the massive statues which celebrate the Fighters for Soviet Power in the Far East.
Because Vladivostok had strategic importance a number of forts were constructed. Some of the most interesting ones are the seven forts on Russky Island, some of which are open to the public, and some which only open sporadically as they are still be used for their original purpose.
If you enjoy naval history there is a very good submarine museum in the city at Korabelnaya Naberezhnaya. This is a museum that is actually in a converted C-56 Submarine, but it is only open from Wednesday to Saturdays.
Vladivostok is built around several extinct volcanoes, so the city is quite hilly. However, there are plenty of trails which wend their way up the hills where you can enjoy excellent panoramas.
If visiting Vladivostok from an international destination, two of the most interesting ways to reach the city are from Harbin in China, and by ferry from Japan and Korea.