Real-life photos of Russia
It’s known as the motherland — a mysterious yet wonderful snowy mecca of splendor. We go through all of the Russian stereotypes, from “In Soviet Russia” jokes to their strong people, culture, and history. And if you’re ever in the area, this list can help you decide what you would like to do there on your next adventure. Whether you want to go sightseeing or enjoy the many activities, you’ll be amazed at what this place has to offer.
Every puddle is a hot tub … or a cold tub
Sometimes, you just need to take a quick dip. It appears this man thought that would be a good idea … despite the pouring rain, the dirty water, and who knows what else is in that puddle. You’ve got to credit this man for his taste, though — at least he was competent enough to open a cold one!
Of course, in Russia, using a normal Jacuzzi or hot tub would be too easy. In the motherland, everything has to be done … let’s just say, the natural way. And in a country where rain might as well be just as plentiful as snow, there are certainly plenty of puddles to go around.
A vibrant youth culture
Russia’s youth not only places emphasis on art but also on dynamic art. The annual Faces & Laces interactive exhibition project is proof of just that. This takes place during the summertime and invites the youth to take part in one of the biggest events of its kind post-Soviet era in Moscow.
It probably goes without saying that they take it very seriously, as seen by these pictures taken at Gorky Park in Moscow. But if you are planning on attending this event and aren’t the athletic type, don’t worry. There are plenty of other activities like face painting and graffiti artwork.
Russians take ice skating to another level
Some couples see ice skating as a whimsical, happy joyride while gliding on the ice. Others see it as a competition. Then there are those who take it to another level of sensation. This is definitely the case with Russia’s VDNKh ice skating, where skaters gather for what is known as “Horror Night” at the Rakata ice skating rink.
But it’s worth noting they don’t necessarily celebrate this occasion on Halloween, of course. In fact, this photo was taken in February 2019, which is much closer to our Valentine’s Day than Halloween. Suffice to say, you’re probably a quality skater if you can navigate while wearing those costumes!
On June 12, also known as Russia Day, the country celebrates the pride of their heritage. The holiday spans to about three dozen city parks in Moscow, with jazz orchestras, folklore groups, and pop singers performing, according to Russkiy Mir. Pictured is a man testing his sword skills during the event.
What can be a better way to display your national pride than a little swordsmanship? And this isn’t just any ordinary celebration, either. Clearly, the man is focused on showing his skills. The ceremony also allows passports to be given to young Russians. Clearly, many Russians love their country.
A show of strength
The saying is true: Russia has tough people. As evidenced by this photo, instead of celebrating Russia Day by lounging around, these Russians decided to get proactive and test their strength. This definitely makes us rethink how we should be spending the Fourth of July …
Their sheer willpower and strength have shown on the world stage, too. Mikhail Koklyaev is just one example of a Russian weight-lifting champion who took his talents to the international level. He’s won multiple titles and notched a third-place finish at the World’s Strongest Man competition.
Don’t get between Russians and their fried eggs
This photo shows a chef preparing what is known as Russia’s largest fried egg meal in the town of Novy Oskol, Belgorod. Now we know fried eggs are a common breakfast dish across a variety of cultures. But when a festival consists of reportedly 7,000 eggs in a 2-ton egg pan, that’s taking breakfast to a different level.
It’s probably safe to say Russians take breakfast pretty seriously. Guests who attended the festival in 2018 were able to taste different dishes given by the chefs and let them know their opinion. Talk about pressure to perform!
Mimicking the West
Of course, when Russians try something the West often does, they take it to another level. The picture here shows just that — a young man planking on the streets of Moscow in what appears to be extremely cold weather. It’s a curious thing, too, because who really understands the purpose of planking?
That aside, when people think of Russia, they generally assume they don’t favor anything resembling Western culture. This photo shows this simply isn’t the case. However, out of all the different ideas and popularized movements, why would they choose planking? We’re not sure either.
They’re kind of daredevils
We’ve all heard the standard “In mother Russia, the *insert joke here* breaks you” joke, but most may not know the ever-increasing popularity of parkour in the motherland. Pictured here is a parkour enthusiast leaping off a high wall in Moscow, a growing practice among Russia’s youth.
Another popular parkour spot is Berezniki, a sort of introductory town to Siberia, where many parkour amateurs and experts go to try out their skills. Apparently, the thrill doesn’t come without a cost, however. There have been multiple reported deaths from parkour incidents, with some falling to their end from 15 stories or more.
Russia on parade
This photo shows street performers painted in white at Moscow’s World Carnival’s Parade. It’s a rarity to see an entire — or large swath — of a city participate in a mass undertaking of theatrics. But this isn’t your average display of talent. As you know, in Russia, many events are molded into a competition.
The same can be said about this parade, too. And they’re not just limited to the country. More than 2,000 participants took part in the 2001 competition. Now that’s serious stuff. Perhaps the culture at large has a more creative skew than others …
Come out and smell the onions
Pictured here is a man holding a bag of onions during an onion festival in the town of Lukh. It’s been a relatively new tradition, which first began in 2006, and celebrates the history of the town, dating back to the reign of Ivan the Terrible.
So you would think it was a “terrible” time to be alive, right? Well, not in Lukh. They specifically celebrate in remembrance of the rich culture of the town. The celebration includes plenty of fun competitions, including the best onion sculpture, onion dish, a photo contest, and many others.
Giving New Year’s a whole new meaning
And we thought Christmas was crazy enough. But in Russia, the importance of New Year’s Eve is actually much greater. They celebrate New Year’s twice — once on January 14th and the other combined on December 31st and January 1st. They certainly know how to party it up, too.
To kick off celebrating the New Year, Russians take part in concerts and firework displays, with the biggest show happening in Red Square. Many opt to spend time with family, but there’s certainly a robust nightlife to be a part of. And unlike Christmas, Santa actually comes around during New Year’s in Russia!
Giving street art a new meaning
As shown previously, art in many different forms is important in Russia. Whether it’s ballet, music, expressive, interactive or other forms, art is a very important facet of Russian culture. As shown here, it’s hard to find another example showing this on an explicit scale.
Street art in Russia is maintained as a viable form of art. In fact, there’s a whole event dedicated to street art, called the Urban Morphogenesis Street Art Festival. This picture shows what can be described as an intricate mural that was done on an apartment block in the town of Odintsovo.
They love Japanese culture
You thought anime was limited to the U.S. and Japan, huh? Well, think again. This picture shows onlookers at the popular J-FEST in Moscow. And let’s just say these guys know how to party. At the festival, you can expect to see a cosplay show and a drummer’s parade. But there’s also plenty to do, too …
At the festival, you can expect to partake in a tea ceremony, calligraphy, and learn how to dance the Bon Odori. But what’s the best part about J-FEST? It’s free for everyone. So if you’re ever in the Moscow area — preferably during the summer — and are into anime and manga, you may want to give this a try.
Just another day on the Russian subway …
You thought the NYC subway was the headline catcher for weirdest — or most dangerous — stories of the day. Well, think again. Sometimes, it pays to come prepared for any situation. It’s probably safe to say this guy was one of those people.
Pictured above is a knight, otherwise historically known as a bogatyr. Some researchers say this word does not have Russian origins. Still, that didn’t stop this guy. He’s taken it upon himself to let the world know not to mess with him. And let’s be real, who would want to try? That armor looks virtually impenetrable …
A winter wonderland
In this picture, a woman takes a selfie in front of the “Friendship of Nations” fountain at the Ostankinsky District in Moscow. Built in 1939, this is one of the trademark spots for tourism in the country. It mainly acts as a tourist hub now, with multiple renames throughout its history.
To the untrained eye, this spot may seem like any other ordinary tourist attraction. But during the colder stretches of the year, it transforms into a giant ice skating rink. We all think it’s safe to say this has to be one of the coolest tourist spots in the world.
Ping-Pong is kind of a big deal
Table tennis has an interesting history in Russia. During the Cold War, specifically from 1930 to 1950, Joseph Stalin outlawed the sport because he thought it was “harmful to the eyes,” according to The Irish Examiner. This certainly may explain why they have yet to secure a gold medal in the Olympics for the sport.
Since then, however, the country has taken to the sport with ease. This photo shows an elderly woman playing table tennis at the Luzhniki Sports Complex in Moscow. You can even find some Ping-Pong tables set up throughout the city. In 2010, Moscow also hosted the 50th World Table Tennis Championships.
Yeah, dolls are still a thing
Now here’s a country that really cherishes their beloved past. That’s something you have to appreciate. Pictured here is a worker painting a matryoshka — or babushka — doll, which dates back as far back as the late 19th century. It’s truly a wonder something so antiquated is still sold in some stores to this day.
This particular factory also makes traditional Russian woodenware and souvenirs. And truly, Russian traditionality shines through these dolls. Usually, when bought together, they are lined up in a row in descending height, adding a certain charm and delicacy to them.
Spreading the holiday cheer
As with many other things, Russia knows how to take Easter to another level. From April 25th to May 5th, they host a festival centered on giving to the homeless in central Moscow. The theme for 2019 was “Helping is easy!” and featured more than 250 venues around the city.
The event is for all ages, too, making it fun and friendly for the whole family. It’s definitely a captivating experience, especially since the city is in full bloom during the festival. Downtown Moscow has many events, too, from theater performances based on the holiday to poetry readings and live music.
Uniforms, uniforms, uniforms
School uniforms tend to be commonplace in many of Russia’s secondary schools. After the demise of the Soviet Union, countrywide school uniform policy was abolished, but many schools still implement their own uniform policies today. This picture shows students at a rural secondary school in Chechnya, Russia, wearing regulated uniforms.
Surprisingly enough, from 1994 to 2013, school uniforms were not mandatory in Russia. But in September 2013, school uniforms were reintroduced as a new law into the school system. Sorry kids — looks like you’ll have to wait longer to achieve your fashion freedom once again.
Flexing their creative side
As you may have noticed, Russia likes to place plenty of emphasis on the arts. Pictured here is a man blowing into an extravagant pottery whistle in his workshop, called the Petrovskaya Igrushka Museum. This particular museum puts emphasis on pottery, but wait till you hear what else they have …
There’s much more to this museum than meets the eye. It also features cool exhibit items such as ancient irons, medieval weapons, and various other unusual household products. Of course, there are many forms of art. And it certainly seems like this place tries to incorporate as much as possible.
Polar bears everywhere?
We’re not totally sure where this is located. Murmansk? Norilsk? Either way, it’s pretty insane to see a polar bear anywhere remotely near civilization, given their natural habitat is usually in Arctic regions. It’s safe to say this polar bear simply doesn’t care and seems to go wherever it pleases.
However, this picture isn’t far from the truth. According to the TASS news agency, in February 2019, Russia saw a “mass invasion” of polar bears in the northeastern Novazaya region, which is a Russian archipelago extending into the Arctic ocean. Polar bears were seen attempting to enter homes. That would make anyone think twice before messing with them!
A blast from the past
The kokoshnik headdress was worn by Russian women and girls dating back to the 10th century. Traditionally worn by married women (although maidens would also wear them), the kokoshnik reached the height of its popularity from the 16th to 19th centuries. But, you would be surprised how they’re used now …
In 2014, they were mainly worn by participants in Russian folk ensembles. But the headdress made its rounds in American pop culture, too. One of the exotic costumes worn by Padmé Amidala in the Star Wars saga is based on the kokoshnik. And as recently as 2018, Russian FIFA fans were seen wearing a simpler version of the headdress too!
Life’s a beach
There are plenty of beaches to try in many different parts of the world. In fact, some places earn their stereotypes thanks to their coastlines. Whether that’s California, South Africa, Australia, or many other places. However, when you think of Russia, sparkling beachy sands isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind.
Well, think again. This photo was taken during the end of summer in Sochi, Russia. Sunbathers took to the beach to take in the sunlight before the sunset. With that being said, the winters — of course — can get to frigid temperatures in some areas. We’re pretty sure these beaches are deserted during that time!
The youth culture immerses themselves in art
As mentioned before, Russia has a fond connection with art which is embedded in their culture both historically and presently. And that isn’t just limited to the artworks of old. Many young Russians have shown an appreciation for it, too, as shown in this picture at the 11th Colorful Moscow International Youth Festival.
Unlike some portrayals of Russia, this festival promotes youth culture to redefine and characterize Russian diversity. As if this country couldn’t get any more talented … they have brains, brawn, and artistic skill!
Chickens are a huge part of the culture
Russia has a surprising historical and contemporary connection to, yes, you guessed it from the picture: chickens. In regards to the contemporary reason, the U.S. sanctions going into effect on the country prompted their president to breed what are being deemed as “super chickens” to cope with the loss of food imports from the U.S.
In going back to the past, the Russian chicken Kiev — a delicacy — originated as far back as the 1700s, when Russian aristocracy became interested in the French cuisine and began shipping chefs back and forth from both countries. Eventually, a Russian chef invented the dish in the early 19th century, and the rest was (delicious) history.
It’s hard not to take pride in a city that is basically a beautiful winter wonderland. And what could be a better way to celebrate than to host parades, concerts, and mass events? Shown here are parade partakers dancing in the streets of Moscow by celebrating its 869th anniversary celebration.
Suffice to say, it’s hard to be bored during this holiday. There is plenty for everyone to do, and every activity is free admission. There are about 1,000 different events, which include sports contests, live music concerts, museums, fairs, and more.
The police are just like everyone else
We all love those moments when the police take the time to hang out with ordinary people like us. In this photo, a Chechen special police soldier dances with fellow police and bystanders, giving off the vibe that they’re just like anyone else. This is in stark contrast to the history of the region, too.
It’s sad when the police get a bad rap. And this photo shows something special, which happened during the unveiling of a new street that would later be named after a prominent Russian poet. Who would’ve thought these cops would have a soft side?
Grace and elegance
Of course, Russian ballet has a long and rich history, which has influenced the culture and even their way of life. In the late 17th to mid-18th century, Russian tsars directed the goal of ballet to not merely be a form of competition but to influence the culture with its grace and elegance.
If you have a history dating back to the tsars, that’s when you know you’re pretty serious. Suffice to say, ballet has been one of Russia’s strengths in terms of international competition, too. Pictured above is the opening ceremony of the International Volkov Festival in Yaroslavl.
Street song sing-alongs
While this picture shows a man performing a song in Yaroslavl, the city of Moscow certainly gets its fair share of musicians as well. But, they don’t just get to play on a whim. In fact, the city has strict rules governing where they can perform. This started in 2016, mainly through state mandates.
There have been some reports detailing that certain genres would not be allowed, specifically electronica and heavy metal music. However, the main rules implied there were certain streets where musicians could not perform. Although for a big city like Moscow, we imagine this won’t be a big deal.
Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day
Some people prefer cold weather, while others opt for hot or lukewarm. Luckily, if you visit Russia, you will typically have plenty of climates to choose from (depending on when you go). Thanks in part to the enormous size of the country, the region has virtually every climate type, with western Russia reportedly having the most rainfall.
This picture shows a woman frantically trying to get out of the pelting rain in Moscow, which seems to be a frequent event. In fact, the westernmost parts of Russia get up to about 30 inches of rain in some areas. So make sure to bring your waterproof clothes … or maybe a swimsuit!