If you are interested in cities with a rich history and the Russian Steppe appeals then we recommend that you study Russian in Novosibirsk in the heart of Siberia. Novosibirsk despite its somewhat remote location has lots to offer. In the summer you can take advantage of the great bathing spots, boat trips on some of Russia´s largest rivers, horse riding or hiking out on the tundra. Winter offers opportunities for good skiing, skating and other winter sports. On top of the sporting activities there is a wide array of cultural activities for you to enjoy during your stay.
Siberia has been occupied by many different groups of nomads such as the Yenets, the Nenets, the Huns, and the Uyghurs. The area was conquered by the Mongols in the 13th century and eventually became the autonomous Siberian Khanate. The growing power of Russia to the east began to undermine the Khanate in the 16th century. First groups of traders and Cossacks began to enter the area, and then the imperial army began to set up forts further and further east. By the mid-17th century, the Russian-controlled areas had been extended to the Pacific. Siberia remained a mostly unexplored and uninhabited area. During the following few centuries, only a few exploratory missions and traders chose to inhabit Siberia, other groups that were sent to Siberia were prisoners exiled from western Russia.
The first great change to Siberia was the Trans-Siberian railway, constructed in 1891 - 1905. It linked Siberia more closely to the rapidly-industrializing Russia of Nicholas II. Siberia is filled with natural resources and during the 20th century these were developed, and industrial towns cropped up throughout the region.
Novosibirsk lies at the point where the Trans-Siberian railway crosses the River Ob. The city was founded in connection with the building of the Trans-Siberian railway in 1893. The great bridges and Alexander Nevsky Cathedral were built as monuments. Novosibirsk is the so-called capital of Siberia, because of its comparative wealth and centres of academic excellence.
Twenty five kilometres south of Novosibirsk´s city centre lies a rather unusual place locally known as Akademgorodok (Academy Town). As you wander the quiet streets lined with modest houses, large parks and numerous scientific buildings you really get the sense that you are in a place devoted to research and development. Akademgorodok is Siberia´s centre of academic excellence with over 50 well-known universities and research centers and is home to a population of 100,000.
It was in 1957 that Akademgorodok was founded. In the 60s Akademgorodok was unique in many ways where people dared to discuss the foundations of Marxist theory, bring forward ideas of economic reforms, read books and listen to poets and singers not approved by the official regime.
The collapse of the Soviet Union as well as more recent reforms, have had a great impact on Akademgorodok. The place of scientists is partly taken by businessmen and programmers, who have made the Russian equivalent of ´Silicon Valley´ in Akademgorodok. Akademgorodok is currently one of the Wi-Fi hotspots among all the cities of the former Soviet Union.
Climate: Sharply continental
GMT Offset: GMT +6 hours
To do and see: Altai Mountains, Explore the Altai Mountains, Novosibirsk city tour,
Russian in Novosibirsk
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