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"Unknown Russia" - about the coolest places and food in the country

The group on Vkontakte "Unknown Russia" is one of the most popular public about local lore (now there are more than 67 thousand participants). Its creators talk about interesting places in our country and prove that Russia has its own Machu Picchu, just few people know about them. Life around talked with the creator of the group, Anton Kvitantsev, about the best national food and why a trip to Dagestan might not be more boring than to another country.

The coolest places and food in Russia

The coolest thing in Russia is the national republics, they allow you to feel like in another country, and there are full of underrated attractions. I can name the Burzyansky district in Bashkiria, the complex of military towers in Ingushetia and the incredible cultural wealth in Dagestan. If we talk about places in our regions and territories, then the Guam gorge in the Krasnodar Territory.

If you were in Ufa, then you actually did not see Bashkiria. There are only decorations, because the Bashkirs in Ufa live less than Russians and even Tatars. In order to know Bashkiria, you need to go to those areas where the Bashkirs make up more than 90% of the population. In the Burzyansky district, everyone speaks Bashkir, and this is the best place to touch this culture and hospitality. Interesting Bashkir beekeeping - a method of obtaining honey, which is collected by wild bees, directly from the hollow. Burzyansky district is one of the last places on the planet where it is mined in this way, because wild bees are almost extinct. As for nature, Bashkiria in the first place is the mountains, mountain rivers and wild forests.

Ingushetia is not particularly attractive against the background of other, larger Caucasian republics, for example Kabardino-Balkaria, where Elbrus is, or Karachay-Cherkessia, in which Dombay. Ingushetia is the smallest region of Russia, not counting cities of federal significance. But there is a Dzheyrakhsky district where a large number of architectural monuments of the Middle Ages, built from the 7th to the 19th centuries, are concentrated. Among them are many battle and clan towers, as well as crypts and solar cemeteries. The Ingush people do not have many surnames (I think no more than a hundred), and each surname is a separate genus. Each of them has its own tower, for which the family still cares. Towers were needed to see the enemy from afar, light a fire and warn everyone about the danger. Until now, it is considered cool for the Ingush to go to their tribal tower.

The towers are very beautiful from an architectural point of view, they could become a Russian landmark on a global scale such as Machu Picchu or Red Square. Their view and landscape around are worth it to come there not only from the other end of Russia, but from the other end of the planet. But there is still a maximum of 200-300 tourists a month.


There are solar cemeteries in Ingushetia. When the elderly felt in Ingush families that it was time to die, they came to these burial grounds and lay down there


Do you know what a popular European attraction looks like? It is restored, licked, and around it are crowds of tourists who interfere with normal viewing. At the same time, you are not the first to see the sight, you are not even the millionth. In Ingushetia, everything is completely wrong, and that is why it is worth going there. Yes, normal tourist routes are not laid there, you need to tinker with it, and foreigners have to break through a pass for two months, but it's worth it. You will see incredible beauty, touch the antiquity, about which, besides you, few people know.

Also in Ingushetia there are solar cemeteries. When the elderly felt in Ingush families that it was time to die, they came to these burial grounds and lay down there. Their relatives first brought them food and visited, and then the old people died. It is also believed that burial grounds were used during the plague. And if you come there now, then in these small crypts you can find the medieval remains of the ancestors of modern Ingush.

At the same time, Ingushetia is developing tourism, but in other directions, without focusing on its towers: they offer skiing, waterfalls and panoramas. But all this is not unique, unlike towers.

You can talk about Dagestan endlessly, we even dedicated a whole festival to it. To begin with, there is no such nationality as the Dagestan. At least three dozen different peoples live in the republic, who have their own languages, culture and rich history. There are many national regions in the republic that differ from each other approximately like Serbs from Croats and Macedonians from Albanians. Traveling in Dagestan, you will soon begin to wonder how they can be confused at all. Also, various crafts are widespread among them, for example, Untsukul wood notch, Tabasaran carpet weaving, Kubachi forges. In addition, there are villages with tightrope walkers, villages with winemakers and so on.


The main thing is not to bother because of a pile of garbage. In one place it lies, and in dozens of others - no


Moreover, Dagestan is not at all dangerous. Now is the best time to see him, because there they are still surprised by the tourists and joyfully ask where you are from. There you can spend the night in almost any rural house. Dagestan and Caucasian hospitality really is what they say about it. They are fed there until you fit in the door and pray for mercy. The portions are huge, and besides, everything is delicious.

Wikipedia says that over 90% of the population in Dagestan is Muslim. It may be that according to statistics, but in fact a secular republic, different cultures are mixed in it. For example, in Makhachkala or in Derbent, you can meet a girl in a hijab and a girl in a skirt above the knee. And all the newfangled trends such as hipsters are also represented in Dagestan. I will not be surprised if in five years "Life around Makhachkala" appears.

As for the Guam gorge in the Krasnodar Territory, it is corny beautiful. This is a poppin place where the whole Rostov region and Krasnodar Territory go on vacation. Plus, there is the famous narrow gauge railway, to which, by the way, was the first exit of the Unknown Russia group. We did not plan to earn money on trips, we just really wanted to go to a narrow gauge railway, but there was no money. And if you share the costs with someone, you can rent a whole train. We gathered 22 people for the first exit, the departure went like clockwork, and then they went one after another.

By the way, in all trips we eat so that through eating we understand the place. If we are in a national republic, then we go to a national institution. If not, then we are looking for a tasty place with a twist. In addition, in the supermarket we always choose only local products.

Top 11 dishes from "Unknown Russia"

1. Dried Adyghe cheese

2. Beshbarmak (made in Bashkiria, Tatarstan, Astrakhan region)

3. Dargin Khinkal

4. Coffee with urbec (made in Dagestan)

5. Miracle with pumpkin (made in Dagestan)

6. Cur (they make in Kalmykia, stuff the sheep’s meat into its own intestines, dig it in a shallow place, and make a bonfire on top for a day)

7. Bear paw in Mordovia

8. Ossetian pies

9. Tatar Baursak

10. Perm little eaters

11. Chechen Siskal

Initially, "Unknown Russia" was a film project that resulted in one film about Buryatia, after which the sponsors refused to cooperate. In the group on VKontakte, we planned to tell how the shootings are going, and sometimes about unknown facts on the subject of the film. But over time, the public turned into a stream about unusual and little-known places, phenomena, facts and people of Russia. We also continue to make films, and in the autumn we will release a film about Adygea.

What you need to start traveling around Russia

If you travel a lot abroad and do not travel around Russia, because there’s nothing to see in “shitty Raska, and there are only Khrushchevs, barracks and devastation”, then you need to defeat snobbery in yourself. Be open to new things and read in advance about the place you are going to. If you walk around conditional Ryazan with contempt because you see heaps of garbage, it means that you are not traveling in Russia like that. In Ryazan, in any house, you can find a cool grandfather-harmonist and other interesting people. For example, Joseph Pyatunin is a weigher who, since the 90s, at any time of the year sits in the same place in the city center with medical lever scales and weighs passers-by for several rubles. He makes jokes for all his clients, he has his own weight scale: the weight of a dried grasshopper, a Leningrad sparrow, and so on. Moreover, he officially works as an IPS specialist and pays taxes.

Traveling is primarily people. This is not about those people who are friendly, show the way and accept well, but about those who do something interesting in their region. Go to the national theater, try the local cuisine. The more you learn, the more interesting it will be.

In Russia, there is a scheme for moving away from hiking trails. Unfortunately, the cities of Central Russia offer the same thing. Church, recreation center, pedestrian street with tourist cranberries, the same souvenirs. Therefore, if you come to the regional center, then take a tram, go to the final stop and walk. Read local newspapers, look for cultural events and local punk bands that are now everywhere. Try local beer, after all. There are enough regions in Russia where you can just look around and get high. The main thing is not to bother because of a pile of garbage. In one place it lies, but in dozens of others it does not.


"No matter how you relate to Ramzan Kadyrov, it will not affect him in any way that you will not go to Chechnya in protest"


I’ll give you an example of Chechnya, which is known among readers of Life around as a radical Muslim republic, where a visitor will be slaughtered for shorts, where women cannot utter a word, where homosexuals and other horrors are oppressed. But when traveling to Chechnya, this is absolutely unimportant. If you go to look at the republic with a neutral look, you will discover a lot of new things and get high. Politics is politics, and Chechnya was, is and remains a republic of people passionate about their affairs. For example, Adam Satuev lives there, a grandfather who collects ancient things and through them tells the history of the republic. Or local blacksmiths who, for any structure, will forge their products and receive guests. And no matter how you relate to Ramzan Kadyrov, he will not be affected in any way that you will not go to Chechnya in protest.

In general, aesthetics can be in ****** on the outskirts, and in the center, and on the dish that you are served in the cafe. The sleeping area, in which there is a carpet of fallen yellow-red leaves on the lawn, is also aesthetics. Or seals in ****** on the outskirts. In general, ***** remote areas and the center are equally interesting to me.

You can get almost anywhere. Somewhere you need to apply for a pass for a month, somewhere for a week, but you can agree with everyone. Where we have not been! At the KamAZ plant, on the territory of the military unit, as well as at many other industrial and sensitive facilities: dams, hydroelectric power stations and nuclear power plants. Although it’s still not possible to get to the Justas Walker farm in the Altai Territory. Justas is a hilarious American milkman who said, "May your cheese not be!" Now tourists are not interested in him, because he is looking for people who want to work on the land. But we continue to negotiate and, I hope, we will agree.

"Unknown Russia" in Moscow and Moscow Region

There is much more unknown in Moscow than in any Russian region. We position ourselves as ethnographers, that is, we study people, and probably 20 million people live in Moscow who make interesting things.

In December 2017, we had a trip around Moscow, and we hooked ten percent of what we could include in the program. We were on unfinished on Tsvetnoy Boulevard, settled in a capsule hotel, watched the backstage of Ostankino, where they filmed Good night, kids! and "Evening Urgant." We went to the Apple Museum of Technology, in a cool anticafe, had dinner with products from the Vkusville store, which is also part of Moscow ethnography.

On the second day, we went to the museum station near the Red Baltiets platform of the Riga direction, to the Petrovsko-Razumovskaya station, because it has a famous story that can be easily found on Lurka. We were at the Moscow market, in the Krishna temple, as well as at the Vvedensky cemetery, where people leave inscriptions asking God. And they lived in one of the best hostels in the country at that time (he has a score of 9.6 based on 600 with some reviews). We also spent the night in Moscow City, climbed the underground communications of Moscow, dined in the Stuffing and the Karavaev Brothers.


In Central Russia, thousands of temples, each of which claims to be a tourist attraction. As a rule, our cities do not have a local chip. More precisely, it is, but it is unknown


Much more remains unrealized. Moscow is the coolest city, I hope that trips here will be regular. But this year, due to a lack of participants, it had to be canceled. The fact is that for Muscovites we have an important condition: they must spend the night with us. Because only then they will get the effect of traveling around their own city.

In the suburbs, I would single out Dmitrov, where car crash tests take place, as well as Zhukovsky, where in the local museum is a real simulator for airplane pilots. It is also worth visiting the Syanovsky quarries, the huge mountain of phosphogypsum in Voskresensk, the Kolomensky Tram, the Famine Pyramid and Herman Sterligov's estate. Sterligov, of course, the dude is ambiguous, but the place is interesting.

We write about all these places in our group. We find topics for posts on the Internet: we consistently study all cities and regions of the country. 80% of the information is on Wikipedia, it’s just pages that are hardly visited. We also read bloggers because they have visited wherever possible. Bloggers hold most of our content. The rest is our travels. The places we are writing about are not unusual, they are simply known only locally in their and neighboring regions. And we write the texts either ourselves or directly quote a source, such as a blogger.

Why do Russians prefer to relax not in Russia, but in Europe

Europe is more understandable to us than Russia. It has a friendlier interface, they earn money from tourists, there are visiting centers everywhere, handing out guides, everywhere signs in several languages, QR codes, good guides work and so on. Plus, when you arrive there, you know in advance what you want to see. Everything is clear and known. Secondly, even taking into account the constant collapse of the ruble in Europe, it is still cheaper to travel. There are higher tourist flows, therefore, prices are lower.

Another reason is the architectural poverty of our country. In Moscow, the Moscow region and neighboring regions there are many old preserved cities. Some of them have not been restored at all, some are the other way around, but they all offer the same thing. All tourist routes pass through temples. In Central Russia, thousands of temples, each of which claims to be a tourist attraction. As a rule, our cities do not have a local chip. More precisely, it is, but it is unknown. Well, the fourth reason for the unpopularity of tourism in Russia is not the best information background in the country.


Cover:Litvyak Igor / Photobank Lori

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