Conservation Parks: The Best of the Best
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With the passage of time it has become increasingly common in cities like Moscow to designate areas of flora and fauna as conservation areas enclosed with tall fences, in order to literally save them from the big city. But this also creates attractive areas for tourists to visit, offering eco-centre facilities, games and even traditional housekeeping classes along with fresh air, green spaces and relaxation.
As a result of the hard work and support of many people, one huge conservation park still exists within the city. It is called ‘Elk’s Island’ (Losiny Ostrov), as elks live there in their natural habitat, along with squirrels and peckers. The park seems endless, and is regarded by many as the biggest conservation park in Europe; it is certainly a secluded and leafy one. With more than 50 species of animals, and 170 types of birds inhabiting the park, nature really thrives here.
Even though it seems silent and untouched, it is not forgotten by tourists, who are invited to join special classes about Russian tea habits, etc. The most popular destination within the park of 12 thousand hectares is the elk eco-station. Visits last for 45 minutes, and times are linked to the elks’ feeding schedule.
As with many things in Moscow, The Tsytsin Main Moscow Botanical Garden of Academy of Sciences is huge and diverse. It too competes for the status of being the biggest botanical garden in Europe.
Plant lovers can spend their days observing more than 8,000 species of plants and trees. A visit to the rosarium and the special exhibition of Russian natural landscapes will be remembered by visitors for their beauty and great variety. The Botanical Garden also borders the VDNH exhibition center, and it is lovely to combine these huge city sights on the same day.
Even though the activity of people is generally limited in national and conservation park green zones, some, like Serebryany Bor, are still well known for their tourist facilities. This park contains beaches (including one for nude sunbathing), as well as eating spots, including the so called ‘Picnic Valley.’ Running, walking and jogging (but not driving) are popular activities here.
So why is it still called ‘a memorial to nature?’ Well, some of the trees in the park are more than 200 years old, and its reed swamp is the only one within the Moscow region.
The Tsaritsyno Museum and conservation park in southern Moscow offers something for everyone. Green zone, wooded areas, national museum and greenhouses? Tick.
Picturesque palaces and pergolas? Here they are! Their styles are different, but original, and will appeal to architecture buffs with their elements of Old Russian, western European Middle Ages and the Renaissance period. A special musical fountain that is lit up in color, as well as history-oriented exhibition pavilions are other popular attractions. Though it is officially a green conservation park, its main theme is Russian history in architecture, archeology and the arts.
There are also those who come here to play badminton in the morning. If you’re looking for something else to fill the time, electrocar tours are available, and classes, exhibitions and concerts are held regularly. Unfortunately this does mean that it is very crowded at times. We advise visiting in the morning, and traveling by metro (the parking area is not big enough and it is a challenge to park near almost any of the big parks in the city).