With a population of 1.5 million, Novosibirsk (pronounced nO-vo-see-bEErsk) is the third largest city of Russia (after Moscow and St. Petersburg) and the main city of Siberia. Established in 1893 as the future site of a railroad bridge to cross the great Siberian river Ob while constructing the famous Trans-Siberian Railroad in 1890s - 1900s, it officially became a town in 1903.
From 1893 until 1925, Novosibirsk was called Novonikolayevsk. The original name refers to Nicolas II (Nikolay II Alexandrovich Romanov), the last Emperor and Sovereign of Russia the Great, the Little and the White, the Grand Duke of Finland, the Tsar of Poland, etc. With the beginning of the Soviet history the city got a new name of Novosibirsk ("New Siberia") in 1925.
Novosibirsk has become the chief industrial, business, cultural and academic center of Siberia. It ranks first in the world in the city growth rate. In 1962 Novosibirsk reached a population of one million. At that time it was the youngest city in the world with over a million people. It took Novosibirsk less than 70 years to achieve that milestone, it was even faster than Chicago's growth rate during those times. A record in the Guinness Book has commemorated Novosibirsk as the fastest growing city in the world for reaching the population of 1,000,000 people quicker than any other.
Novosibirsk is the capital of the Siberian Federal District and the seat of the President’s Plenipotentiary.
Manufacturing includes mining equipment, turbines, textiles, chemicals, heavy machine tools, metallurgy production. The city is considered to be the business capital of Siberia, so the largest Siberian banks and the Siberian Stock and Commodity Exchanges are situated here.
Novosibirsk is one of the cultural centres of Russia. The cultural portrait of Novosibirsk is multifarious - architecture and painting, music and theatre, high classics and folklore - all kinds of culture and arts have got the new development here. Novosibirsk boasts opera and ballet companies, philharmonic society and music conservatory, several theaters, museums, and art galleries, and numerous sports facilities.
The Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre of Novosibirsk, one of the most impressive in Russia, was built during the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 and the grand opening took place on May 9, 1945, Victory Day. The Opera and Ballet Theatre, which is often called the Bolshoy Theatre of Siberia, has become the architectural symbol of Novosibirsk - one of the most remarkable buildings in the city. Not only the building is unique, but the troupe of the theatre is outstanding. The brilliant Siberian Ballet and the wonderful Opera companies are known throughout the world.
Each of the 8 city theatres is of high professionalism, has originality and all of them have got their own admires ( Novosibirsk State Academic Theatre "Krasny fakel", the Youth Theatre Globe, the Theate of music,songs and dance "Chaldony", Russian House of Folk Traditions and others).
The Novosibirsk Philharmonic Society is among the best in Russia and in general, according to foreign critics, and it has come to represent the culture of Siberia. The Novosibirsk Philharmonic Society is unique as it is the only one in Russia that has 13 highly professional music groups including The Academic Symphony Orchestra, The Chamber Chorus, The Chamber Music Orchestra and others. The Novosibirsk Music Conservatory’s particular pride is its violin school that has prepared a number of world-class violinists. Novosibirsk is famous for its jazz and folk groups as well.
Novosibirsk Regional Studies Museum, being one of the major museums of Siberia, has a unique collection, which illustrates 150,000 years of Siberian history, and describes the nature, native culture and population from the Paleolithic Period to the modern era. Museum also organizes archaeological and anthropological expeditions and runs educational programmes including lectures and seminars, meetings with famous scientists, folk-festivals, etc.
The city of Novosibirsk is proud of the largest in Siberia Picture Gallery. Its exposition includes more than 6 000 works of art of famous Russian and foreign painters. A real pearl of the exhibition is the collection of N.Rerikh' s pictures, which was presented to the city by the artist's son. The Gallery is also well known for a collection of icons of Moscow and Siberian school.
Novosibirsk is also a scientific and educational center of Siberia, being home of one of Russia's best universities, a large number of institutes and scientific research centers. The Akademgorodok created in Novosibirsk in 1950s was the first in Russia large center of science, established far from Moscow or Leningrad (St.Petersburg) by a group of prominent scientists (Lavrentyev, S. L. Sobolev, S. A. Khristianovich and others). They attracted gifted researchers from the country's western regions to the development of Siberian science.
Today Akademgorodok is the seat for the Siberian Branches of the Academy of Sciences of the Russian Federation, with a unique complex of scientific and research institutes, Academy of Agriculture and Academy of Medicine. Researches and investigations in the field of mathematics and nuclear physics, chemistry and genetics, biology and geology, ecology and philosophy, applied mechanics and hydrodynamics are conducted in the scientific and research institutes of Akademgorodok. You will also have a chance to see the rich collection of the mineralogical museum and visit the Ethnographic Open-Air Museum, where ancient Siberian stone statues are exhibited.
Novosibirsk is the third city in Russia (after Moscow and St. Petersburg) where a subway system was established. The Novosibirsk Metro (subway), opened in 1985, now has two lines and is clean, safe and nicely decorated.
Novosibirsk is famous for its sports. Sibir ice hockey team of Novosibirsk plays in the Kontinental Hockey Leauge. Sibir Novosibirsk football team plays in the Russian First Division. There are two basketball teams that play in the Men’s and the Women’s Russian Basketball Super League. Novosibirsk has numerous sports facilities.
The Zoo of Novosibirsk is a world renowned zoo and a popular tourist attraction to the city. The zoo has over 4000 species of animals, and actively participates in thirty-two different societies for preserving endangered species. On average, around 700,000 people visit the zoo each year.
There are a lot of nice restaurants and cafes in Novosibirsk, which offer excellent traditional Russian food as well as delicious European, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Mexican and other cuisine.
The traditional hospitality of Siberians is well matched by the weather which is a welcome surprise to many visitors. Winters are cold but sunny; summers are short but warm and pleasant.
Novosibirsk is an interesting mix of a big city and provincial town. The monumental central avenue (with Stalinist buildings), squared functionally planned streets, famous University, large railway station, and village-like suburbs, helpful people and reasonable prices – all in one city.
Siberia has been opening up to the West and offers a range of still unexplored experiences and opportunities. As the cultural, scientific and educational center of Siberia, surrounded by picturesque wooded and field areas, Novosibirsk is an excellent place for immersion in the Russian language and culture, and provides many opportunities to experience the hospitality and cordiality Siberians are famed for.