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Vladivostok, the capital of the Primorsky Kray (Primorye or Maritime Territory) is one of the most beautiful cities in Russia. Home base to the Russian Pacific Fleet, the city was closed to all foreigners from 1958 until 1991. Modern Vladivostok is looking to develop rapidly as Russias money-making, fast-spending, high-living commercial and financial center. Businesses from all over the world have flooded in to take advantage of the city's position as a crossroads of Northeast Asia.

As one of only four major seaports, with extensive fishing rights, it also has tremendous potential for economic growth. Vladivostok is Russia's window to Asia, as it is located less than 100km east of the Chinese border, and just across the Sea of Japan from the main Japanese island of Honshu. Vladivostok's unique geographical location is of great interest to developers of international and domestic trade.

Vladivostok is now one of the most important regional centers in Russia. The city receives visitors from all over the world, hoping to find here unforgettable impressions and new business partners.

Read:Vladivostok Heads Gourmet Tourism in Russia

Points of interest

After Vladivostok was founded in 1860, the city's infrastructure began to take form. Wood clearings at which some boats cast anchor soon became streets and got their names from those boats. That is why we have Svetlanskaya, Aleutskaya, Abrekovskaya and Gaidamak Gardens.

One of the most breathtaking streets in the city is Svetlanskaya Street that houses a great number of old buildings and museums. Most of the citys historic sites are clustered on this street, the original name of which was American Street. Many buildings on Svetlanskaya Street used to belong to foreign businessmen and diplomats. In 1873 the street was renamed for Svetlanskaya, the name of the fregate "Svetlana", board of which the Grand Duke of the Russian Empire visited the city.

Svetlanskaya, 11. Owned by the local architect V.K. Goldenstedt, the building served as one of Vladivostoks best hotels. The building seems severe, but the facade is beautifully embellished with decorative bricks and peaked Gothic-style towers.

Svetlanskaya, 12. The two-storeyed building, originally built as an affiliate of the Russian-Chinese Bank, meet the requirements of both majestic beauty and business efficiency. The building also housed diverse enterprises, for example, the City Public Bank. After recent reconstruction, the cafe Russian tea was followed by the restaurant featuring Russian cuisine.

Just after its foundation in 1860 Vladivostok started to trade a lot with Japanese, Chinese and US cities, notably Yokohama, Shanghai and San Francisco. It became a free port, and by the year 1870 Vladivostok had a population of 1,000 people, including a number of highly respected foreign residents, notably diplomats and merchants. Korean expatriates settled a quarter inland from Cape Burny, quaint Japanese and Chinese houses nestled to Semenovsky Inlet (now Sportivnaya Gavan) and later formed what is now called the Chinatown.

You should visit GUM, Vladivostok's oldest department store, which was originally the property of de Frieze, a Dutchman merchant. The store which immediately became the city's landmark was set up by two German businessmen, Gustav Kunst and Adolf Albers. A truly encyclopedic store by any standard, the Kunst and Albers Trading House could offer anything from a pin to a stuffed tiger. Formerly, Vladivostok ended at Poslednaya Ulitsa, or "The Last Street", bordering on Pokrovskoye Churchyard, which later became a recreational park. Nowadays it is again becoming a memorial area. The old Pokrovsky Cathedral, destroyed by militant atheists in the 1930s, is presently under reconstruction.

The city is believed to go through a revival of faith. A Protestant church, which was home to Pacific Fleet's Military Museum for many decades, has been returned to the local Lutheran community. The Roman Catholic Church, which for many years housed the official archives, again holds masses to the sound of a grand organ. The Orthodox St Nicholas Church is being renovated and a new Methodist Church has been built.

Academic Quarter with a number of research institutes appeared over 30 years ago in a suburban area of Vladivostok, called the Green Belt. Institutes of Oceanic Studies, Biochemistry and Automation are considered to be the most important. Botanical Gardens featuring a unique diversity of northern and southern plants are also located in the Academic Quarter.

If you arrive in Vladivostok by road, the first thing youll see in the city is a 30ft bronze seaman waving his hand in salute. If, on the other hand, you arrive in Vladivostok by rail, it means that you have traveled the world's longest railway, the Trans-Siberian. Although, it is also the shortest route between the Pacific and Europe.

The region is also famous for its health resorts. Ocean, an international resort for children and teenagers, sprang up on the western shore of Ussuriisky Bay, in Emar Inlet. Terraces of white marble descend to the edge of the picturesque inlet. Nice little inlets best accessible from the sea lie both sides of Emar, and the nearby shallow sandy Lazurnaya Bay is the favorite summertime place of the locals.

There are a number of summer camps, resort hotels and health resorts famous for their comfort and calmness in the region.

Vladivostok has more than 130 monuments and memorial buildings, which can be related to the citys cultural heritage.. The earliest monument, dedicated to Admiral Nevelskoi, was erected in 1897, and the last monument commemorating the heroic deeds of Russian border guards was unveiled in 1997. Marine Cemetery has a fine memorial area, with a monument to the cruiser Varyag, a symbol of Russian seamen's heroism in the Russo-Japanese war. A wooden statue of three dolphins near the Seamen's Assembly hall commemorates another kind of courage and human greatness. A Canadian sculptor represented in wood the gratitude of dolphins that were saved by Russian seamen from their ice-bound prison in the Northern Pacific.

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