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“Russia – the most beautiful country” photo contest

a close up of an owl

“The most beautiful country” photo contest is the one held by the Russian Geographical Society, uniting the best photographers of Russia. By the way, the first photos of Tibet that brought to National Geographic magazine worldwide fame were taken by the members of the Russian Geographical Society, Gombozha Tsybikov and Ovshé Norzunov.
a couple of people that are standing in the snow

Gombozha Tsybikov, 1899

The first photo contest “The most beautiful country” was held in 2015. 25 thousand photographers from around the world who uploaded about 200 thousand pictures to the project website took part in the contest. The oldest participant in the first Photo Contest was a 98-year-old man, and the youngest participant was only 4 years old.

In just five years of the existence of the contest, participants sent over 440 thousand photos.

This year the contest is also taking place and we want to share with you the pictures that, according to ExploRussia, are the best ones in their nominations.


Photos show the greatness, diversity, and beauty of Russian nature.

The photo is taken in the Altai Mountains. This a very powerful place in Russia, once you visited it you will fell in love with this place for sure!
a close up of a rock mountain

Autumn Valley, Nikolay Stepanenko


The photos reflect unique moments from the life of wild animals in their natural habitat. This funny baby bear is so sweet. And we at ExploRussia like bears very much!
a brown bear standing next to a forest

Reflection in the rain, Adrey Gilyov

3. MACROWorld

In the photos, we can see the complex organization of our world that is invisible with an unaided eye but can be caught by the professional macro cameras. Anatoly is a very talented photographer from Vladimir.
a close up of a flower

Crystal chime, Anatoly Plechisty


The life of underwater inhabitants, dangerous predators and harmless mollusks, unusual angles, underwater landscapes.

a close up of an animal

Lion’s mane jellyfish in the sunset, Andrey Shpatak

Andrey is the photographer from Primorsky Region from the town Dalnegorsk near Vladivostok

This is the largest jellyfish in the world and it lives in the sea of Japan near Vladivostok. The jellyfish dome reaches 2 m, and the tentacles can be up to 20 m in length.


Images showing funny and unusual moments from the life of wild animals.

a close up of an owl

Scops owls, Alexey Levashkin

Alexey is ornithologist from Nizhny Novgorod who, in addition to studying birds, is engaged in birdwatching popularization – makes broadcasts from bird nests, writes articles for National Geographic, has an Instagram page about his activities, with more than 30 thousand subscribers, and organizes field trips for those who want to join the world of birds.


A series of photographs (from 4 to 10 works), united by a common theme. This can be a photo essay on the topic of any of the nominations of the contest: footage from the life of a wild animal, a visual study of a natural phenomenon, etc.

a polar bear lying on top of a body of water

Polar Bears, Maxim Deminov

We could not pass Polar bears as ExploRussia logo is Polar Bear. 

Maxim Deminov is perhaps the only amateur photographer in the north of Chukotka taking  professional photos of polar bears in their natural environment.
a polar bear swimming in a body of water

Polar Bears, Maxim Deminov

We in Russia call Polar bears – White Bears. And did you know that a Polar bear is not white at all!

Many of us believe that polar bears have white fur but in fact, these hairs, like undercoat, are transparent and completely colorless. And they seem white to us because inside each hair there is an air space. The air spaces in the hairs scatter light of all colors of a rainbow. For that reason, we look at polar bears and see the color white.
a polar bear in the snow

Polar Bears, Maxim Deminov

Depending on the season and the location of the sun, the animal’s hair can be not only white, but also yellow or brown.
a group of people swimming in a body of water

Polar Bears, Maxim Deminov

7. Arial view Russia

Panoramic views taken in flight over the boundless Russian landscapes. 

“Scarlet Sails” is an annual festival of school graduates in St Petersburg, held at the end of June. Usually, it takes place on a Saturday night, the closest to the lightest white night in St Petersburg.

From 1968, “Scarlet Sails” was held every year until 1979 when the tradition was stopped for a long time. In 2005, the authorities of St. Petersburg considered it necessary to return this tradition. Since that time, annually at the end of June, a bright pyrotechnic show is organized on the Neva, and Palace Square hosts the show program of famous pop singers.
a boat is docked next to a body of water

Scarlet Sails, Alexandr Golovdinov

The name for the holiday was not chosen by chance: it was in St Petersburg that Alexander Green worked on his most famous book called “Scarlet Sails”. The book is a fairy-tale by Alexander Green about an unshakable faith and an all-conquering, lofty dream. That everyone can do a miracle for a beloved person.

8. Diverse RUSSIA

The diversity of peoples living in Russia, their cultures. Persons, characters, national color, expressed through rituals, life, clothing.

a group of people standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera

Red Piano, Nikolay Zholnin

The photographer is from Murmansk. The photo was made in the Murmansk Regional Art Museum. He saw how the girls from the Russian folk choir during a break had a rest behind a bright red piano and had a chat.

We at ExploRussia like the combination of rich colors, smiles of girls, a classical instrument and Russian traditional folk costumes.


Modern photo compositions repeating archival photographs. On the special page of this nomination, the participants of the Photo Contest were provided with a set of photographs of Russia from the late XIX – first half of the XX century from the archives of the Russian Geographical Society. The Photo Contest accepts modern shots taken in the same place, if possible from the same angle as the corresponding archival photographs. 

We chose the photo of our stunning Moscow! Moscow is a great city and must-visit for everyone!

a bridge over a body of water with a city in the background

Bolshoi Kamenny Bridge and the banks of the Moscow River 2019, Olga Markova

a small boat in a body of water with a city in the background

The same view 1867, Olga Markova


Photos were taken on a smartphone on any of the contest nominations.

There are three things you can watch forever: fire, water, and other people working. But there is one more thing that you can admire forever, it is Lake Baikal ice. Once you see it with your own eyes you will never forget it and this is a true nature miracle! 

a person standing in front of a mountain

 Baikal Ice Cave, Anastasia Ryakovskaya

For more inspiration jump into our article Boost your energy! 7 videos that will inspire you to come to Russia!

All the photos were taken from