London has long and historic links with Russia since Tsarist times. Even now thousands of Russian expats live and work in London, along with Russian students studying in London, and much more visit the city as tourists and for business purposes.
While Russians blend in seamlessly with the local Londoners, they retain their own distinct identity and cultural influences, which are visible across several parts of London. If you are planning a trip to London and interested in learning more about Russian cultural landmarks and links in the city, there are quite many places found in central London.
If you are looking for a suitable place to stay on your trip, staying in accommodation at Paddington London would be ideal as it is close to the Russian landmarks in the city.
The Park Grand Paddington Hotel offers excellent value for money and the best of facilities and luxury expected from a boutique hotel. It also offers easy access to the best Russian cultural hotspots in London.
Russians value cultural get-togethers and events immensely as ways to commemorate and celebrate their culture away from home. It also helps to bring Russian expats and visitors together and forges a strong bond linked to their roots.
Dormition Cathedral: The Russian Orthodox Dormition Cathedral is located in Ennismore Gardens in trendy Knightsbridge. This majestic cathedral has regular religious services within its beautiful chapel filled with Russian religious icons and symbolism.
Take a stroll of Bayswater Road and you will find a large eagle made of white plaster built to commemorate Alexander Is visit in 1914, and serves as a monument of the British–Russian alliance formed against Napoleon earlier. A little further around the corner is the Russian Embassy close to Kensington Palace Gardens. An interesting fact is rent paid by the Russian Embassy is a token sum of £1 annually, with the British Embassy in Moscow similarly paying an annual rent of one rouble.
If you drop into Queensway Market pay a visit to the popular Samovar Café renowned for its traditional Russian borshch (beetroot soup) and fine teas. A number of kiosks in the neighbourhood sell Russian DVDs and literature and if you are up to it you can even drop in for a Russian haircut! Also in the area is the oldest Russian shop in London Kalinka!
Atkis Gallery: A gallery of modern art it specialises in the art of 20th century Paris and the many artists who evolved from the period. But it also features a fine collection of other Russian artists like Marie Vassilieff, a painter from the Tsarist times. She relocated to Paris in her youth and became an integral part of the art scene in Montparnasse. Also featured in the gallery are non-conformist Russian artists like Dmitry Krasnopevtcev, Boris Sveshnikov and Vladimir Yankilevsky etc. Keep an eye out on the gallery website as exhibitions and events tend to change frequently. It is located at the St. James area and a short stroll from Buckingham Palace.
Calvert 22: The Calvert 22 Foundation promotes and supports sharing of the contemporary culture of Eastern Europe, specifically that of the Russian Federation. It showcases the art and cultural achievements of this region with an aim to popularise and promote understanding with the people of Western Europe.
A non-profit entity is hosts a slew of screenings, exhibitions, talks and other events that form part of its annual schedule. They also partner with institutions across the world and with local venues to offer the best shows and exhibitions in London and around the world. The current event on display up to 17 December 2017 is Dmitri Prigov, Theatre of Revolutionary Action. It is the first of its kind solo exhibition done posthumously in the country, which showcases the creations of this multi-faceted artist, poet, performer and vanguard of conceptualism in Moscow.
Russian Orthodox Church: There is the Russian Orthodox Church located in the Chiswick area on Harvard Road. Dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and the Holy Royal Martyrs, visitors can attend its religious services on Saturday evenings and on Sunday mornings. As the services are in Russian you need to brush up on your Russian first.
Chiswick House: Another great spot to visit in the area nearby is Chiswick House that is a renowned attraction in its own right. Apart from its exceptional collection of artworks, it also is of interest for Russophiles, considering the home once played host to Tsar Nicholas I in a large summer celebration.
The majestic edifice found at 152 King’s Road in the Chelsea and Fulham district was formerly a dance academy run by ballerina Serafina Astafieva. She performed in the Ballets Russes and was the grandniece of Leo Tolstoy. Among the many famous pupils of her academy were Alicia Markova and Margot Fonteyn.
Russian fashion designers in London: There is plenty of Russian fashion found all over London. Apart from the popular London Fashion week where some of the top Russian designers and labels participate, they are a part of the social and fashion scene of the city all through the year. One of the top Russian fashion designers to carve a niche for herself in the city is Lesia Paramonova who markets her products under the brand label LES. Her expert use of prints, designs and colours have made her a hit with the fashionistas of London, with a growing fan base.
Another Russian designer to make a mark for himself on the London fashion scene is Alexander Terekhov, who trained from YSL in Paris. He launched his own line of fashion and has earned a name for himself, designing for top Russian celebrities. His style is a combination of traditional glamour with an urban chic that had made it very popular with fashion followers.
There are plenty more of upcoming fashion designers from Russia in London, with two of the best places to shop for their creations are Harrods and Harvey Nichols department stores in the Knightsbridge neighbourhood of London.