When Anton Chekhov visited Krasnoyarsk on his way to Sakhalin in 1890, he was surprised to find 'a picturesque, cultured town' where 'the streets are clean and paved, the houses are of stone and large, the churches are elegant'. Chekhov even claimed he could easily live in this city and couldn't think why this was a favourite place for sending exiles to. Once a Cossack stronghold on the edge of the known world, Krasnoyarsk has transformed into a boomtown with the discovery of gold and the construction of the Trans-Siberian railway which connected it with Moscow and St Petersburg. By the end of the 19th century it became the largest city in Siberia, and its unofficial capital.
But despite the fact that Krasnoyarsk is a big metropolis with a population of over one million people, it still feels like nature is very much present in this urban environment. The never freezing River Yenisei gently flows through the city producing massive clouds of steam in winter. Immediately beyond the river are the rolling hills covered with pine trees. It's a popular ski resort among locals during the winter, and a hiking trail in summer, thanks to the fantastic granite rock formations known as the Krasnoyarsk pillars.