When you think of Russia, you probably think of beautiful Russian Orthodox churches, the city of Moscow, and the typical image of a fair-skinned, light-haired person.
What if I told you, however, that Russia is a country that hides a lot of cultural diversity underneath its exterior?
Here are three unique Russian republics that you should check out if you want to see an alternative side of this country.
Did you know that Europe’s only Buddhist territory is located in Russia? Kalmykia, a sparsely-populated republic located just north of the Caucasus Mountains in Southern Russia that was originally settled by Asian tribes, features Buddhist monasteries and an Eastern-influenced culture that is completely unique to Europe.
Tartarstan, located about 500 miles east of Moscow in a grassland area, is populated primarily by the Tartar ethnic group. These people primarily practice Islam, and you can see their cultural influence in the republic’s dress and the beautiful mosques dotting cities like Kazan, the capital.
Dagestan is Russia’s biggest melting pot. Located in the extreme south of the country on the Black Sea coast, you’ll find Avars, Dargins, Kumyks, Lezgians, Russians, and other ethnic groups all mixed together here. This has created a fascinating cultural mix that is dominated by the Muslim religion.