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What to see in ‘Little Moscow’ | Updated: 2018-12-21 14:04

Harbin, often referred to as Little Moscow, is China's northernmost major city and capital of this most northerly Heilongjiang province. Historically, the city has had a lot of Russian influence, in particular after the Russian Civil War of 1918. The influence remains clearly visible in the building styles and foods. Additionally, Harbin is gaining increasing popularity due to its rich winter artificial ice and snow landscapes and activities.

The Sun Island scenic area

The Sun Island scenic area is located on the north bank of Songhua River, which is surrounded by swamps. It is the only wetland scenic area located in the center of the city, covering an area of 38 square kilometers.

It has been designated a "National Scenic Area", a 5A scenic spot and a State water recreation destination. It has also been granted the China Habitat Environment Award and named by the Council of the United Nations as a Model United Nations FOUN Ecological Island.

Its unique natural beauty and romantic northern European style are well known. The newly-constructed Yu Zhixue Museum, Russian art galleries, North China Fine Arts Museum, Museum of Art Sun Island, Harbin Ice and Snow Culture Exhibition and Sun Island Russian painting art exchange base for visitors, brings out the cultural charms of the city. In winter, the annual China Harbin Sun Island Snow Sculpture Art Expo is held on Sun Island. Many domestic and international snow sculpture competitions take place there. Activities include dog sledding, a snow slide ring, snow bikes, and snowmobiles.

Yabuli Ski Resort

Yabuli Ski Resort, 25 kilometers southeast of Yabuli town, Shangzhi, a county-level city, is one of the largest ski resorts in China. Founded in 1980, the resort is affiliated with the Heilongjiang Provincial Sports Commission and consists of five arenas and training venues for alpine, freestyle, cross-country and winter skiing and ski jumping. It also has two ski resorts for tourists. The center of the ski resort is divided into two major areas: Yabuli ski arena, which hosts international and domestic competitions but is also available for skiers at middle and senior levels, and the Windmill Ski Resort, which is available for skiers of different levels for casual or competitive use. Yabuli Ski Resort has hosted several national and international competitions, including the fifth and seventh National Winter Games, and the 3rd Asian Winter Games. It's also the permanent site of the annual meeting of the China Entrepreneurs Forum, which is known as "China's Davos".

In 2001 the resort was listed as a national 4A-level scenic spot.

St. Sophia Church

St. Sophia Church is the best-preserved example of Byzantine architecture in China. It was built in 1907 and was once the biggest church made of brick and wood in the Far East. It is a combination of all kinds of architectural styles with a Russian dome and Roman clerestory. The church is 53.25-meters high, and has a total construction area of 721 square meters. It can accommodate up to 2,000 people. In November 1996, the State Council listed it in the fourth batch of Key National Heritage Conservation Units. In 2007, it was selected as a national 4A-level scenic site.

Central Avenue

Central Avenue was first constructed in 1898, and later became a bustling commercial street. Starting at Flood Control Memorial Tower near Songhua River in the north and running 1,450 meters to Jingwei Street in the south, the road plays host to 71 European-style buildings, and 13 baroque, eclectic and modern buildings. Structures along Central Avenue cover four influential schools in the history of Western architecture and showcase the cultural development of Europe over the past 300 years. Walking along Central Avenue, one seems to have entered a different land, with a street that pays homage to many different cultures and styles.

Harbin Polarland

Harbin Polarland is the world's first performing polar animal park and one of the three major attractions of Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival. In 2009, the museum was named a national 4A-level tourism scenic spot and voted an Outstanding Global Attraction by the world's largest travel website, TripAdvisor. In addition to the fixed attractions, there are seven themed performances at the museum, including shows with beluga, sea lions, walruses, polar bears, and penguins.

Siberian Tiger Park

Covering an area of 1.44 square kilometers, the Siberian Tiger Park is located to the north of Songhua River.

The park is a protection area for rare animals and aims to allow the tigers to enjoy an environment as close as possible to what they would experience in the wild. It is also good for sightseeing, scientific research and as a location for a daytrip. It is the world's largest Siberian tiger breeding center and home for an endangered animal. It is home to more than 120 adult tigers, as well as cubs, deers and bears, as well as a science center and observation zone.

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