Most people visit China’s Inner Mongolia autonomous region to take in the endless steppes and large lakes. But amidst these stunning landscapes, visitors can also find a quasi-Russian fantasy.
In Manzhouli, a city near the border of China and Russia, one of the main attractions is Matryoshka Square (also known as Russian Taowa Square), where you can lose yourself among hundreds of giant matryoshka dolls, or Russian nesting dolls. In one section, dolls painted with the faces of Vladimir Lenin and Nelson Mandela are situated beside each other. The especially large red and yellow matryoshka doll at the center of the square measures nearly 100 feet (30 meters) tall, and is actually a hotel open for business.
For those with matryoshka fever, lines of shops selling standard-sized matryoshka dolls, keychains, and and other souvenirs are at your disposal. The square also has other whimsical buildings painted in bright colours that resemble iconic Russian landmarks such as St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. There is also a Russian circus in the square.
Manzhouli, sees itself as the crossroads between the cultures of China, Mongolia, and Russia. It is located about 1,000 miles (1,700 kilometers) from Beijing, but the border to Russia is only 15 minutes by car from the city center.
Know Before You Go
Some of the square is still under construction. To visit the Russian Circus, inquire in advance as they are not open every day.