Enjoy nature in the heart of Moscow

Did you know that Moscow has the only national nature reserve in Europe located in a city with more than a million inhabitants?

Elk Island straddles the boundary between Moscow proper and the suburbs of the north-west of the city. And it’s home to an amazing variety of animal and plant life for visitors to enjoy throughout the year.

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Here, you’ll find more than 200 different species of animal, many of them hiding away in the depths of the forest – such fascinating and elusive creatures as dappled deer, roe deer, elk and wild boar. Beavers and otters live along the riverbanks, sharing this fascinating habitat with rare types of birds such as pheasant, grey partridge and egret.

The park's richest asset is the woodland that makes up 85 per cent of its area. An area that’s particularly worth visiting is the Alexeev Copse, where you’ll find pine-trees that are up to 200 years old and spruces up to 170 years old. The Copse lies along the old road through Elk Island which once linked Moscow to the towns of Suzdal and Vladimir.

Historic documents tell us that Elk Island was a favourite place where Ivan the Terrible used to enjoy falconry and bear-hunting. The name Elk Island was recorded in the early 17th century, when documents say that the place was used for hunting ‘all manner of game birds, and especially elk’. But around the turn of the century, documents were issued banning hunting around Moscow, without exception. Punishments for disobeying these edicts included hefty fines and banishment to far-flung regions of Russia.

Organised forestry on Elk Island began in 1842, when fire-breaks were cut through, dividing the area up into separate sections. In 1983, Elk Island was declared a state national nature park.

If you’d like to visit Elk Island for yourself, the nearest metro station to the park is Ulitsa Podbelskovo. It can also be reached from Sokolniki Metro Station via the park of the same name. And of course, for all your travel arrangements to and from Moscow, and accommodation when you’re staying in this wonderful city, there’s only one place to go – RNTO. Visit the website today!