Interestingly, this beautiful sea port city was so far from the center of communist rule, when Russia was better known as the Soviet Union, that it was not until 1954 that a leader of the USSR visited this city. I am talking about Nikita Khrushchev, a man who became famous, worldwide, for his eccentric statements and actions. He was the first one to call Vladivostok the “Russian San-Francisco” which in many ways is a fairly accurate comparison.
Like San Francisco, the city of Vladivostok is located on a hilly region surrounded by a bay, in this case the Gold Horn Bay. Visitors who arrive to this city enjoy the spectacular view, which is surprisingly similar to San Francisco.
Vladivostok is also the home port of the Russian Navy’s pacific fleet, and there are hundreds of military ships and submarines located in the Gold Horn Bay. As a result of this, the city of Vladivostok was a closed region for more than 70 years. Vladivostok was city for a military installation, and even Russian citizens wanting to visit relatives, were forbidden to travel to this city without special permits and passes. It was not until the year of 1992 that Vladivostok was officially opened for foreign visitors as well as the rest of the Russian population.
Vladivostok attracts many tourists’ attention not only because of its’ beautiful location, but also for its’ very rich history.There are quite a few historical buildings and monuments still standing that hold the memories of many events from the 1860, when this city was founded, to present day. These historical buildings remember the times when Vladivostok was given a free trade status with the purpose of encouraging foreign trade in 1878. More than 40% of the 4000 residents of the time were foreign nationals which allowed the city to have diversity from the various cultures that traded and resided within the city’s boundaries.
From 1917 to 1922 Vladivostok became a cultural bastion. During the ensuing years, beginning in 1917, Vladivostok became a haven for many Russians trying to escape from the clutches of the new Soviet regime, settling in the port city while retreating to the east together with the White Army. Among them were many Russians, the creative intelligentsia from Moscow and St Petersburg. They established conservatories, theaters, symphony orchestras and art centers in Vladivostok before escaping to countries such as Australia, China, the USA, and other lands after the Bolsheviks, in 1922, achieved victory in the Far East.
This city can still remember the 1930s when the Stalinist repressions began and the transit camps were constructed housing political prisoners from the Western regions of Russia to Kolyma, and to the new camp in Vladivostok.This city remembers when it was Russia’s biggest military port during the cold war and the beginning of “Perestroika.”
Now, Vladivostok is filled with businesses from all over the world coming to take advantage of the city's position as the gate to modern Russia, Japan, China and Korea.