NTD Television: World's Largest Nation, Seen in Miniature
In a quiet street not far from the city centre of St Petersburg, an ambitious project is taking shape. Master model-makers are re-creating the Russian landmass, in miniature, from Kaliningrad in the west to Kamchatka in the east.
The world's largest nation has been scaled down to an 800-square-meter model, still under construction, but already on show to the public, who are allowed to visit one day each week.
The 'Grandmaket,' Russian for 'Grand Model', is a model on a 1:87 scale, designed with a big vision.
It depicts Russia's vast natural landscape, including lakes, rivers, mountains and forests, as well as its major cities, railways and historical monuments.
One of St. Petersburg's best-known landmarks, the Peter and Paul Fortress, is represented in miniature, complete with chiming bells in its spire and the sound of its midday cannon.
Much of the model presents a somewhat idealized view of Russia – there are no traffic jams in the capital Moscow and there is no litter in the countryside.
'Grandmaket' aims to give a recognizable picture of Russia, not a true-to-life copy, says project founder, Sergei Morozov, who reportedly had the idea for the model as a way of entertaining his young son.
[Sergei Morozov, Grandmaket Founder]:
"We are presenting an image of the Russian Federation. We use several key buildings, key landmarks, key features of the landscape, characteristic places."
Cars and trucks drive around the roads in perfect harmony, observing traffic regulations – a far cry from the congested reality of the roads in major cities such as Moscow and St Petersburg.
The trains which crisscross its terrain are programmed by computer and are never late, assures Alexei Linkov who controls the network from his laptop in a corner office.
But the model does offer a wealth of detail of everyday life in modern Russia, from police searching the owner of an expensive 4x4 jeep to firemen tackling forest fires. The model is programmed to show a fire starting every ten minutes, but stops short of reproducing the smog which engulfed swathes of Russia last summer.
[Natalyia Petrunova, Visitor]:
"From west to east, it's very interesting to look at, especially those parts where everything is moving, where it's dynamic – it's great!"
More than 100 craftspeople, electronic engineers and modeling artists have been employed to help build Russia, the model nation. Work has so far taken four years and the model is scheduled to complete by the end of this year.