Soviet Heritage Tourism

During his speech Gianluca Pardelli will unveil many hidden gems and little-known sights scattered around the territory of the former USSR, while delving into the complex geography of Soviet Tours’ itineraries and revealing a few insider tips to help you better understand and discover the overlooked remnants of the so-called Evil Empire.

When travelling around the countries of the bygone USSR and – by extension – the entire former Eastern Bloc, one will sooner or later encounter many a trace of the political structures and cultural dynamics that used to dominate life and society on the other side of the Iron Curtain. Monuments, memorials, public art, architectural shapes, urban landscapes, and forlorn military installations all represent tangible artefacts of a recent and yet distant past. And beyond the material legacy, there is a vast plethora of non-physical relics from a previous era still surviving amongst the hasty transformations engulfing the lands of the East: the sweet memories of the babushkas, the unique atmospheres of the bazaars, that nostalgic feeling permeating the interior design of many households. Because of a widespread tendency of enlightening only certain periods of human history, however, the cultural, architectural, and artistic inheritance of the Soviet Union remains all too often forgotten by most travelers and tour operators, except for a few cliché-focused excursions to a narrow and hackneyed selection of so-called “dark sights”. Gianluca Pardelli and his company Soviet Tours, on the other hand, seeks to deliver an in-depth travel experience across and beyond the countries of the former Eastern Bloc, focusing – almost exclusively – on the tangible and non-tangible legacy of an elapsed system, showing a kaleidoscopic spectrum of diverse facets, and meeting those who lived and endured during those long-gone days.

Gianluca Pardelli


Photographer, Author, Speaker, Tour Leader and Travel Consultant. Covering Russia, Central Asia, Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. Mastermind and puppeteer behind Soviet Tours. I was born and raised in a sunny seaside town in Tuscany. After eternal years gone by in the sweet languor of seemingly endless summers, I moved north to study Slavic Languages in Berlin and Photojournalism in London. I spent the best time of my life travelling and photographing around four continents and more than eighty countries and counting. During my journeys I fell hopelessly in love with the complex geopolitical and cultural heritage of a vanished land that used to be called Soviet Union. After many a trip to almost every corner of the former USSR, I eventually launched my own tour operator, aptly named Soviet Tours, a boutique travel company focused on offbeat destinations in and around the former Eastern Bloc, Africa and the Middle East.

Gianluca Pardelli