St. Sophia Cathedral in Harbin is the largest Eastern Orthodox Church in the Far East. It is 53.3 meters (175 feet) high and occupies an area of 721 square meters (0.18 acres). In November, 1996, it was listed as one of the Key Cultural Relics under State Protection. Half a year later, the city government repaired it and renamed it as Harbin Art Gallery. It is a respectable landmark for Harbiners and for tourism. The St. Sophia Cathedral has a complex history. Shortly after the Boxer Rebellion (1899-1901), the Russian built the church of timber in March, 1907. Then, the Russian rebuilt it using masonry and timber four years later. The onset of a second reconstruction by Russian was marked on September 23rd, 1923, and a ceremony was held to celebrate laying the corner stone. It was completed on November 25th, 1932, after nine years, and was hailed as a monumental work of art. The Byzantine style church is so beautiful, it is said to look as if it had been made by God's hands. In fact, St. Sophia means 'God's wisdom'. Having a Latin cross footprint, the church's original shape was preserved during reconstruction. The St. Sophia Cathedral has four floors and is accessible by a door on each side.
Known as the 'Eastern Moscow', Harbin has always been regarded as a unique and exotic city. The most exotic place in Harbin is Central Street, known as Zhongyang Dajie in Chinese. As a new comer to this city without any idea of where to go, be sure to start your journey at 'Central Street'. This long corridor of European architectural art is the pride of every local in this city. It provides an enthralling destination which abounds with history, attracting tourists from home and abroad. Nowadays, with a total length of 1,450 meters (1,586 yards), the Central Street reflects a variety of European style buildings. In total, there are 71 works, some of which are replicas reflecting the European style of architecture. Examples of the Renaissance through to the Baroque Period as well as the Eclecticism to the Modern School can be seen in 13 of these buildings.
Being famous both home and abroad, the Taiyang Dao Scenic Area lies on the north bank of the Songhua River in Harbin City. This dainty area, surrounded by blue water, boasts crystal lakes, wooden rockeries, beautiful flowers and exotic buildings. In summer, the comfortable weather makes it the first choice to avoid summer heat, and in winter, the spot is a paradise for ice-snow travel. Every year, the Harbin International Snow Sculpture Art Expo held here exhibits enthralling ice or snow sculptures and architectures, attracting thousands of visitor. Covering an area of 3,800 hectares (9,390 acres), Taiyang Dao Scenic Area consists of the Sun Island and some other small islands. The area, with more than twenty scenic spots, can be divided into three parts. Animals' world is located in the north and west. The centre of the garden is featured by flowers, lakes and ice-snow beauty. And in the south, ice and snow series, exotic Russian series, a gallery and a memorial garden can be found. The amazing Sun Gate is composed of five white ellipse gates, with four small gates on the sides and a big one in the center. In front of the gate lies the symbol of the scenery-a tremendous stone named the Sun Stone.
Covering an area of 16,000 square meters (1.6 Hectares), Harbin Polarland is the first polar land themed park combining animal shows, polar land sights and an interactive experience into one. It is located at the famous scenic site in this city – Taiyang Dao. Based on the mysterious polar region and using design ideas from an advanced theme park, the park is ready to offer every visitor a wondrous, dreamy and happy round-the-world journey which is told as stories or scenarios. Harbin Polarland is mainly composed of "Daxing'an Mountain", "Fisherman's Wharf", "Whale's Bay", "South Pole Penguin's Island", "North Pole Animal's Home", "Happy Sea Lion's Kingdom" and other tourist attractions. Over 10,000 pole ocean animals belonging to over 600 kinds from the world gather here and actively interact with visitors.
First set-up by the Harbin Municipal Government in 1999, Harbin Ice and Snow World is by far the largest ice and snow art exhibition in the world. It is commonly referred to as possessing four of the key 'mosts': the most art attractions, the most beautiful night views, the most recreational activities and the most forms of entertainment. Furthermore, the festival is constantly evolving and each year brings with it a new theme, providing visitors with a totally unique experience from one year to the next. The ice carvings at the Harbin Ice and Snow World are regarded as some of the world's finest examples of ice art, with visitors able to admire some of the largest and most majestic ice-sculpted masterpieces. Each of these ice carvings is designed in some way related to the festival's theme, enabling travelers to sample a variety of cultural flavors. For example, in its first year the festival's layout was designed around the idea of 'Prosperous China and High-flying Longjiang', with the ice carvings depicting the rapid development of the country. In 2005, the theme was 'Friendship between China and Russia', with all the sculptures fashioned in a typical Russian style. Among them were replicas of some of Russia's most famous architecture, such as the East Palace, and Moscow's Red Square. One of the highlights for any visitor to the festival is to visit the site at night when multicolored lights set underground illuminate the sculptures, revealing a whole new colorful dimension to the exhibits. The contrasts of the bright and dazzling lights against the dark night sky make the works look all the more spectacular.