Valery Matytsin/TASS
Between Rostov and Taganrog, slightly off the main road, is Tanais, one of Russia’s oldest archaeological open-air museums. An ancient town was built and destroyed several times on this site, beginning in the third century BC. It was a first a Greek town, then Sarmatian, then Italian and Turkish. In 1736, it became a Russian town. The first person to discover the remains of Tanais at the beginning of the nineteenth century was Colonel Ivan Stempkovsky. Archaeological exploration did not begin until 30 years later, but has continued to this day. The ruins of the ancient town cover acres of land and scientists have installed several large-scale models and reconstructions of ancient buildings to help visitors understand them. There is a hut typical of the Meotes people, a Roman bridge, and a Polovets (or Kipchak) sanctuary. Everything found during the archaeological digs - weapons, Greek vases (amphorae), jewellery, clothes, money and scribbled tablets - is sent to the museum collections located right here on site. There are interactive tours for local children and a craft school where they can learn to work with ceramics or do felting. Tourists are allowed to put up tents within the open-air museum.