The city of Manzhouli lies on the border of China and Russia in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The city is a fusion of three cultures, but there is one landmark attraction that really features the combination of all three cultures — China, Russian, and Mongolia. It is the Matryoshka Doll Square. The square, the only one of its kind in China, features giant Matryoshka dolls, including the largest one in the world.
The square is also called Taowa Square, because taowa means Matryoshka doll in Chinese. The place's full Chinese name is Eluosi Taowa Guangchang (‘Russian Pottery Doll Square' 俄罗斯陶娃广场 /er-lwor-srr taoww-waa gwung-chung/). The square opened in 2006 and is located in a park between the city center and the border with Russia.
The 3,200-square-meter (34,000-square-foot) square has a host of over 200 oversized Matryoshka dolls, which are also known as nesting dolls. The largest one is 30 meters (100 feet) tall. This massive doll holds the Guinness World Record for the largest Matryoshka doll in the world. Inside of it, there is a Russian cuisine restaurant and a performance hall.
The dolls have a wide variety of figures painted on them in many styles. They have Russian, Chinese, and Mongolian girls painted on the outside of some.
Many of the dolls have portraits of personalities from all walks of life on them. There are sports stars like Michael Jordan. There are esteemed scientists, like Albert Einstein for one. The square also has dolls of political figures from Abraham Lincoln to Vladimir Lenin. The dolls have religious figures, such as Jesus, on them too. Some of the nesting dolls feature popular cartoon characters, such as Nemo and Bruce the shark from the popular children's movie "Finding Nemo." Several of the dolls represent different countries as well.
Besides its collection of impressively large Matryoshka dolls, the square also has several small castles and palaces painted in bright colors. These follies are built in variety of Russian architecture styles. These fairy-tale like structures give the park an exotic feel. There is a large fountain in the square at the base of the largest nesting doll's feet.
On the west side of the square is a Russian art museum with lovely architecture. It has blue walls and a golden dome. This art museum is the first of its kind in Mongolia. Its interior walls feature murals in Russian and European styles. The museum has over 2,000 pieces of art on display from many different eras of Russian history. The museum is closed during the winter, so if you're interested in seeing it you should visit the Matryoshka Doll Square in the summer.
The square is a wonderful place to buy genuine Russian souvenirs. Of course, they sell nesting dolls there, smaller than the giant ones. Many other Russian crafts are for sale in the square.
Matryoshka Doll Square is open all year long and is free to visit. A good time to visit the square is in the late afternoon or evening, so that you can stay and see the light and fountain show that happens in the plaza each night at 9pm.
The easiest way to get to the square is by taxi. The park is near the intersection of Huabu Street and the Outer Ring Road. The square is down the street from the Manzhouli International Convention and Exhibition Center. This whimsical attraction is sure to delight kids and adults alike with its fanciful dolls and buildings.