Astrakhan (also spelled Astrahan) is an administrative center of Astrakhan oblast of Russia located about 1,430 km southeast of Moscow. The city is standing on the banks of the Volga River close to the area where it flows into the Caspian Sea.
The city is an important railway junction, sea and river port. There is also an airport.
Astrakhan population - 525,000 (2012), land area - 500 sq. km.
The phone code is +7 8512 (851). Postal codes are 414000-414057.
Astrakhan fertile area (the Volga River delta) was the region of Golden Horde and Khazaria states capitals. First written mentioning of Astrakhan settlement was made by travelers in the beginning of the 13th century.
Mongol leader Tamerlane completely destroyed the town in 1395. In 1459-1556, the town was Astrakhan Khanate capital. Archaeologists found the remains of it about 12 km from present Astrakhan.
Russian state Tsar Ivan the Terrible conquered Astrakhan Khanate and its capital city Astrakhan in 1556. The city became the main Russian gate to Orient in the 17th century. It was the place where merchants from Armenia, Persia, India and other counties of the East met.
In the beginning of the 18th century, Russian Tsar Peter the Great built a shipyard in Astrakhan. It was Russia’s main base in its attacks on Persia. Later, in the 18th century, Catherine II gave Astrakhan some important industrial privileges. It became the capital city of Astrakhan guberniya in 1711.
Astrakhan fortification (kremlin) was built at the beginning of the 17th century. Both cathedrals located on kremlin territory were constructed in 1700-1710. The cathedrals were built by Yaroslavl architects with a lot of traditional Russian church architecture features. The exterior decoration of cathedrals is baroque.
Fuel and power complex represented by “Gazpromdobycha Astrakhan” is the leading enterprise of Astrakhan. The company works out Aksarai gas condensate deposit.
Gas and brimstone extraction from the condensate takes place in steppe, about 60 km from the city. The plant is a monopolist in brimstone production (70% of the Russian market) and the largest Russian brimstone exporter at the world market (12% of the world market), it gives about 24% of taxes coming to local budget and produces 60% of all the industrial output in Astrakhanskaya oblast.
In Soviet times, commercial fishing industry was developed, but due to decrease of the catch the production is reduced. Although fruit- and vegetable-processing plants increase their output.
The food industry plants produce over 13% of all output. Machine-building industry reflects the location of Astrakhan as a port city. 14 ship-building plants are in process in the city.
Astrakhan places of interest
There are 4 theaters in Astrakhan: State Music theater, State Puppet theater, State Young Spectator theater and Drama theater.
Since 1837 the Museum of Local Study and since 1918 - the Picture Gallery are open in the city.
Main architectural places of interest of Astrakhan are:
- Assumption church and the belfry at Prechistensky gates;
- Trinity church in Astrakhan Kremlin;
- Prince Vladimir the Apostle church - one of the mostly known in the city;
- Catholic church of St.Virgin Assumption (1778);
- The building of the former Azov-Don bank.
The territory of Astrakhan is crossed by channels of the Volga river-bed. This fact entailed a lot of bridges across the rivers which make the city of Astrakhan look like Saint Petersburg as well as the fact of Peter I visit to Astrakhan in 1722.