Penza is a city located on the Volga Uplands in the center of the European part of Russia, on the Sura River (a tributary of the Volga River), 642 km south-east of Moscow. It is the administrative, economic and cultural center of the Penza region.
Penza population is about 523,000 (2015), the land area - 305 sq. km.
The phone code is +7 8412; the postal codes - 440000-440071.
Penza was founded as a fortress under Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich in 1663 as an outpost on the south-eastern outskirts of the Russian kingdom, to protect the country against the steppe nomads.
The name “Penza” is associated with the name of the Penza River, the fortress was built on the steep bank of it. The river had this name long before that. There are several hypotheses about the origin of “penza”. According to one version, the name comes from the Indo-Iranian languages. The basis “Pe” - means “fire” and the syllable “-za” means “water”, “river”.
In 1665, the population of the town was about 3,300 people. Penza was attacked by nomads in 1668, 1680 and 1717 but was never captured. In the first third of the 18th century, Penza turned into an inner town of the Russian Empire and lost its former strategic importance. In the second half of the 18th century, Penza became a major economic center, which prosperity was based on agricultural production.
More Historical Facts…
In 1781, Penza got its official coat of arms - three sheaves in the green field: wheat, barley, and millet, meaning the wealth of the local land. In 1786, Penza public school was founded, one of the oldest educational institutions in Russia. In the 1800s, the town’s population was about 13,000 people. One of the oldest racetracks in Russia was founded in Penza in 1848. In 1858, there was a fire, which destroyed half the town.
Penza is home to the Russian circus. In 1873, the town held the first circus performance owned by the Russian entrepreneurs Nikitin brothers. In 1891, the first in the region museum of local lore was opened in the town. The first public library was opened in 1837. Due to the large number of cultural and educational institutions, Penza, at the turn of the 19th-20th centuries, was called “New Athens”.
Penza was traditionally located at the crossroads of important trade routes, and, by the end of the 19th century, it received the railway exit in all directions. In the 19th - early 20th century, the leading role in the economy of Penza was owned by grain trading, food industry, especially milling and vodka industries.
The paper mill, opened in 1850, was the largest industrial enterprise in pre-revolutionary Penza (today, it is “Mayak” factory). In 1897, the population of the town was about 60,000. As a result of intensive development in the early 20th century, its population reached 105,000 people in 1917.
In the first years after the revolutionary events of 1917, Penza was in the midst of the Civil War. February 4, 1939, the Penza region (oblast) was formed. By that time, the population of the city was 160,000 people.
During the Second World War, a lot of enterprises from the west of the USSR were evacuated to Penza, that was the beginning of industrial growth. Penza became one of the most powerful centers of mortar armament production. In 1943, the Industrial Institute was opened (today, it is known as Penza State University).
Present day Penza is a major center of Russia with a well-developed infrastructure and rich cultural traditions.
Fun on the water in Penza
Entertainment for kids in Penza
Penza climate is temperate continental. The average temperature in February is minus 9.1 degrees Celsius, in July - plus 20.4 degrees Celsius.
The city is divided into four districts: Zheleznodorzhny, Leninsky, Oktyabrsky, Pervomaisky. The main types of industrial products manufactured by local enterprises: steel pipes, machines for municipal utilities, medical equipment, instrumentation and automation equipment, chemical equipment, computer equipment.
Penza is a large railway junction. The federal highway M5 “Ural” (Moscow - Chelyabinsk) passes through Penza. The highway P209 Penza - Tambov starts here. Penza bus station is the largest in the region connecting the city with all district centers and neighboring regions.
In the southern outskirt of Penza there is an airport. Flights to Moscow, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod are available.
Penza urban transport consists of trolley-buses, buses and minivans. It is one of the largest cities in Russia which doesn’t have trams.
Old architecture in Penza
The building of the former Meat Arcade in Penza
Architectural monument in Penza
Penza places of interest
Penza is a cozy city, which miraculously combines calm, unhurried province and an impressive number of interesting cultural objects. It is pleasant to walk through the old streets, looking at the sights of Penza.
Penza has a lot of interesting architectural monuments. One of the most beautiful buildings is the former Meat Arcade (Moskovskaya Street, 85), built in the late 19th century. Moskovskaya street without a doubt can be called the main street of Penza. It is a pedestrian street located in the historic center, one of the oldest streets in the city.
On Vokzalnaya Square there is an unusual art object - a tree made of old traffic lights. To see the entire city and the sights of Penza from above, you should go to Belinsky Park which has a Ferris wheel.
- Penza State Museum of Local Lore (Krasnaya Street, 73),
- Penza Folk Museum (Kuibysheva Street, 45),
- Penza Regional Art Gallery named after K.A. Savitsky (Sovetskaya Street, 3),
- The Museum of One Painting named after G.V. Myasnikov (Kirova Street, 11),
- The Museum of V.O. Kluchevsky (Kluchevsky Street, 66),
- The House-Museum of N.N. Burdenko (Lermontova Street, 28),
- The Museum of I.N. Ulyanov (Krasnaya Street, 54),
- The Museum of Postal Services (Teatralnyy Passage, 7),
- The Museum of the City of Penza (Sovetskaya Square, 1),
- Penza Railway Museum (Oktyabrskaya Street, 2).
- Literary Museum (Kirova Street, 2).
- Penza Regional Drama Theater named after A.V. Lunacharsky (Moskovskaya Street, 89),
- Penza Regional Puppet Theater “Kukolniy Dom” (Chkalova Street, 35),
- Penza Theater for Young People (Tarkhanova Street, 10a),
- The Center of Theatrical Art “The House of Meyerhold” (Volodarsky Street, 59),
- Penza State Philharmonic (Kirova Street, 51 (the old building), Suvorova Street, 215 (the new building)),
- Penza Circus (Plekhanova Street, 13).