Saratov (also spelled Saratow) is a major Volga River port, administrative center of Saratov oblast of Russia. The city is located about 860 km southeast of Moscow along the right bank of the Volga River.
Saratov population is about 840,000 (2012); land area - 394 sq. km.
The phone code is +7 8452; postal codes - 410000-410600.
Saratov is a multi functional center with a lot of industrial, cultural and educational institutions. Administrations of the city and the region are located in the historical center of Saratov (a number of buildings constructed at the end of the 19th-mid 20th centuries).
There are the theaters of opera and ballet (1875), drama (1967), young spectator (1918). There are also conservatoire (1912), circus (1876), philharmonic society (1937) in the city.
In Russia, the city is known as a center of higher education, research, scientific and project activities. Beside one of the oldest Universities in Russia, there are over a dozen of colleges in the city. Machine-building, oil and chemical industries are developed in Saratov.
In Soviet time, Saratov became an industrial center in the southeast of the country. Nowadays the city is an important industrial center in the Volga area. About 70% of the industrial product of Saratov is produced by large machine- and gadget-building plants.
In 1586, Samara fortress was constructed on the border of the Russian state being under the rule of Tsar Fedor Ivanovich. Later, in 1589, Tsaritsyn (Stalingrad during Soviet times and Volgograd now) fortress was built. Saratov fortress was founded between these two fortresses in 1590.
There are several versions of Saratov name origin. First one says that it is connected with Turkic phrase “Saryk Atov” meaning “hawks island”. Another one says that the origin is from Tatar phrase “Sary Tau” meaning “Yellow Mountain” (Saratov is surrounded by several sandy hills).
In the beginning of the 19th century, Saratov became an important river port. The industry began to develop quickly after the building of railway connecting city with Moscow in 1870.
Saratov had the status of “closed city” during the times of Soviet power (no foreigners were allowed to visit it) because it was Soviet major aircraft and space ships producing center.
Also it should be mentioned that the city was home to Volga Germans for a long time. Pokrovsk city (present time name - Engels) situated just across the Volga River from Saratov was the capital of German Republic (about 800,000 of Volga Germans).
A lot of them (about 400,000) were exiled to Siberia and Kazakhstan with the beginning of the World War II. Later, in 1980th, a lot of Volga Germans emigrated to Germany.
Among the main cultural heritage objects of Saratov are Saratov conservatoire, St.Trinity cathedral church, Saratov State art museum named after Radishev, house-museum of Pavel Kuznetsov. There are a lot of art galleries in the city, among them Saratov State art museum named after Radishev. It was the first public museum opened in Russia.
There are rich ethnographic collections, collection of weapons, of manuscript and old books, entomological and numismatic ones in the museum of local study. The collection of exhibits linked with the history of Saratov theaters and Saratov theatrical school is of special interest.
On Sokolov mountain, there is Saratov State museum of military glory (Victory Park) where military equipment of the World War II and postwar time is exhibited as well as the equipment of extraordinary situations troops.
Besides, on Sokolov mountain there is a national village where the houses of peoples inhabiting Saratovskaya oblast in the past are presented as well exhibits linked with cultivating virgin and long-fallow lands.
Among the other places of interest of Saratov are:
- Saratov State conservatoire named after Sobinov;
- Chernyshevsky statue;
- Lipki Park;
- Trinity church on Museum square;
- Automobile bridge across the Volga connecting Saratov and Engels;
- Spacemen embankment;
- The place located about 16 km away from Engels city where the first spaceman Yuru Gagarin landed;
- Uvek - remnants of an ancient city, a large center of the Golden Horde - to the south of the city;
- Saratov circus.