"At this place there will be founded a town which will be generous and never be destroyed."
The history of Samara starts with this prediction, made by the metropolitan1 of Moscow and all Russian Church Alexei, Samara heavenly patron2. In 1357, passing by the confluence3 of 2 rivers - Volga and Samara - he stopped in the hermitage4 situated on the bank of the Volga River in the year 1357. At that time Samara was just a small settlement5, as it is shown on the maps, drawn in the year of 1367 by brothers Francesco and Dominico Pizziano, the Venetian merchants6.
In 1586 Duke Gregory Zassekin by order of Tsar Fyodor Ioannovich founded the fortress on a high right bank of the Samara River on the Volga meadow lands7 to keep the Great Trade Route8 under control and to protect the eastern boundaries9 of the country. The year of 1586 is officially known as a year of the "birth" of Samara. This year we celebrate its 420th birthday!
Nowadays Samara is one of the largest cities in Russia with the population of 1 133 000 people and the city area of 350 square km, known by its rich culture and friendly people.
Let's go around the historical part of the city, called "Gorod".
We'll start from the heart of the Old Town - the Revolution square (old name - Alexeyevskaya - in honour of St Alexei). It was intended10 for trade and after a fire in the end of the 19th century it has become a public place. In 1889 a monument to Alexander II was erected11 in the centre of the square. The emperor was presented in an overcoat; at the bottom there were 4 figures, which personified 4 historical events: a release of peasants12, conquest13 of the Caucasus, liberation of Bulgaria from the Turkish occupation, gain14 of Central Asia. In 1918 a sculpture and all bronze details were removed. The square got the new name "Revolution square". In 1927 the sculpture of Lenin was put up to the pedestal.
Revolution square is located at the crossroads of Kuibyshev and Ventseka streets. We'll follow Kuibyshev Street (old name - Dvoryanskaya) which is also called sometimes "Minor Nevsky" for its resemblance to the main street of St Petersburg. This street, as well as Leningradskaya Street attracts the citizens with a large variety of different shops and boutiques, cafes and restaurants. Walking along it, you'll see many historical buildings of all kinds of styles, from classical Russian to gothic, have a chance to visit a movie theatre and museums, take a walk in the shady15 Strukov Garden. It was called so in memory of the former chief of the Salt Department16 Strukov. His garden was confiscated and granted17 to the city. By the end of the 19th century the garden became one of the best parks on the Volga River.
The Drama Theatre
At the end of Kuibishev Street, on the right of the Strukov Garden we can see the Drama theatre and the Monument to Chapaev. The building of the theatre was designed by the architect M. Chichagov and was constructed in 1888, on one of the best places on the bank of the Volga River. The building was built in two different styles - classicism and Moscow medieval architecture style. An interesting fact about the Monument to Chapaev (erected in 1932) is that it has a "twin-brother"18, which you can see now in front of the military academy in St Petersburg.
The Monumet to Chapaev
Kuibishev Square, the main city square, occupies the territory of 575x325m. Its old name is Sobornaya Square. In May 1869 the construction of a beautiful cathedral in the Byzantine style by the architect E. Zhiber was started on it. The cathedral was very large - with the capacity19 of more than 2500 people. The construction was finished on April 1894. However, the cathedral was destroyed in 30s of the 20th century. Sobornaya Square was renamed into Kuibyshev Square, and in three years the monument to V.V. Kuibyshev was placed there. The temple ceded20 the place to the Opera and Ballet House. During the World War II the Bolshoi Theatre staged its performances here.
Samarskaya and Glory Squares are also very popular places. There is a Palace of Sports, the circus, the building of Samara Province Duma, the Glory Square with the eternal fire21, the building of Regional Administration, and the St George Cathedral there. People from all over the city come here to enjoy a beautiful view of the Volga River and the embankment22. Samara embankment is a place worth seeing - it is the longest in Europe - more than 7 km of beaches and green alleys for walkers, joggers23 and rollerbladers24. Hundreds of open-air25 cafes, bars, restaurants and amusements.
We'll finish our trip around Samara at the building of the railway station. Opened in 2001, it is one of the largest in Europe - 85 metres high, with the viewing point26 on top. Every day its hospitable27 walls meet more than 9000 travellers.
The city guests Nadine and Nina Husshold, from Austria, share their first impressions about Samara: "Everything is different, - says Nadine, - lifestyles, cars… Our schedule is very busy - we're staying in Samara for only 3 days, and we want to see as much as possible". "We like to travel, - adds Nina, - we have already been several times to the U.S.A, took tours around Europe, North Africa, but it is our fist time in Russia".
1 metropolitan - митрополит 2 heavenly patron - небесный покровитель 3 confluence - место слияния 4 hermitage - хижина отшельника 5 settlement - поселение 6 merchant - купец 7 meadow land - луговой участок 8 Great Trade Route - Великий торговый путь "Из Варяг в Греки" 9 boundary - граница 10 to intend - предназначать 11 to erect - воздвигать 12 a release of peasants - отмена крепостного права 13 conquest - завоевание 14 gain - завоевание 15 shady - тенистый 16 Salt Department - соляное управление 17 to grant - дарить 18 twin-brother - брат-близнец 19 capacity - вместимость 20 to cede - уступить 21 eternal fire - вечный огонь 22 embankment - набережная 23 jogger - бегун (занимающийся оздоровительным бегом трусцой) 24 rollerblader - катающийся на роликовых коньках 25 open-air - на открытом воздухе 26 viewing point - смотровая площадка 27 hospitable - гостеприимный