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Saratov

Federal District: Volga
Founded: 1590
Population: 843 460 (2016 Census)
Area: 394 km2
Federal City Day: 2nd Sunday of September

Saratov is a major city in southern Russia. The city was initially founded in the 16th century as a fortress to protect the southern districts of the Russian Empire. Situated on the Volga River, Saratov was a major military aircraft manufacturing site, the home of the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, and a vital part of the Soviet space program. There is a museum dedicated to Gagarin and his life. Saratov has a rich cultural life, as well - among the most famous sites is the Conservatoire designed in a Neo-Gothic style as well as the Drama Theatre named after Ivan Slonov, one of the oldest theatres in Russia. For those interested in art there is the Radischev Art Museum with more than 20,000 exhibits. Of other interest, the community of Volga Germans was centred in the Saratov region. In the early 20th century over 800,000 ethnic Germans made their home in this area preserving many of their German customs.

There are flights and trains from Moscow to Saratov, but is normally visited as part of a river cruise. The embankments along the Volga give some spectacular views including the ‘Old Bridge’ which was the longest bridge in Europe until the 1980s.

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