Ermak Travel Guide

 

Astrakhan

Астрахань

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Description of Astrakhan

Astrakhan is a city in Russia, the administrative center of the Astrakhan region. It is the oldest economic and cultural center of the Lower Volga and the Caspian region. Included in the list of historical cities of Russia. Forms urban district of the city of Astrakhan. Center of Astrakhan urban agglomeration.

It is located in the upper part of the Volga river delta, on 11 islands of the Caspian lowland. The distance to Moscow by road is 1411 km. The city is divided into 4 administrative districts: Kirovsky, Soviet, Leninsky and Trusovsky. Population: 533,925 people. (2018). Area: 208.7 km². It is inhabited by more than 100 nationalities, 14 religious denominations live in Astrakhan, 17 societies of national cultures operate here.

 

 

 

History of Astrakhan

Medieval history
Astrakhan is in the Volga Delta, which is rich in sturgeon and exotic plants. The fertile area formerly contained the capitals of Khazaria and the Golden Horde. Astrakhan was first mentioned by travelers in the early 13th century as Xacitarxan. Tamerlane burnt it to the ground in 1395 during his war with the Golden Horde. From 1459 to 1556, Xacitarxan was the capital of Astrakhan Khanate. The ruins of this medieval settlement were found by archaeologists 12 km upstream from the modern-day city.

Starting in A.D. 1324, Ibn Battuta, the famous Muslim traveler, began his pilgrimage from his native city of Tangier to Mecca. Along the 75,000 mile trek, that took nearly 29 years, Ibn Battuta came in contact with many new cultures in which he speaks about in his diaries. One specific country that he passed through on his journey was the Golden Horde ruled by the descendants of Genghis Khan, located on the Volga River in southern Russia; which Battuta refers to as the river Athal. He then claims the Athal is, “one of the greatest rivers in the world.” ( Battuta, 79). In the winter, when the weather is very cold, the Muslim ruler, or Sultan, stays in Astrakhan. Due to this cold water, the King [Sultan Mohammed Öz Beg] orders the people of Astrakhan to lay many bundles of hay down on the frozen river. He does this to allow the people to travel over the ice. When Battuta and the King spoke about Battuta visiting Constantinople, which the King granted him permission to do, the King then gifted Battuta with fifteen hundred dinars, many horses and a dress of honor.

In 1556, the khanate was conquered by Ivan the Terrible, who had a new fortress, or kremlin, built on a steep hill overlooking the Volga in 1558. This year is traditionally considered to be the foundation of the modern city.

In 1569, during the Russo-Turkish War (1568–1570), Astrakhan was besieged by the Ottoman army, which had to retreat in disarray. A year later, the Ottoman sultan renounced his claims to Astrakhan, thus opening the entire Volga River to Russian traffic. The Ottoman Empire, though militarily defeated, insisted on safe passage for Muslim pilgrims and traders from Central Asia as well as the destruction of the Russian's fort on the Terek river. In the 17th century, the city was developed as a Russian gate to the Orient. Many merchants from Armenia, Safavid Persia, Mughal India and Khiva khanate settled in the town, giving it a cosmopolitan character.

Modern history
For seventeen months in 1670–1671, Astrakhan was held by Stenka Razin and his Cossacks. Early in the following century, Peter the Great constructed a shipyard here and made Astrakhan the base for his hostilities against Persia, and later in the same century Catherine the Great accorded the city important industrial privileges.

The city rebelled against the Tsar once again in 1705, when it was held by the Cossacks under Kondraty Bulavin. A Kalmuck khan laid an abortive siege to the kremlin several years before that.

In 1711, it became the seat of a governorate, whose first governors included Artemy Petrovich Volynsky and Vasily Nikitich Tatishchev. Six years later, Astrakhan served as a base for the first Russian venture into Central Asia. It was granted town status in 1717.[citation needed] In 1702, 1718 and 1767, it suffered severely from fires; in 1719 it was plundered by the Safavid Persians; and in 1830, cholera killed much of the populace.

Astrakhan's kremlin was built from the 1580s to the 1620s from bricks taken from the site of Sarai Berke. Its two impressive cathedrals were consecrated in 1700 and 1710, respectively. Built by masters from Yaroslavl, they retain many traditional features of Russian church architecture, while their exterior decoration is definitely baroque.

In March 1919 after a failed workers' revolt against Bolshevik rule, 3,000 to 5,000 people were executed in less than a week by the Cheka under orders from Sergey Kirov. Some victims had stones tied around their necks and were thrown into the Volga.

During Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, the A-A line running from Astrakhan to Arkhangelsk was to be the eastern limit of German military operation and occupation. The plan was never carried out, as Germany captured neither the two cities nor Moscow. In the autumn of 1942, the region to the west of Astrakhan became one of the easternmost points in the Soviet Union reached by the invading German Wehrmacht, during Case Blue, the offensive which led to the Battle of Stalingrad. Light armored forces of German Army Group A made brief scouting missions as close as 100 km to Astrakhan before withdrawing. In the same period, elements of both the Luftwaffe's KG 4 and KG 100 bomber wings attacked Astrakhan, flying several air raids and bombing the city's oil terminals and harbor installations.

 

 

 

 


 

Transportation

 

 

Hotels, motels and where to sleep

 

 

Restaurant, taverns and where to eat

 

 

Cultural (and not so cultural) events

 

 

Interesting information and useful tips