Saratov is a major city in southwestern Russia. It is situated 858 km southeast of the capital Moscow. Saratov lies high on the right bank of the Volga, the city stretches 50 kilometers along its course, and extends over an area of 377, 93 square kilometers, with three mountains: Sokolovaya, Lysaya and Altynnaya.
Saratov is primarily known as a major transportation hub (rail and road) and one of the major river ports along the Volga. Around 850, 000 people live in Saratov, which is the fifteenth largest city in Russia. In 1991 Saratov’s population was about 900, 000 people, but in recent years they have seen a slight decline in population.
Since most major airports around the world have no direct flights to Saratov, it can be considered as a plus for tourists. To reach Saratov, one must go through the majestic capital of Russia and historic St. Petersburg. The journey from Moscow to Saratov will not take long: train travel is 16-17 hours and in the air it is only 1 hour 35 minutes or 2 hours and 15 minutes.
The name Saratov comes from the Turkic "Sara tau" which translates as "Yellow Mountain". One legend says that Saratov is the successor of Scythian city Gelonus, which is supposed to have been founded by the northernmost Greek colony. According to the sixth book of Herodotus, the village was burned to the ground by the Persian emperor Darius in 512 BC. Officially Saratov was founded as a city on the 2nd or 12th July 1590 by Prince D. O. Zasekin and F. M. Turov as a fortress to guard the Volzhsky trade route.
The first railroad in Saratov appeared in 1870 with the route Tambov - Saratov, which connects the village with Moscow and Petersburg. Gradually, Saratov marks rapid growth of industry and is formed as one of the big centers of trade in grain and grain products in Russia. From 1928 to 1932 Saratov is the center of Nizhnevolzhski from 1934 – Saratovskaya area, and since 1936 - the Saratov region.
Saratov is the hometown of the multibillionaire Roman Abramovich. The city has one of the oldest universities in Russia - Saratov State University, thanks to the many educational institutions, Saratov is considered one of the major centers of higher education and science in the country. Here graduated Yuri Gagarin. Until 1990 the Saratov city was kept closed and foreigners were not admitted as several large companies from the defense industry, such as the Saratov Aviation Plant for producing military and commercial aircraft were operating here.
Today Saratov is an industrial and cultural center. The city is one of the best in Russia for dramatic and musical theater. The Academic Drama Theatre is the successor of the first commercial theater in Saratov. It started functioning in the early nineteenth century when the land owner was a person with the name of Gladkov. It's workers first began to export performances for a price. Remarkable in Saratov is also the performing arts academy, which has existed since 1988. In addition to these theaters in Saratov are a lot museums and galleries, including the State Museum and the Museum Fedin Chernyshevsky.
Over the Volga in Saratov was built one of the largest and most skillfully executed bridges in Europe. Saratov Bridge was built in 1958 and was put into use in 1965. At the time, the technological methods of raising this bridge were completely revolutionary. Among other remarkable places in Saratov are several parks that should definitely be visited.
The main park is considered a genuine botanical museum with its more than 70 species of trees and shrubs – from native and exotic species alike. In this park you can see the oaks of more than 500 years age. Park Lipki was founded at around 181 and today is considered the oldest in Saratov. Located downtown, it is a favorite place for walks and rest for a lot of young people in the city.