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Krasnoyarsk History, Russia

Krasnoyarsk is the administrative, cultural and academic centre of Russia’s second largest region – Krasnoyarsk Krai. Although Krasnoyarsk is mostly known for its thriving metallurgical industry and close-by mountains, the city has a long and fascinating history.

Krasnoyarsk History – Krasnoyarsk during Tsarist Times

Krasnoyarsk history begins in the first half of the 17th century, when the Russian Cossacks lead by Andrei Dubenski founded a military settlement on the banks of Yenisei River and named it “Krasniy Yar” (meaning “beautiful shore”). Initially, the military garrison was supposed to defend the Russian territory against Kirgiz attacks. However, as Kirgiz intrusions ceased after the Kyahta Peace Treaty was signed, the military importance of the city considerably decreased. Even more, a fire destroyed all fortifications in 1773.

At the beginning of the following century, Krasnoyarsk was chosen as the capital of the newly established Yenisei Province. The opening of Krasnoyarsk port on the Yenisei River (one of Russia’s major rivers) boosted commerce and lead to the arrival of numerous craftsmen, businessmen and gold seekers. Across the 19th century, Krasnoyarsk history registered a considerable growth, which culminated with the arrival of the Trans-Siberian Railway. Numerous buildings were constructed in order to accommodate the city’s administration, schools, hospitals and cultural institutions. When the Decembrist revolt failed, some of the protesters were exiled in Krasnoyarsk. It is also the period when the Regional Studies Museum was founded – this museum is still considered one of the best in the country.

Krasnoyarsk History – Krasnoyarsk after the October Revolution

One major reform of the communist administration was to transform Krasnoyarsk into the administrative center of Krasnoyarsk Krai (1934). In the next decades, the city became the subject of an intense industrialization process, not only as a result of Stalinist planarization, but also as a consequence of World War II, when most factories from the European part of Russia had to be relocated. The construction of powerful hydro-electric plants on Yenisei and Angara rivers contributed to this wave of unprecedented economic growth. Krasnoyarsk played a sinister role between 1938-1860, when Kraslag labor camp functioned as a part of the Russian gulag.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Krasnoyarsk went through a difficult transition, marked by unemployment, worker’s strikes and financial scandals. However, in the last year, the city seems to have entered a new era of development: the historic center has been restored, much of the infrastructure modernized, and foreign capital started to pump the city’s economy. Although Krasnoyarsk history might not be as fascinating as Moscow History, or Krasnoyarsk attraction as numerous as Moscow Sights, this Siberian city is just perfect for a weekend of sightseeing and outdoor activities.

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