Saratov History, Russia
Saratov is one of the oldest cities of Russia. It was established in the second half of the 16th century (precisely in 1590) along with other cities in Volga Region like Kazan and Volgograd, as part of Tsar Feodor Ivanovich’s policy of creating a centralized Russian state. But then, a long pre-history precedes Saratov history – a prehistoric connection woven through legends and corroborated by scientific evidences. Researchers have indicated that Saratov happens to be a part of the region (the Eurasian Steppes) where people took the initial steps of domesticating horses. Again Saratov, according to one legend, was the site of the legendary city of the pre-Christian era, Gelonus. Of course, there is no need to look that far – the 13th century Golden/Great Horde city of Ukek or Uvek was Saratov’s immediate-predecessor.
Saratov History: Establishment of the City to the end of 18th Century
Saratov was founded as a Russian military post. A lot of pre-planning went into setting up the whole town – buildings, mostly wooden-structures that would later be part of the town, were assembled a year in advance in a different location. When all the structures were ready, they were disassembled and transported to the actual-site to be re-assembled. This speeded up the whole process and the town was ready in a few weeks’ time. The construction of Saratov Fortress began in July 1590 and it was completed the same year. The fortress was destroyed twice in the course of the next century (first in 1616 and again in 1674) and the whole town had to be shifted.
Saratov ceased to be a military post in 1718 and this marked a new beginning in Saratov history. The town saw influx of people in huge numbers, resulting in population-growth and expansion of the boundaries. Salt production had become the chief occupation of the people and when the town became an important Salt Administration center in 1747, its importance as a trading center increased.
The last decade of the 18th century saw Saratov making remarkable progress as the provincial capital of the Saratov Province – the city not only prospered agriculturally, it also gained reputation as an industrial and trading center.
Saratov History: 19th Century Onwards
The 19th century ushered Saratov into an era of growth and development – the city became an important shipping port, it got its first railroad link and also a number of key industries. With the growing importance of Saratov, it essentially became a cosmopolitan city that boasted a rich culture.
The 20th century was far more eventful. Saratov got its first university in 1909 and by 1916 the city had at least 5 institutes where people could pursue higher studies. Year 1917 marked the beginning of the Soviet-era (that lasted till 1991). Saratov prospered immensely in this period. One of the biggest achievements of Soviet-era Saratov was the completion of the 2.8 km road-bridge spanning the Volga in 1965. Saratov’s present-significance as a cultural and scientific center owes much to the Soviet-period.
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