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 Post subject: Rostov-on-Don
Post Number:#1  PostPosted: 18 Oct 2009 05:42 
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Rostov-on-Don

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The city of Rostov-on-Don is the capital of the Rostov region, SE European Russia, on the Don River near its entrance into the Sea of Azov.

It is a major port and rail hub and an important industrial, cultural, and scientific center. One of Russia's leading producers of agricultural machinery, Rostov-na-Donu also has ship and locomotive repair yards, plants processing food and tobacco, mechanical engineering works, and factories that manufacture chemicals, building materials, electrical equipment, road-making machinery, furniture, clothing, footwear, and leather goods.

A customs house was built on the site in 1749, but the city grew around a fortress erected in 1761 and named for St. Dmitri of Rostov. Chartered in 1797, it was named Rostov-na-Donu to distinguish it from the older city of Rostov. It grew rapidly after the opening of its port in 1834 and was a major grain-exporting center throughout the 19th cent. Its position as a center for trade between European Russia and the Caucasus area also gave it the name „Gateway to the Caucasus.

The city suffered much damage in World War II and had to be rebuilt after the war.

It has a population of 1.027.100. The building of a fortress named after St.Dimitry has begun in 1761 in the site of the present-day Rostov-on-Don. The fortress settlements have transformed into a city in 1796 which was officially named Rostov-on-Don in 1806. Rostov-on-Don is an industrial, cultural and scientific centre in the south of Russia today. The major cultural establishments of the city are the Drama Theatre, the Music Comedy Theatre, the Puppet Theatre, the Museum of Local Lore and the Museum of Fine Arts.

History

The mouth of the Don River has been of great commercial and cultural importance since the ancient times. It was the site of the Greek colony Tanais, of the Genoese fort Tana, and of the Turkish fortress Azak. (See the article on Azov for detailed information on those settlements.)

Rostov-on-Don was founded on December 15, 1749, as a customs house was set up on the Temernik (a tributary of the Don) to control the trade with Turkey. The custom house was built according to the edict of the Empress Elizabeth, the daughter of Peter the Great. Not far from the customhouse grew the fortress. It was named after Russian metropolitan, Saint Dimitry of Rostov, a newly-glorified bishop from the old Northern town Rostov the Great. Later the name was changed to Rostov (in 1806) and then to Rostov-on-Don. As Azov gradually declined, a settlement near the new fortress superseded it in importance as a chief commercial centre of the region. In 1756 the "Russian commercial and trading company of Constantinople" set up there, establishing a settlement on the high bank of the Don known as the "Kupecheskaya Sloboda" (the merchant's fortress). In 1796 this settlement received town rights and was renamed Rostov-on-Don, in order to distinguish it from its ancient namesake.

Rostov's favorable geographical position on the crossing of trade routes promoted the rapid economic development of the city. The Don River that the city is named for is a major shipping lane connecting southwestern Russia with regions to the north, and Rostov-on-Don is an important river port in both passenger-oriented and industrial shipping. Rostov became a busy trading port, which was visited by Russian, Italian, Greek, Turkish, as well as other foreign merchants. As the most heavily industrialized city of South Russia, it was a bone of contention between the Whites and the Bolsheviks during the Civil War. By 1928, the regional government was moved from the old Cossack capital Novocherkassk to Rostov, which also engulfed the nearby Armenian town of Nor Nakhijevan (Nakhijevan, Proletarskiy district now).

After the construction of the Volga-Don Shipping Canal in 1952 Rostov became a port of five seas: the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov, the Caspian Sea, the White Sea and the Baltic Sea.

The population of Rostov-on-Don was 15 thousand in 1850 and 110 thousand at the beginning of previous century. In the neighborhood there developed another town, founded in 1779 by the Crimean Armenians, who were granted shelter in the South of Russia. It was Nakhichevan-on-Don. A wheat field was the border between two towns. Nowadays the central square of Rostov-on-Don, Theatre Square, is situated directly on the place of the former town border. In 1928 two cities were united and Nakhichevan became part of Rostov. In Armenian "Nakhichevan" means "the first halt". Thousands of descendants of the Crimean Armenians still live in Rostov.

In the Soviet years, the Bolsheviks demolished two of Rostov's principal landmarks - St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral (1908) and St George Cathedral in Nakhichevan (1783-1807). Much of the city was reduced to rubble by the German forces who occupied it twice during the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945) - in 1941 and 1942. The first occupation was in the autumn of 1941. It lasted seven days. In the plans of Hitler's generals Rostov was a city of special importance, a strategic railway junction and a river port, a gateway to the Caucasus, rich in minerals, especially in oil. The city was badly damaged by bombing. The best units of the German panzer army were driven out of Rostov. But in the summer of 1942 the German army managed to occupy the city for the second time. The second occupation lasted seven months. It took ten years to raise the city from the ruins and restore it even further.

Nowadays, the most conspicuous feature of the downtown is the enormous Cathedral of Virgin's Nativity (1860-87), designed by Konstantin Thon.

Rostov has rich cultural traditions.

The names of dozens of well-known figures of art, literature an science are connected with the city: they either lived or worked in Rostov or nearby. They are the poets, writers A.P. Chekhov, M.A. Sholokhov, Zakrutkin, Fadeev, Safronov, Kalinin, A.S. Pushkin, A.M. Gorky, S.A. Yesenin, A.N. Tolstoy, the architect E. Vuchetich, the scientists D.I. Mendeleyev, A.S. Popov, L.P. Pavlov, Solzhenitsyn and Zhdanov, the actress Maretskaya, the composers Zaslavsky, Nazaretov, the great Russian commander A.V. Suvorov and many others. Here Moussorgsky gave his concerts and Maxim Gorky, being a youth, worked as a docker. The great Russian actor Mikhail Shchepkin performed in the theatre and the celebrated explorer of the Arctic Sea George Sedov dreamt about his expeditions. It is also important to mention the doctors N.Bogoraz and S.Fedosov, the Armenian writer and enlightener M.Nalbandyan, the outstanding Armenian painters Martiros Saryan and Ashot Melkonian. After visiting Rostov in 1831, A.S. Pushkin published his poem "The Don". The monument to A.S. Pushkin on Pushkin Boulevard is dedicated to remind those events.

Rostov-on-Don has experienced considerable economic growth in recent years, as the Russian economy recovers nationwide. Numerous start-up companies have established headquarters in the city, the median income is increasing, and the city is being transformed from a place thrown back in time by the collapse of USSR into a modern, industrial and technology-rich hub.

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