Saratov Oblast - History


The name "Saratov" is encountered in the name of a people on the Lower Volga (Ptolemy, 2nd century) and in the titles of Russian epic poems (bylinas) of the Saratov Mountains, the Saratovka River, and the Saratov Steppe. It also survives in the names of the city of Saratov and Saratov Region. Legends and scientific evidence both say that two great turning points in human history-the revelation of monotheism and domestication of the horse-are associated with the Saratov Volga region. This territory was poetically called the "Land of Apple Trees" and the "Land of Licorice." The Volga, the steppe, and oak forests were the main elements of nature in the region.

The Saratov Volga appears to be the location of one of the centers of the Old Russian state system (Volga Rus). From the 13th to the 15th centuries, these lands belonged to the Golden Horde and then to the Great Horde. The history of the Golden Horde city of Ukek (Uvek) is closely tied to the history of the new Russian city of Saratov, whose name is said to come from the Tatar words sary tau (Yellow Mountain). Thus, in a way, Saratov can be considered one of Russia's oldest cities.

Saratov's history began in the second half of the 16th century, when, after completing the formation of a centralized Russian state, Tsar Ivan the Terrible finally defeated the remnants of the Golden Horde on the Middle and Lower Volga. Following his plan, a series of fortified towns, including Saratov (1590), were built on the southeastern edge of the extended state boundaries.

Saratov first arose on the right bank of the Volga just above the city's present-day location, where the Guselka River flows into the Volga, forming a cape with a gently sloping plateau. The first town of Saratov was located in the center of this plateau; it was a fortress designed to protect Russian settlers and the Volga trade route from nomads. Two army commanders (voevody), Prince Grigory Osipovich Zasekin and strelets leader Fedor Mikhailovich Turov, began construction of Saratov Fortress in July 1590.

Since ancient times, the main Old World trade routes from the Black Sea coast, the Caucasus, Persia, Khorezm, the Urals, and Rus had passed through the Saratov Volga. All of this had an impact on the overall cultural level of the resource-rich territory, on the extent of its development, and on its importance in the Russian state system.

In June 1965, the "Saratov" train set out on its first trip to Moscow. Construction of a highway bridge across the Volga was completed in July of the same year.

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