Infobox Russian city
Charter of Astrakhan
Astrakhan ( _ru. А́страхань; _tt. Ästerxan; Persian: حاجیترخان "Haji-Tarkhan") is a major city in southern European
Russiaand the administrative center of Astrakhan Oblast. The city lies on the Volga River, close to where it discharges into the Caspian Sea. Population: 502,800 (2004 est.); 504,501 (2002 Census); 509,210 (1989 Census).
Astrakhan' is situated in the
Volga Delta, rich in sturgeonand exotic plants. The fertile area formerly contained the capitals of Khazaria and the Golden Horde. Astrakhan' itself was first mentioned by travellers in the early 13th century as Xacitarxan. Tamerlane burnt it to the ground in 1395. From 1459 to 1556, Xacitarxan was the capital of Astrakhan Khanate. The ruins of this medieval settlement were found by archaeologists 12 km upstream from the modern-day city.
In 1556, the khanate was conquered by Ivan the Terrible, who had a new fortress, or
kremlin, built on a steep hill overlooking the Volga. In 1569, Astrakhan' was besieged by the Ottoman army, which had to retreat in disarray. A year later, the Sultan renounced his claims to Astrakhan, thus opening the entire Volga River to Russian traffic. In the 17th century, the city was developed as a Russian gate to the Orient. Many merchants from Armenia, Persia, Indiaand Khiva settled in the downtown, giving it a multinational and variegated character.
For seventeen months in 1670–1671 Astrakhan' was held by
Stenka Razinand his Cossacks. Early in the following century, Peter the Great constructed a shipyardhere and made Astrakhan the base for his hostilities against Persia, and later in the same century Catherine II accorded the city important industrial privileges.
In 1711, it became a capital of a
guberniya, whose first governors included Artemy Petrovich Volynskyand Vasily Nikitich Tatishchev. Six years later, Astrakhan served as a base for the first Russian venture into Central Asia. In 1702, 1718, and 1767, it suffered severely from fires; in 1719 it was plundered by the Persians; and in 1830 the choleraswept away a large number of its people.
kremlinwas built from the 1580s to the 1620s from bricks pillaged at the site of Sarai Berke. Its two impressive cathedrals were consecrated in 1700 and 1710, respectively. Built by masters from Yaroslavl, they retain many traditional features of Russian church architecture, while their exterior decoration is definitely baroque.
In the autumn of 1942, the region to the west of Astrakhan became one of the easternmost points in the
Soviet Unionreached by the invading German Wehrmacht, during Case Blue, the offensive which led to the Battle of Stalingrad. Light armoured forces of German Army Group A made brief scouting missions as close as 100 km to the city before withdrawing.In the same period, the Luftwaffeflew several air raids on the oil terminals and harbour installations of the city.
Astrakhan has five institutions of higher education. Most prominent prominent among these are
Astrakhan State Technical Universityand Astrakhan State University.
Boris Kustodiev, a Russian painter
Joseph Deniker, French naturalist and anthropologist.
*Ilya Nikolayevich Ulyanov, father of
Aleksandr Ulyanovand Vladimir Lenin.
Vasily Kirillovich Trediakovsky, Russian poet.
Rinat Dasaev, Soviet football goalkeeper.
Marziyya Davudova, Azerbaijani actress.
Velimir Khlebnikov, a Russian Futurist poet.
* [http://www.love-astrakhan.narod.ru/ Modern foto of Astrakhan, history, maps.]
* [http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=46.360435,48.055229&spn=0.114569,0.234180&t=k&hl=en Satellite picture by Google Maps]
* [http://www.astrakhan.name/ Website of modern Astrakhan ]
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