Samara is big city in in the Mid-Volga Region, located on the left bank of the Volga, between the mouths of the Samara and Sok rivers. Samara is a center of the Volga economic region and the Samara oblast, ranking ninth in population. 1.1 million people live here. From 1935 till 1991 the city’s name was Kuybyshev, in honor of the soviet party and state politician Valerian Vladimirovich Kuybyshev. Samara was founded only 4 centuries ago, and the party’s unique signs are present in the city’s architecture.
The Volga embankment is one of the main landmarks in Samara. It’s actually one of the longest in Russia. The embankment is divided into 4 parts, running down to the Volga. You can appreciate not only the embankment, but also the beauty of the Volga. There are also famous singing fountains. They are not so impressive in the daytime, but at night there is an amazing light/music performance, the water jets change their shapes, shooting up in time with the music. You can also head out to Kuybyshev square, included in the list of the biggest world squares. Various city landmarks are presented here, and there are parks in the corners.
Samara railway station
Of course, you can’t miss the railway station, which is the tallest in the Europe. It is about 100m tall, and is able to hold about 12 thousand people. There is also the Railway Museum in Samara. There are about 100 unique exhibits, showing the steps of the railway’s development. The pride of the museum is the plans for the first Russian steamboat, by Yefim and Myron Cherepanov. The unique Daskovo railway station, built in the middle of the 19th century, was converted to a museum. It’s both an administrative building and a showroom. The railway building is built from old logs, which were preserved during the half-century expansion.
In 1942, at a depth of 37 meters (about the height of a 12-story house) a bunker was constructed. It was designed to become the reserve Supreme High Command General Headquarters of the USSR I.V. Stalin. Samara was intentionally chosen for the construction of the bunker, the city was intended to become the next capital in case Moscow was invaded. The bunker was declassified in the 1990. It looks similar to a smaller version of the Moscow ‘Aeroport’ metro station. Moscow Metro construction workers, secretly transported there, worked under the bunker. The construction took place over less than one year under top secrecy. The entrance is located in a very ordinary yard, citizens weren’t moved out and had no idea what was happening. The bunker has 8 levels, and the level numbers go from the bottom up. Due to all of this, that bunker is considered to be one of the biggest in the world. Nowadays it holds a Civil Defense Museum.
Monument of Glory
The Monument of Glory is one of the most famous symbols in Samara. Made of high-alloy steel, the Monument is a 13-meter-high figure of a worker, standing on a 40-meter-high plinth facing the Volga. In his raised hands he holds big slanted surfaces, representing the wings of planes produced in Kuybyshev. The worker’s figure stands for a toiler, and the plinth – ascending to the sun’s bright rays.
Samara is also famous for its churches. Iviron monastery is located in the historic part of the city. The building mostly originated in the 19th century. It’s a great place to take a break from the busy city. The Ascension Cathedral is the oldest building in the city. It’s incredibly beautiful from every point. But the most unique landmark in Samara is The Sacred Heart Church. It is completely different from the Russian style, due to its neo-gothic style. It was built in the 19th century, because Poles represented the vast majority of the population. During its more than one hundred year history different establishments were located here.
The city history is closely related to rocket science. The Space and Rocket Center produced 1660 Soyuz rockets, launched from Soviet and Russian spaceports. The Soyuz launcher monument in the museum “Cosmic Samara” named after D.I. Kozlov is a pride of the city. It was erected at the end of Lenin prospect near the ‘Rossiyskaya’ metro station to commemorate the jubilee of Yuri Gagarin’s space flight and the R-7 rocket launched in Samara in 1958. It’s the only one integral to Europe’s Soyuz launcher, and weighs around 45 pounds and measures 68 meters high.
The Art Museum is completely worth visiting. There are various works of famous Russian painters from the 19-20th centuries and even earlier, and a presentable amount of European masters’ works. The whole museum is divided into several halls, each of them dedicated to show the certain style or period in art.
For history lovers there is the Memorial Estate of Alexey Tolstoy. The house was built in 1882 and belonged to the writer’s father. After the revolution it was turned into regular communal apartments. The writer lived there while studying in the Samara Academy. The interior was rebuilt thanks to the writer’s relatives. The personal archives of A.S. Tolstoy and his mother – A.L. Bostrom are exhibited here, she was also a writer. The museum contains more than 10 thousand materials connected with A.S. Tolstoy’s life and work. The highlight is a flat where the future author lived with his parents.
The modern museum, one of the hottest around, has been located in Alexandra Kyrlina’s estate since 2012. The mansion, the embodiment of the Russian modern, was built in 1903 as a project by Alexander Zelenko. It’s located in 3 halls: office, boudoir, and dining room. They hold furniture, clothes, paintings, and accessories of European and Russian experts from the early 20th century.
‘Samarskaya Luka’, zhiguli nature reserve, is located 70 kilometers from the city. The territory encompasses 89 square miles (around 2.5 sq. miles is located on the Volga islands). The protected area was established in 1966. In 2007, the Zhiguli Reserve was added to the UNESCO Middle Volga Biosphere Reserve, along with the surrounding Samarskaya Luka National Park. The beauty of that area was captured on the works of the outstanding Russian artists I. Aivazovsky and I. Repin.
The Zhiguli sea is located to the north. It is the biggest in Russia, and the third largest square reservoir in the world. It extends 500 kilometers.
Zhiguli brewery, one of the oldest in Russia, is located here. It was built in 1881 by Austrian subject Alfred Josef Marie Ritter von Vacano. Tourists should definitely pay this brewery a visit. Here visitors can also taste the fruits of the brewer’s labors.