Russian cities: the 15 largest

15 Russian cities have more than 1 million inhabitants and they are all very far away from each other. These are the largest Russian cities by population.

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11. Ufa (1,115,560)

In 1557, the area inhabited by the Bashkirs became part of Grand Principality of Moscow. In 1574, on the orders of the Russian Tsar Ivan IV, a fortress was founded on the site of present Ufa. In 1586, the settlement became a town. The original name of the settlement was Tura-Tau, after the name of the hill it was standing on. The present name “Ufa” means “small” in the Turkic language; this name was used by local people. Later, it became the official name of the town. In the middle of the 17th century, the town got its emblem with an image of a running marten. At that time, the population of Ufa together with the garrison was about 1,500 people. In the 17th-18th centuries, Ufa gradually turned into an administrative and economic center of the region. In the 18th century, the town also became a large trading and cultural center of the Russian Empire.

Ufa
Ufa

In the middle of the 19th century, there were more than a dozen tanneries and other factories in Ufa. The town received further impetus to its development due to the following events. In 1870, the regular navigation was opened on the Belaya River. In 1888-1892, the Samara-Zlatoust (Kuibyshev) Railway was constructed. Rail and ship-repair workshops, sawmills, steam mills appeared in Ufa. By the end of the 19th century, there were about 30 factories in the town. In 1922, Ufa became the capital of Bashkir Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. In the 1920s-1930s, the city experienced rapid development, industrial production increased by several times. During the Second World War, dozens of industrial enterprises from the western regions of the USSR were evacuated to Ufa. After the discovery of oil in Bashkiria, this city became a large center of oil production and refining.

 

12. Krasnoyarsk (1,082,933)

Krasnoyarsk was founded by the Cossacks headed by Andrey Dubensky in 1628 as a military settlement in the place of the confluence of the Kacha and Yenisei rivers. Originally the settlement was called “Krasny Yar”. Krasnoyarsk became a town in 1690, when Siberia was finally annexed to Russia. In 1708, the town population was about 800 people. In 1713, the population reached 2500 people. It began to grow rapidly after the Siberian Road was constructed in 1735. The road connected Krasnoyarsk with Achinsk and the rest of European Russia. In 1773, after a major fire, only thirty houses remained in Krasnoyarsk. The new linear layout of the town of St. Petersburg type was developed. This was the beginning of present Krasnoyarsk. The town served as one of the places of exile. Eight Decembrists were exiled to Krasnoyarsk after the uprising was suppressed.

Krasnoyarsk
Krasnoyarsk

In 1834, the town garden was founded. Today, it is the central park of the city. Further development of Krasnoyarsk was due to gold-fields found in the region, and the railway constructed in 1895. In Soviet times, Krasnoyarsk was one of the largest cities in Siberia and the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. In 1934, Krasnoyarsk became the administrative center of the Krasnoyarsk Krai. The first in the RSFSR children’s railway was opened in the Park of Culture and Rest named after Gorky in 1936. During World War II, a lot of plants were evacuated from European Russia to Krasnoyarsk.

 

13. Perm (1,048,005)

Perm stands on the banks of the Kama River, the largest left tributary of the Volga, to the south of the mouth of the Chusovaya River. It is the third most extensive city in Russia after Moscow and Sochi and the third after St. Petersburg and Moscow by the area it occupies. Perm stretches about 70 km along the Kama. According to the Russian linguist and academician D.V.Bubrih’s version, the word “perm” derives from a Vepsian word “perama” meaning “far-away land”. Permian geological period (often simply “Perm”) is named in honor of the Perm province. In 1841, the British geologist Roderick Murchison allocated this geological period when he was on an expedition in the Kungur district of the Perm province. The territory of the present city was inhabited since ancient times. There are more than 130 archaeological sites in Perm (from Stone Age to the late Middle Ages). In the 17th century, these lands belonged to the Stroganov merchants.

Perm
Perm

The date of Perm foundation is considered the day when construction of Yegoshinsky copper melting plant began – May 4, 1723. In 1780, Catherine II issued a decree about the foundation of the town of Perm on the basis of the plant. In 1780-1781, the buildings for official institutions were being constructed, construction of Kazansky and Sibirsky roads began. On August 24, 1878, the Ural Railway from Perm to Chusovaya was opened. The end of the 19th century was a period of intensive railway construction. At the end of the 19th century, institutions of arts and culture were intensely developed in Perm. In 1874, construction of an opera and ballet theater began. In 1886, the first movie theater “Illusion” was opened. In the early 20th century, the city’s population reached 100,000 people.

 

14. Voronezh (1,039,801)

In 1585, a wooden fort was founded on the banks of the Voronezh River by order of the Russian Tsar Fyodor I Ivanovich (Ivan the Terrible’s son). The main purpose of the new settlement was to protect the southern border of the country from the raids of Crimean Tatars and other nomads. Construction of the fort was completed in 1586. Therefore, 1586 is considered the founding date of Voronezh. The fort was located on a high and steep right bank of the Voronezh River. In 1590, it was burned down during one of the raids. In 1594, Voronezh was rebuilt on almost the same place. In the winter of 1696, after the failure of the first attempt of capture the town of Azov, Peter I decided to create a Russian Navy and chose Voronezh as the place of its construction. In 1696-1722, Peter I visited Voronezh more than a dozen times and spent a total of about 500 days in the town. During the stay of Peter I, Voronezh actually turned into an administrative center of Russia. The population of the town increased from 10 to 50 thousand people.

Voronezh
Voronezh

Voronezh became the capital of the Azov province in 1715. Later, in 1725, the Azov province was renamed into the Voronezh guberniya. In 1748, Voronezh was badly damaged by fire. After it, the center of the town moved to the place of the present University Square. In 1781, the town received its coat of arms. In the 19th century, Voronezh was the center of the Central Black Earth region.The main local products were bread, butter, cattle, leather, soap and others. It was connected with Rostov-on-Don by railway in 1868, with Moscow – in 1871. In 1913, Voronezh Agricultural Institute, the first higher education institution in the city, was opened. Today, it is known as Voronezh State Agricultural University named after Emperor Peter I. In the early 20th century, the city’s population was about 61 thousand people.

 

15. Volgograd (1,015,586)

The first settlement on the territory of present Volgograd was founded presumably in 1555. In 1589, it was first mentioned in the historical materials as a small fort called Tsaritsyn, standing on an island at the confluence of the Tsaritsa and the Volga rivers. The fort was named after the Tsaritsa River. At the beginning of the 17th century, Tsaritsyn burned down and was newly rebuilt on the right bank of the Volga in 1615. The fortress was an important part of the Russian southern defense line. The reforms of Peter I greatly increased the country’s power (organization of the army, industry and government). In the 1750s, the Russian expansion to the Crimea, the Caucasus and Central Asia started. Tsaritsyn was located far from these regions and therefore began to turn in a small peaceful provincial town. In the 19th century, it became a large river port and trade center.

Volgograd
Volgograd

After the abolition of serfdom in 1861, the rapid growth of the town’s industry began, aided by convenient transport routes – the Volga River and developed railway network. In 1880, an oil refinery of “Nobel” company came into operation, Russia’s largest oil storage facilities were built here. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were more than 230 factories in Tsaritsyn. In 1913, the population of the town was about 130,000. In 1918-1920, during the Civil War in Russia, Tsaritsyn became a place of fierce fighting. In 1925, the city was renamed in honor of Stalin. Stalingrad became one of the centers of the Soviet heavy industry. During the the Second World War, the Battle of Stalingrad took place here. It was one of the turning points of the war, one of the biggest battles in history.

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