"The Germans of the Volga" Saratovskaya Oblast' by jorgejuansanchez
Saratovskaya Oblast' Travel Guide: 47 reviews and 157 photos
I found Saratov much more pleasant than Samara.
The distinctive of the town, of almost 1 million inhabitants, was a long bridge crossing the Volga River. With its almost 3000 metres, it used to be the longest in the old Soviet Union. At the other end of the bridge there was the town of Engels, called Kosakenstadt until 1941.
Another landmark of Saratov was the pretty looking Conservatory, a building in the main pedestrian street, that, according to the people that I asked in the street, it was erected in Neo Gothic style by the Germans, the famous Germans of the Volga River, who migrated to that area surrounding Saratov and Samara invited by Catherine II. They preserved the German language and even enjoyed a status of Oblast during the Soviet Union times, called Volga German Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (Autonome Sozialistische Sowjet-Republik der Wolga-Deutschen) with its capital in Kosakenstadt, that in 1941 was cancelled because Stalin feared that they might help the German invaders, and most were sent to Kazakhstan and other inhospitable areas of URSS where a third of them died from hunger.
Recently, after the Perestroika, most Germans migrated to Germany, but still many thousands of them live in the town, together with Russians, Jews, Tatars, Ukrainians, etc.
I spent a full day in Saratov, mainly walking along the pedestrian street, where there were many shops and cafeterias (even a McDonalds!).
In front of the Conservatory there was a park with attractions for children, and a most beautiful church. Not far from there I visited a museum devoted to the famous Russian writer Alexander Radishev.
After Saratov I took a train to Astrakhan.
Saratov bridge was the longest of Russia and Europe.
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