"A Crossroads where Traditional Blends with Modern" Saratov by WorldPassenger

Saratov Travel Guide: 46 reviews and 150 photos

With a name that translates from the original Tatar as "Yellow Mountain," Saratov is a city brimming in rich history, and its geography offers a unique mix of river and steppe that does not lose its charm when winter arrives.

Saratov today has a population of close to 1 million, yet it manages to retain a distinctly provincial feel. Its small airport is not equipped to handle large passenger jets, but it is located a convenient 20-minute drive from the city center, a ride that allows visitors their first glimpse of the gorgeous expanse of steppe that surrounds Saratov as well as the graceful charm of the Volga River.

Saratov first arose on the right bank of the Volga River just above the city's present-day location, after Tsar Ivan the Terrible finally defeated the remnants of the Mongol 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.

Long a merchant city and crossroads, Saratov turned into a major commercial and industrial center for the Volga region. Today, Saratov is an engineering and manufacturing hub for, among others, airplanes, refrigerators, automated machine tools, glass, bearings, synthetic fibers, electronics, and space communications.

Saratov is a very typical Russian city and sees far fewer Western tourists than Moscow or St Petersburg. Little-known to foreigners, Saratov was a “closed” city until 1992. This was a major military aircraft manufacturing site and a vital part of the Soviet space program. Outsiders were not welcome. I am happy to tell you that those days are over and Saratovians will warmly welcome you to visit their city!

Saratov is also an area rich in mineral resources. Gas, oil, oil shale, peat, chalk, sand, limestone, phosphate, semi-precious aragonite, dolomite and mineral water are among the chief resources of the area.

Saratov’s historic town center has houses and churches that are hundreds of years old. In pre-revolutionary times it was, however, most famous for having the longest straight street of any city in Europe, Moskovskaya (Moscow) Street.

Besides having some very nice parks and a riverside promenade, Saratov is also regarded as a city with solid theatrical traditions, and many actors seek to come here.

Although not an actor, I did want to take an opportunity to see the Volga River while I was working in Russia. I came to this city in April and that was a nice time to visit. The weather had just cleared and had warmed up. Saratov does have cold winters and hot summers as it is in the lower steppe region of Asia. But my visit was in mild weather just right for walking around and seeing the sights.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Beautiful site along the Voga; friendly people; interesting place
  • Cons:Hard to get to it; English is not abundant; few western-style hotels
  • In a nutshell:I enjoyed Saratov and seeing the Volga
  • Last visit to Saratov: Apr 2008
  • Intro Updated Jul 13, 2008
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Reviews (16)

Comments (3)

  • Yarusa's Profile Photo
    Oct 24, 2009 at 3:23 PM

    A nice picture! But don't you mind if I correct the description a little. This is the old automobile bridge constructed in 1965. It is 1.7 miles (or 2.8km) long indeed. The newest one is about 12 km.

  • Oct 21, 2009 at 10:32 AM

    Just a note to add to WorldPassenger's great descriptions - we traveled everywhere by train, and what a wonderful experience that was! I highly recommend the relaxing 16-hour train ride between Moscow & Saratov.

  • eugini2001's Profile Photo
    Mar 22, 2009 at 6:07 PM

    Awesome page.I think you are the only one who mentioned gas industry in Saratov.This industry helped a lot of people (Russians) to move there from Asia after 1991.

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