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Samara is situated on the left bank of the Volga-river, at the eastern frontier of the Samarskaya Luka (Bend) where the picturesque Zhiguly Mountains originate. At present Samarskaya Luka is a National Park.
It is one of those rare places where pre-glacial period relic plants and animals have remained thanks to the unique natural conditions.
Samara was founded as a fortress in 1586. It soon became the chief town of the district. After the formation of Samara province, it became the principal city. In the early 20th century Samara was a big trade center. Agricultural processing was predominant in the area.
The natural beauty of the Volga River attracted painters since olden times. Artists such as Repin, Ayvazovsky, Levitan, Savrasov painted from life on the Volga banks. The world famous writer A. Tolstoy spent his childhood and youth in this city. M. Gorky created more than 30 literary works when he lived in Samara.
During World War II, Samara (Kuibyshev at that time) became the second capital of the USSR. The largest defense plants, creative intelligentsia representatives (writers, actors, composers) and diplomatic corps were relocated here to escape the ravages of the war. Years passed and Samara grew into a large industrial and cultural center.
The main branches of industry here are mechanical engineering, oil production, power engineering and chemical. Local plants design and assemble modern aircrafts and space-sistern equipment. The city look has changed lately.
Today, Samara citizens enjoy many parks. The embankment on the Volga River is a favorite strolling area. Inimitable in their beauty are the city streets (due to the architectural variety of styles). One can see Empire, Modernist, Old Russian and Constructivist-style homes. These great numbers of eclectic buildings are prime examples of merchant architecture.
Whole districts of old houses with corner turrets and steeples, decorated with wooden fretwork, are preserved in this city. One must also admire the German church and the Gothic arches of the only Polish Roman Catholic church in the Volga area. The Orthodox church and cathedral domes sparkle in the blue sky.
The cultural assets of the city include the Philharmonic Society, opera and ballet, drama and children's theatres and many libraries, institutes and universities. Samara museums possess rich collections of unique art works. Picturesque Samara with its clear Volga water and sandy beaches attract people from different parts of the area.
Many riverboats form three and four-decker boats. These riverboats, along with cruise ships and hydrofoils, ply the waterways. Many tourists came daily to the city by these riverboats. Samara is a transportation hub with a large railway junction and international airport.