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Ivan the Terrible built what we now know today as Saratov on the northernmost colony of the former Greek Empire following its great destruction in the 14th century. The name, some historians believe, is derived from a branch of the Turkic languages, in which it means “Hawk’s Island”. From its establishment up to the 20th century Saratov grew into a prominent economic and military hub for Russia. This is due mostly to its location on the Volga river. Throughout World War I and II, Saratov saw an influx of German immigrants which resulted from their relocation to Siberia and Kazakhstan and also became a key point on the military railroad serving Stalingrad.

It subsequently became a center of aircraft production during the Cold War and also produced one of Russia's proudest citizens: Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space. It was one of the many secrets of the Soviet Union as it remained designated as a “closed city” (one of the cities to which the Soviet Union banned entry to all foreigners) up until the regime fell in 1991. With it now open to the public, the neo-gothic Conservatory, Saratov drama theatre and a multitude of museums amidst make it a sparkling destination.

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