James W. Meng

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Units: Foreword 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

20.1 20.2


Major Cities of Russia. Moscow.
20.1. Cities of Russia.

Russia today has many cities, large and small, in addition to the capitals of regions and territories. Today, about 74% of Russia's population lives in cities, of which the largest and best known are Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Ekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Samara, Omsk, Chelyabinsk, and Rostov-on-Don.

Saint Petersburg was founded in 1703 by Tsar Peter the Great. For over two centuries it was the capital of the Russian Empire. This city has also been known, during different periods of history, as Petrograd and then Leningrad. In 1991 its historical name of Saint Petersburg returned. Local residents and guests affectionately know the city as "Piter". Today, more than five million people live in Saint Petersburg. This beautiful city is also known as the cultural capital of Russia. It has many museums, theaters, parks, and concert halls. Of particular importance for tourists are the Hermitage, the Mariinsky Theater, the Russian Museum, and the Kunstkamera Museum.

During the Second World War, Saint Petersburg, then known as Leningrad, lived through a terrible blockade for nearly three years. Nevertheless, residents not only managed to retain control of the city, but were also able to render a tremendous amount of assistance to the front.

Novosibirsk, located in Siberia, is Russia's third largest city, and is home to more than half a million people. It is an industrial, commercial and cultural center that is also famous for the Novosibirsk Academgorodok, which hosts dozens of research institutes, a major university and other educational institutions.

Kazan is the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan, also known as the "Third Capital of Russia". The current official history claims that Kazan is more than one thousand years old. It was added to Russian territory following its conquest by Ivan the Terrible in 1552. In recent years, Kazan has developed and been restored actively, becoming an increasingly beautiful, modern, and cozy city.

But Russia's largest city is, naturally, its capital: the hero-city of Moscow.

20.2. Moscow - the Capital of the Russian Federation.

Moscow is the official capital of the Russian Federation, the largest city in Russia and one of the largest cities in Europe. Today, the population of Moscow is over 12 million people. It is estimated that an additional 2 million are temporary residents. Roughly 90% of the total population is ethnically Russian; other major ethnicities represented are Ukrainians, Tatars, Armenians, Azerbaijanis, Jews, Georgians, and others from countries of the former Soviet Union.

At virtually all times during its long and rich history Moscow has been an attractive center for young, energetic people - not only those from Russia, but also from abroad. In Moscow, Western Europeans such as Germans, French, and Dutch have long comfortably made their homes, and likewise Tartars, Armenians, Georgians, and others from the Russian near abroad have lived in Moscow for hundreds of years. Today, people from all corners of Russia move to Moscow and quite often find not only work, but also a new home and their own happiness.

Much poetry and music has been written about Moscow. Below are a few lines of a work by A.S. Pushkin:

Москва… как много в этом звуке
Для сердца русского слилось!
Как много в нём отозвалось!
Или стихи менее известного поэта Юлиана Левчука:
Со всей Руси летят в столицу,
Москва, как мать, к себе влечет,
И каждый к ней в душе стремится,
Свою любовь и грусть несёт.

Moscow has stood on Russian land for nearly one thousand years. Founded as an ancient settlement like many others, Moscow was first built as a small wooden fortress on the banks of a large, clean and bright river. But the first literary record of Moscow dates to 1147, in connection with the name of Prince Yuri Dolgorukiy. This new town was built against a backdrop of incredible natural beauty: massive coniferous forests interspersed with meadows along the banks of the Moscow river. The meadows flooded with the seasons, keeping the soil fertile and rich; the woods, rivers, and lakes teemed with game of land, sky, and sea. In place of the modern Kremlin on its picturesque hill was a dense forest, whose memory is still preserved in the name Borovitsky Gate.

Moscow's first residents built their city with hearts and minds, as though they knew it was destined to become the center of a powerful state and then its capital. Already by the beginning of the 13th century, craftsmen and merchants began to settle around the fortress in the settlements. And today we remember the Muscovites that lived in these plates by many modern landmarks whose traditional names remain: the Kuznetsky bridge, Stoleshnikov and Kalashny lanes, the Goncharnaya and Kotelnicheskaya embankments.

But Moscow's storied past is remembered not just in these few streets! In Vorobyovy Gory we remember the Time of Troubles and the Polish camp that then stood, meanacingly, as raids rained down on the Russian capital; on Poklonnaya Hill we remember Napoleon, who waited there in vain for the keys to the city; in the Donskoy Monastery we remember the deliverance of Moscow from the invasion of the Crimean Khan. And in the center, the heart of Moscow - the Kremlin, and Red Square. At nearly every step there are poignant reminders of a rich history that made its mark on the fate of Russia in its entirety.

As Moscow's population increased, the city itself grew. More than 800 years ago, the whole of Moscow could be found on a low hill - a small-town fortress, surrounded on all sides by a fence of thick oak logs. The Kremlin itself at that time was also entirely built from wood. Naturally, Moscovites dreamed of a city built from more durable material that could protect them from enemy raids and fires. But it was only in the 14th century, following a devastating fire, that the stone fortress we know today, with its snow-white walls and towers that we see over the Moscow river, was ordered by Prince Dmitry Donskoy. Masters from all over Russia came to participate in its construction. And at the end of the 15th century, when Grand Duke Ivan III proclaimed himself Sovereign of All Russia, Moscow became the capital of Russia.

Russians often comment that "Moscow was not built in just one day". Moscow survived the difficult tests of many centuries: fires and epidemics, riots and revolutions, attacks by foreign invaders. But each time, like a mythical Phoenix, Moscow returned to life, becoming more populous, more powerful, and more beautiful.

Moscow has stood for many centuries on Russian soil, but its historical memory is preserved in the names of streets and squares, in architectural ensembles, and in the many treasures of museums and palaces. Grateful Muscovites remember the founder of their city - and indeed not far from the Kremlin, on Tverskoy street, a bronze monument to Yuri Dolgorukiy was erected in 1954.