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Rostov-on-Don: Port for Five Seas

Ranked in 2010 as the tenth largest city in Russia by population, Rostov-on-Don, located on the Don River around 32 kilometers from the Sea of Azov, is an important port city and the administrative center of Russia's Rostov Oblast. Among its many interesting attractions and notable landmarks are the historic City Duma Office; the Maxim Gorky Theater; the striking Obelisk of Teatralnaya Square; the Rostovchanka statue; Maxim Gorky Park; the ancient Azov fortress; the Rostov state opera and ballet theatre; the Rostov circus; the Orthodox Cathedral of the Nativity of the Holy Virgin; the Museum of Local Lore, Rostov Regional Museum of Fine Arts' Museum of Russian and Armenian Friendship; and the Don Plaza Congress Center.

The area around the mouth of the River Don has been of commercial and cultural importance since ancient times. Nearby Taganrog's history goes back to the late Bronze Age and it is likely that the site which is now occupied by the city of Rostov-on-Don was inhabited at around that time. Ancient indigenous inhabitants of the region included the Sarmat, Scythian and Savromat tribes and it was the site of the ancient Greek colony of Tanais, which regarded the River Don as the boundary between Asia and Europe. The ancient site of Tanais is located around 30 kilometers to the west of Rostov on Don. It later came to be known as Fort Tana when ruled by the Genoese and at the time of the Ottoman Empire was known as Fort Azak.

In 1749 a custom house was established alongside a fortress named for Dimitry of Rostov, a bishop of the town of Rostov the Great in the Yaroslavl Oblast of Russia, on a tributary of the Don known as the Temernik River. The new settlement grew in size and importance and by 1796 was given the status of a township, with the name being changed to Rostov in 1806, and soon thereafter renamed to Rostov-on-Don. By the rime of the Russia Civil War, Rostov-on-Don was the most industrialized city of Southern Russia, and following conquests by first the White army and then the Red Army, the city became the seat of the regional government which moved from Novocherkassk in 1928. The city was occupied twice by German forces during World War II, as the town was the river port offering access to the oil and mineral-rich Caucasus. It took the city up to a decade to repair the damage done during the conflicts of the Second World War, the October Revolution and the Soviet era, which saw a number of the town's landmarks demolished, including the St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and St George Cathedral.

Today, Rostov-on-Don is a thriving trading port on a major shipping lane along the Don River. It is also an important passenger port, and with the 1952 construction of the Volga-Don Shipping Canal, Rostov-on-Don serves as a port for five seas – the Sea of Azov, the Black Sea, the White Sea, the Caspian Sea and the Baltic Sea.


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