The Saratov Region is a part of the Volga Federal District. Its area is 100 thousand sq. km, its population amounts to 2.6 million. The region is situated in the Moscow time zone.
The administrative centre of the region is the city of Saratov, situated 720 km away from Moscow.
The largest river of the region is the Volga. The region has a moderately continental climate, with a long and dry summer (the average temperature of June is +230) and frosty winter with fogs and snowstorms (the average temperature of January is —170).
Those who take interest in history should visit the regional local history museum, having a richest collection, and also the local history museums in the towns of Volsk, Khvalynsk, and Balashov.
Saratov was founded in 1590, but the present-day Saratov lies on the site of the town built in 1617. A theory exists that the name of the city means «Yellow Mountain» in the Tatar language — the Sokolovaya Mountain was called so. You should in any event visit the Natsionalnaya Derevnya (Ethnic Village) area, where the houses built in most diverse traditions such as the Georgian, the Ukrainian, the Uzbec, the Mordovian one, are standing side by side along the street.
The Saratov museum of glass is well-known, where the articles of local craftsmen are represented, including such original works as a glass floor or a glass bridge across a brook.
The most famous legend of the town of Volsk relates to the Zmeevy (Snake’s) Mountains. It is said that a gigantic snake lived there and was slashed by an unknown hero into three parts, which later petrified and are still lying on the bank.
Khvalynsk is famous for its wonderful apples; they form a part of many Russian meals, and in the former centuries they were supplied to the table of the Queen of England. Apples are represented in well-known artists’ paintings devoted to Khvalynsk or painted therein, such as Pink Still Life and Spring by Petrov-Vodkin and Petrov-Vodkin in Khvalynsk by Serov.
In the area of Kvalynsk, the Khvalynsk National Park is situated, where the region’s rich nature is preserved. The park is situated on the highest hills of the region, on a plateau with the elevation of 200 to 300 meters above sea level, and the Volga’s depth in the territory of the park is also the largest, reaching up to 22 meters. The flora of the park is outstandingly rich; for example, a rare chalky pine-tree (a relic and an endemic) can be found here, as well as 21 species of plants entered into the Red Book and a lot of other rare and medicinal plants. Many kinds of predatory birds (white-tailed eagles, ospreys, saker falcons) and animals (beavers, hares, badgers) inhabit the territory of the park. Famous natural monuments are located in the park: the Belenkaya Mountain, the Vorontsov-Dashkov Park (where an old country estate with introduced silver firs has survived), and the Khvalynsk springs. Environmental paths are laid through the park such as Peshchera Monakha (Monk’s Cave), Puteshestvie po Dnu (Travel on the Bottom) and Mikhailovskie Rassvety (Mikhailovsky Dawns), walking along which you can watch the ecosystems of the forest, learn the life of its inhabitants, in particular, ants, and the path Puteshestvie po Dnu Drevnego Morya (Travel on the Bottom of an Ancient Sea) represents the geologic history of the region. If your children are with you, you should in any event visit the Teremok forest museum, where deer may be fed out of your hands.
If you leave Saratov, you may watch the change of natural zones: 15 to 20 kilometers away from the city, arid steppes and semi-deserts begin.
Many interesting routes linked with the region’s history and legends are laid over the Saratov Region, for example, the Atamanova Taiga route, in the course of which the tourists learn the story of a famous highwayman Kudeyar and watch the Kudeyar Cave. Other routes are linked with the names of Stepan Razin and Emelyan Pugachev. Those taking interest in the history of more recent times should visit the Saratov Museum of Yury Gagarin, since it was the Saratov Region where Yury Gagarin made his first flight, parachuted for the first time, and, on 12 April 1961, landed after the space flight.
Those who want, when having rest, to get the maximum of impressions from the beauty of nature may try rafting on the rivers Khoper and Medveditsa by boats or catamarans, or fishing, where pikes, asps, carps, breams, crucians, and other fishes may be among your trophies. An extreme tourism club works in the region, regularly holding various rallies and contests.
For more detailed information on the Region, please refer to Internet resources of governmental authorities of the constituent entity of the Russian Federation.