You probably have some basic knowledge of Voronezh, but here are some things you may not know yet:
Voronezh is situated in one of Russia’s top ten regions.
The city is the kingpin of south-east Russia, within which is concentrated the lion's share of the region's industry and commerce, not to mention its steadily growing population. Just over 1 million people live in Voronezh itself and around 1.5 million within an hour's drive of the city.
Although Voronezh is situated in the heart of Russia, 550km from Moscow, in a particularly fertile agricultural area known as the Black Soil Region, it is an industrial city and is famous for its aeronautical and space industry.
A sample of the exceptionally fertile Voronezh black soil is exhibited in the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (Paris, France).
Founded as a fortress in 1584, owing to its unique location at the crossroads of important transport routes, at the end of the 17th century Voronezh becomes the biggest trading point in south-east Russia.
Voronezh, known as “The Cradle of the Russian Fleet”, owes this name to the fact that in the 17th century Peter the Great built his famous fleet here (first fleet ever built in Russia), which changed the course of Russian history. Goto Predestinatsia, the first Russian ship of the line, was built in Voronezh in 1700.
Legend has it that, starting to build the Russian Navy in Voronezh, Peter the Great ordered the country's most beautiful girls to be brought to the city. The constructors fell in love, got married, and stayed in Voronezh. The beautiful women had daughters that were just as beautiful. It is now traditional to hold an annual beauty contest on the eve of International Women's Day.
The Yacht Club of Voronezh dates back to 1874. Organized as an amateur club called The Storm, it was later renamed and became the Petrovskii Yacht Club of the Olympic Reserve.
During World War II, Voronezh was the scene of fierce fighting and was almost completely destroyed by the Nazis. 92% was in ruins and what was left was turned into a huge minefield. However, by 1950 the city was rebuilt and many historic buildings were recreated or restored to their original beauty.
Voronezh Aviation Plant was the first one in the world to start the mass production of the Tupolev Tu-144 plane. It became the first commercial supersonic transport aircraft with normal cruising speed twice the speed of the sound, reaching 2,500km per hour. A Tu-144 carrying 150 passengers could cover the distance between Moscow and London in ninety minutes.
Blagoveshchenskiy Kafedralniy Sobor, built in 2009, is the 4th tallest Orthodox Church in the world, being topped by the largest cross in Europe.
Most festivals, including the City Day, Liberation Day, and Victory Day, are capped off with fireworks. The city guests and residents watch them from the esplanade or from the "Don" restaurant, where they can also enjoy the bird's eye panorama of Voronezh.
Famous Russian writers A. Platonov and I. Bunin were born in Voronezh.
Voronezh is home to the annual international Platonov Arts Festival, which is definitely not to be missed.
In the Orlenok amusement park, there is a bronze monument to Osip Mandelshtam. The poet's "Voronezh Notebooks" made the city famous all over the world. This cycle of poems is rightfully considered to be the summit of Mandelshtam's poetic career.
Among the less conventional monuments is one to a kitten called Vasiliy, the character from the Soviet cartoon “Kitten from Lizyukova street”, which is definitely one of the mascots and symbols of the city. Having been magically turned into a hippo and transferred to Africa, Vasiliy retains his kitten's habits, as well as his love of his home on Lizyukova Street. There is indeed a real-life Lizyukova Street in the Northern District of Voronezh, which is where the monument to Vasiliy is located.
Another mascot of the city, tenderly loved by Voronezhers, is the monument to the Dog named White Bim Black Ear, the hero of an incredibly touching book by Voronezh writer Gavriil Troepolsky. The film based on this book had an Academy Award nomination as Best Foreign Language Film. This is the only monument dedicated to a canine literary character in the world. The heart-melting monument was put just on the pavement, without a pedestal, in the square in front of the Puppet Theatre, for children to pet and hug the dog, and tug him by his bronze ear. You can read on his collar, “His name is Bim. He is waiting for his master. People, don’t offend him”. All schoolchildren and students of Voronezh fondly call it Bimka and know that if you want to pass an exam successfully you should stroke Bim’s nose before it.
Since the foundation of Voronezh State University in 1918, Voronezh has become a well-acknowledged educational centre. Today Voronezh is home to over 30 higher education establishments providing training for over 120,000 students in various specializations. Every 20th student in Voronezh is a foreigner.