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Russians start actively populate territories near the Volga River in 14th century. Ancient chronicles mention settlements appearing on the banks of Oka, Volga and Kudma Rivers, and same time period is notable for foundation of the Nizhniy Novgorod princedom. With time Nizhniy Novgorod and its southern satellites become dependent on Moscow grand princes. One of said settlements is called Arzamas. Exact date of Arzamass establishment is unknown, however, a legend, describing its destruction by Tatars in 1366, exists. As a Russian fortress, Arzamas is mentioned since second half of 16th century. At that time Ivan the Terrible attack Kazan and Astrakhan, and Arzamas enters a proud crowd of defense forts of Russian eastern borders. In 1576 the town welcomes first eminent Russian military leader Grigory Bobrov-Schenyatiev, and this year is considered to be the year Arzamas is founded.

First detailed description of the Arzamas fortress dates back to the second half of 16th century. The fortress consists of a town, surrounded by a log wall, and a prison, walled in a pointed fence. The city is protected by eleven watch towers, which gates boast reliable latches. Town satellite settlements Melnichnaya and Vyezdnaya are located behind the prison, and near the Soroka River the Spassky monastery stands on a hill.

When Russias borders move southwards, Arzamas fortress loses its defense importance, however, the town becomes a centre of lively trade. Due to location on trade ways crossroads, Arzamas rapidly develops. The town welcomes merchants, who travel through Arzamas on their way to various fairs. The town has many inns, backsmith's shops, coach shops and saddleries. Peasants carry to Arzamas various handicraft products, and local merchants open many small works on processing livestock products.

Arzamas participates in events, well-known in Russia in 1670 rebel Stepan Rasin gathers hordes of his followers and conquers town after town. He stops near Arzamas, and in case of invading the town, Russian history would have been totally different, because behind the town lie Moscow and Central Russia. Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich turns Arzamas to a mighty fortress and sends thousands of soldiers to protect it. A month is enough for tsar servants to smash the rebels and to punish their aiders over 11 thousand people are executed. Another famous Russian rebellion, which happens in 1773-1775 and is headed by Yemelyan Pugachev, again brings disorder to Arzamas region. Great Russian military leader Alexander Suvorov makes a strong career step during fighting Pugachev's troops.

In 1779 Arzamas obtains status of a district town and enters Nizhny Novgorod county, and three years later the town receives coat-of-arms. In the end of 18th century Arzamas suburbs become famous for establishing hermitage of Seraphim Sarov, Russian saint.

Eighteenth century brings steep economic rise to Arzamas. Golden age of the town lasts for almost a century. Technology results in plants with machinery and steam engine. Enterprises produce various mechanisms and metal objects. Towns face becomes made of stone donations of local rich help new churches to appear in Arzamas. In 1787 the town opens first educational institution.

Navigation on the Volga river and railways connecting Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod and Samara change traffic flows, and Arzamas finds itself beyond main transport arteries. Trade abruptly stops, and the only thing that keeps the town going is goose breeding these birds are famous all across Russia, and Moscow, Saint Petersburg and other large cities long to buy them. 20th century makes economic situation in Arzamas slightly better. Railway, connecting the town with Nizhny Novgorod, and later with Moscow and Kazan, expands towns economic and cultural relations with surrounding territories.

World War I allows local businessmen to get profitable arms contracts, enhances local production and drift of labor to Arzamas. The town obtains a telephone station and updates telegraph communications. All this makes Arzamas on of largest Russian industrial cities.

Modern Arzamas lists among Russian historical cities. Its industrial node includes instrument making works, radio manufacturing plant, special vehicle plant, distillery and other enterprises. The city trains teachers and engineers and welcomes visitors to its museums.




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  (Nizhny Novgorod Region)

Cities of the region

    Nizhny Novgorod


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