• COUNTRY Russia
  • POPULATION 473,700
  • LANGUAGES Russian
  • NOTABLE LANDMARKS Assumption Cathedral (1689)

Also known as Vyatka, Kirov is one of Russia’s oldest cities, standing on the banks of the Vyatka River, 896 km north-east of Moscow.¬† Kirov was formerly a fur-trading centre and used by Moscow as a place of exile.

The fort of Khlynov, situated just west of the Ural Mountains, was founded by Novgorodian entrepreneurs in 1181. It is first mentioned as a town in documents from 1374. Khlynov was incorporated into Muscovy in 1489 and became known throughout Russia for its clay statuettes and whistles. It was also governed by the Khanate of Kazan.

In 1781 Catherine the Great renamed Khlynov to Vyatka and made it the centre of a separate guberniya. The town also served as a place of exile, notably for Alexander Herzen, Alexander Vitberg and Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin. By the end of the 19th century, it was an important station on the Trans-Siberian railway. In December 1934, it was renamed for the Soviet leader Sergey Kirov, who had been assassinated on December 1.

Generally, not a lot of specific sights, apart from the pretty river banks, but the town as a whole is rich in history. The town’s oldest surviving monument is the Assumption Cathedral (1689), an imposing structure surmounted by five globular domes.

Further sights include the Marshal Konev Monument,the ornate House of the Merchant Bulychev and the beautiful Aleksandrovskiy Cathedral. Kirov maintains some intriguing museums, including the Chocolate History Museum and the Dymkovskaya Toy Museum, along with cultural institutions such as the Vyatka Vasnetsovs’ Art Museum and Modern Art Centre.

The city of Kirov boasts many green spaces and parks, including the Botanical Garden and Alexander Garden with its iconic gazebo.