After days of taiga and grey Soviet towns, Komsomolsk-na-Amure comes as a charming surprise with its attractive Stalin-era centre and pleasant Amur River setting. Built virtually from scratch in the 1930s as a vital cog in the Soviet Union’s military industrial complex, Komsomolsk’s name comes from the thousands of Communist Youth League volunteers who built the town alongside Gulag labourers.
Imitating the tsars, Stalin erected elaborate neoclassical buildings in the city centre and then festooned them with stars and statues of model Soviet citizens. (Lonely Planet)
Komsomolsk is a Soviet-era planned city with wide tree-lined boulevards, set against the broad Amur River. It is set in the middle of vast, hilly forestland, and is miles away from anywhere larger than a small village.
The city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur was first established as a settlement in 1860 and was known as Performs. As industry started to expand and factories started to appear, the settlement was given the status of town and renamed in 1932. Built virtually from scratch from 1932 onwards as a vital cog in the Soviet Union’s military industrial complex, Komsomolsk’s name comes from the thousands of Communist Youth League volunteers who built the town alongside forced labour from the ‘Gulag Archipelago’ (the Stalin-era secret network of prison camps). Its largest plants produced aircraft and ocean-going vessels.
Komsomolsk-on-Amur (Komsomolsk-na-Amure) today is the third largest city in the Russian Far East (RFE) after Vladivostok and Khabarovsk. The city economy is based on manufacturing, which accounts for 74 percent of the total output and 38 percent of employment.
This is the home of the famous fighter aircraft marque, Sukhoi, which is Russia’s largest aircraft-manufacturing company. Built in 1934, the aircraft plant has now manufactured hundreds of civil aircraft and thousands of various-role military aircraft from the first reconnaissance aircraft to modern Su- series fighters and light amphibian aeroplanes.
Komsomolsk-on-Amur has grown into a successful industrial and business centre, as well as an offbeat tourist destination. It still has breathtaking monuments from the Soviet era scattered across the city, as a reminder to the past, but has become a modernised city that looks toward the future.
Theatre enthusiasts will be thrilled to know that Komsomolsk-on-Amur does have a theatre. Two of the major attractions are the Komsomolsk-on-Amur Folklore Museum and the Komsomolsk-on-Amur Fine Arts Museum.
The Folklore Museum has an astounding collection of ethnographic items, archeological artefacts, natural history exhibits, documents, photos and various other interesting displays.
The Fine Art Museum prides itself on its vast exhibits of paintings, sculptures, graphic arts, wood carvings, mosaics, fabric and clothing exhibits, embroideries, weavings and much more.