In 1743, the present capital city, Orenburg, was founded as a fortress on the cross of the Yaik and Sakmara rivers. It was an important military outpost on the frontier with the nomad Kazakhs. After Central Asia was incorporated into the Russian Empire, Orenburg became a trading station and a prominent railway junction on the way from the new Central Asian possessions and Siberia.
From 1920 to 1925 Orenburg was the capital of the Kyrgyz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic of Russia (renamed Kazakh Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic in 1925, presently called Kazakhstan). In 1938 it was renamed Chkalov and in 1957 back to Orenburg.
Scientific potential of the Orenburg region is high. There are 1,560 schools, 45 colleges and 10 universities in the region: the Orenburg State University, State Agricultural University, State Medicine Academy, Pedagogical University and others.
There are several professional theatres in Orenburg including Gorky Regional Theatre of Drama, Theatre of Musical Comedy, Faizy Tatar Dramatic Theatre and Puppet Theatre. The main places of interest also include the Philharmonic Hall, the Museum of Local Lore, the Museum of Fine Arts, Gostiny Dvor (1749-1754), and Caravansarai (1836-1842).
Among the most famous regional handicrafts is shawl-making. Traditionally, warm clothing made of goat was a necessity in severe winters. The famous Orenburg woven shawls are made entirely by hand. They are handspun and hand knitted from the finest down of goats in the region of Orenburg near Ural Mountains. The shawls may be bought in the city.