|Penzenskaya Region was formed as a subject of the Russian Federation in its present borders on the 4 th of February 1939. It is located in the East European (Russian) Plain. The region occupies the central and the western part of Privolzhsky height.
Maximum E->W distance is 330 km and maximum N->S distance is 204 km . Penzenskaya Region covers a total area of 43.3 thousand square kilometers.
The city of Penza is the administrative center of Penzenskaya Region (it has a population of 519.3 thousand people).
The population of the Penzenskaya Region is 1,489.7 thousand people. People of over 80 nationalities live in the region. Penzenskaya Region includes many nationalities. Representatives of the Slavic, Finno-Ugric and Turkish peoples live in the region.
Penzenskaya region is located within the temperate continental climate zone , at the junction of forested, steppe-forested, and native steppe zones.
Natural conditions in the region are diverse. Plain relief with hillocks creates favorable economic conditions. The region is mostly occupied by the western part of Privolzhsky height and only the extreme west end is occupied by the eastern part of Oksko-Don plain.
There are more than 200 rivers in the region. The large rivers are Sura, Moksha, Khoper and Vorona.
Natural vegetation covers about 1/3 of the surface area. Forest and meadow landscapes in the North and North-East are changing in the South by meadow-steppe and steppe landscapes . Mixed and broad-leaved forests cover 20% of the territory. They use the forest resources much more for water and soil conserving, recreation purposes than for industrial purposes. In general, steppes are ploughed. Only few parcels of virgin steppe are conserved (Poperechensk, Kuncherovsk, Ostrovtsov Steppe Reserves).
The fauna of the region is varied. Within the region limits there are about 60 species of mammals, 30 species of fish, and more than 200 species of birds. Many game-preserves and hunting preserves are situated in Penzenskaya Region. Penzenskaya region is one of the regions with the most favourable natural conditions for health (flat country, moderate hot summer, reasonably cold winter, low swampy soil, comparatively big quantity of woodlands etc.).
Climate is moderately continental . From the west to the east, a more continental climate predominates. The precipitation is the most unstable climate element. Spring droughts are typical for the region, however summer and autumn droughts are rather frequent too.
The earliest traces of human activity in the region date back to the Neolithic epoch. A southern cattle-breeding tribe came to the land in the bronze century later followed by a tribe of primitive farmers, cattle herders, and hunters. Local archeologists have also discovered settlements of ancient Mordovians, dating to the first century.
In the middle ages, together with Mordovian tribes a burtas-turkic tribe settled the land. During the domination of the Golden Hord the Tatar feudal state arose on trade ways.
In the 15th century Russians settled in vast territories of Prisurje, increasing in number through the 16th century. After the conquest of Kazan’ by Ivan Grozny and the fall of Kazan’ Khanate in 1552 Penzenskaya region was incorporated into the Russian state.
In the middle of the 17th century Russian discoverers of unknown lands approached the river Penza where it runs into the river Sura. Here by a decree from Tzar Aleksey Mikhailovich the town of Penza was founded in 1663.
Lieutenant-General Ivan A.Stupishin was the first Governor of Penzenskaya region from the 31st of December 1780 to the 13th of March 1796 later followed by the councilor of State, Major-General Mikhail Y.Gedeonov, from the 13th of March 1796 to the 15th of March 1797.
The history of Penzenskaya region is inseparably connected with many glorious names of statesmen, military men, scientists, cultural workers, and figures in education, medicine and sport.
Penzenskaya region occupied the territory of 34129.1 square versts (1 verst=1.06 km). To the 1st of January 1911 total population of Penzenskaya region was 1909610 people. Penzenskaya region was formed as a subject of the Russian Federation in its present borders in 1939. It occupied the territory of 44.5 square kilometers and had a population of 1,550,000 people. Now the region occupies the territory of 43.3 square kilometers and it has a population of 1504.1 thousand people. The region is divided into 28 districts, 4 towns of district submission, 11 towns, 16 settlements of city type and 376 village administrations.
Hunting and Fishing
The Penzenskaya region is favorable for sport-hunting and fishing tourism. Numerous rivers and over 1200 lakes and ponds attract thousand of fishermen. They can catch pikes and pike perches, sturgeons and carps, breams and crams -more than 40 species on the whole. Those ones who fished at least once prove that it is a real paradise for fishing. Good catch is proved here all summer long- since early May till late September.
In Penzenskaya region rich hunting areas occupying four million hectoares of forests and open lands were created. 27 species of animals and up to 20 those of birds live there. You can be offered to chase a hare (horseback as well), and also to hunt foxes and hounds, wild boars, black grousers, wood grousers, hazel hens and wild ducks. You may need a special license to shoot ungulates. But the most catching thing you can be suggested by local hunter is chasing wolves. That attraction you can find in Serdobsk, Belinsky and Nikolsk Districts.
17 complex hunting reserve areas were created in the region. Those are special guarded territories where under limited use of natural resources some kinds of animals, birds and plants are temporally protected. In the reserves animals are fed during winter periods. Feds are stored up there, and predatory beasts are exterminated.
There are about 200 acting churches in the region nowadays. Four monasteries of the Penza diocese out of 22 (for 1911) were restored; Troitse-Scanov convent in Narovchat, Troitsky Nunnery in Penza, St. Tikhvinsky Convent in Kerensk and Vladimirsky cloister in Big Vyass.
Being in Penza you can hardly avoid visiting Troitse-Scanov convent in Narovchat, Penzenskaya region. It is an architectural monument of stone design, or, as it is also called-the pearl of Penza land. The most sacred thing in the convent attracting piligrims from all Russian is Trubchev Icon of the Virgin Mary. In about two kilometers from the convent inside Poldskaya mountain- well-known its miraculous spring- there is a labyrinth of caves, where monks-hermits used to live. The Scanov caves (670 m long) surpass length of the outstanding Kiev-Pechorskaya Lavra caves.
In Ablyazovo village there is an acting christmas church erected in 1724. Its unique cut iconostasis was made in baroque style in the middle of the 18th century. Near Kerensk there is an ancient St. Tikhvinsky Convent where a unique religious museum works. The architectural ensemble of the 18thcentury is of great historical value: the five-dome Troitsky Cathedral combines baroque style evolving into classicism.
Many springs are marked with special God's favor, and crowds of pilgrims rush there. Special belfries' cover protect the holy springs in Big Vyass, old Stepanovka, Lomovka (Lunino district) and a lot of other villages.
Great complexes were built in Saloleika (Nizhny Lomov district) and Solovtsovka (Penza district). The spring in Olenevka (Penza district) is quite popular, as old St. John Olenevsky used to prey there.
One more important merit of provincial Penza is its cultural heritage. There are more than 100 monuments of history and culture in the region.
Fate lavishly presented this old land many talented people: historian Klyuchevsky, great Russian poet Mikhail Lermontov, writers and critis Belinsky, Ogarev, Redishev, Zagoskin, Kuprin, Saltykov-Schedrin, Malyshkin, famous surgeon Burdenko and pediatrist Filatov, etc. For those ones who go on for cultural-informative tourism we can add: Penza always was a "nobility nest of Russia". Brilliant names of Pushkin, Denis Davydov, Suvorov are connected with Penza.
The estate of the great Russian commander was in Mokshan District, now it is Suvorovo village. Meyerhold was born and lived here for 21 years. The outstanding reformer Speransky was among Penza Governors. During excursions you often hear "the only one in Russia". There are unique museums of Stage Arts names after V.E. Meyerhold, Radischev and One Canvas museum.
A very interesting exposition attracts tourists in the picture gallery named after Savitsky, a famous artist born in Penza as well. There are over 4000 masterpieces of Russian, Soviet and foreign painters. There you can see paintings, sculptures and graphics of the 17th-20th centuries.
It is curious to see various pieces of handicrafts represented in the Museum of Folk Crafts. Fluffy kerchiefs of white goat fluff, dolls of golden straw, Abachevo clay whistle, laces, arts forging, cut and decorated wooden pieces- all that yoy can see in the rich museum's compilation. The building itself is a charming mansion which is the original sample of the 19th century Russian wooden architecture.