Tverskaya Region is located in the central part of the East European Plain and is one of the largest regions in European Russia, with a total area of 84 100 km2. It borders on Smolenskaya Region in the South, Novgorodskaya Region in the West, Volgogradskaya Region in the North, and Moscow Region in the East. It has a population of 1 651 000.
The region was formed on January 29, 1935, and until 1990 was called Kalininskaya Region. The largest cities are Tver, Rzhev, Vyshny Volochek, Kimry, and Torzhok.
The regional center is the city of Tver situated on the upper Volga. The city arose in 1180 out of craft trading settlements located next to monasteries not far from the mouth of the Tvertsa River.
The main rivers of the region are the Volga, Mologa, and Tvertsa. There are hundreds of lakes, including Seliger Lake, and nine reservoirs. The climate is temperate continental with an average January temperature of -9 °C, an average July temperature of +17 °C.
The region is located in the southern taiga and subtaiga zones. Forests consisting mainly of spruce and pine cover nearly 50% of the region's territory.
According to archival information, there was already a settlement on the point of land at the confluence of the Tmaka and Volga rivers in the 9th and 10th centuries. A fortress was built on the site much later, during the fighting between the Rostov-Suzdal princes and Novgorod.
In the 15th century, Tver was a large trade and cultural center and one of Russia's most developed cities.
In 1708, Tver became part of the newly established province of Ingermanland (St. Petersburg from 1710 onward), and then in 1727, was added to Novgorod Province.
Aleksandr Pushkin visited Tver a number of times between 1820 and 1830; and celebrated figures such as poet Fedor Glinka, dramatist Aleksandr Ostrovsky, writers Fedor Dostoevsky, Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin, Ivan Lazhechnikov, and Aleksandr Ertel and many others lived here in the 19th century.
The city's development kept up with the times. All events occurring in Russia were reflected in its social, political, and cultural life.
Educational institutions, including a theological seminary, the Maksimovich Women's Teacher's College, a diocesan women's school, and a women's business school were built in Tver in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Hotels, religious institutions, living quarters for workers, housing for workers at the Morozovskaya and Pozhdestvenskaya factories, the National Theater, a post office, and a bank were also built.
In 1929, Tver Province became the center of a division and then of a district of Moscow Region.
In 1930, a new government-inspired campaign in the fight to separate church and state was launched in Tver, in which nearly all bell towers were demolished. In 1931, Tver was renamed Kalinin and became the center of the newly formed Kalinin Region.
In 1989, a joint session of the city and district Soviets of People's Deputies of Kalinin decided to restore the city's historic name of Tver. A celebration in honor of the restoration of the city's true name was held on July 29, 1990. Tver's coat of arms, first approved by Empress Catherine II (Catherine the Great) in 1780, was officially reinstated on November 16, 1990.
Tverskaya Region has the largest explored Mineral water reserves used for medicinal purposes. A resort has been built around the well known Kashinka mineral waters, and there are other springs near Torzhok (Mitino) and Konakovo (Karacharovo).
Tverskaya Region has abundant water resources. There are more than 600 large lakes and many smaller lakes, including Seliger Lake, the jewel of the territory, and more than 800 rivers and streams with a combined length of 17 000 km. The Volga, Dnieper, Western Dvina (Daugava), and Msta rivers have their sources in Tverskaya Region. Much of the region lies in the Caspian Sea basin, except for the western and northwestern districts, which lie in the Baltic Sea basin.
The largest lakes are Seliger, Sterzh, Vselug, Peno, Volgo, Sig, Kaftino, and Velikoe. Residents of Moscow and Moscow Region drink water from Tverskaya Region; and the main watershed of European Russia runs along the Valdai Hills in the western part of the region, forming a source of drinking water for European Russia, Belarus, and the Baltic countries.
Most of the region is located in the forest zone. Mixed coniferous-deciduous forests cover 4.5 million hectares, the most heavily forested areas being the southwestern and northwestern districts (50-70%). In addition to the most common species (spruce, pine, and birch), you may encounter the occasional oak, maple, ash, elm, larch, cedar, and other trees that are fairly rare in these areas. Heather and juniper grow on the hills and uplands; rowan bushes with moss and lingonberries, on the dry plains; and Labrador tea, ragged robin, and blueberries, in the wet lowlands. Dryland meadows cover nearly 2 million hectares, and floodplain meadows are found in river valleys.
Reeds, cattails, horsetail, lilies, white water lilies, duckweed, squill, vetch (a plant with a poisonous root), water crowfoot, Elodea, parrot feather, pondweed, and hornwort grow luxuriously on all small lakes. According to local residents, swans inhabit a small remote lake known as Swan (Lebyazhye) Lake. Large tracts of lingonberries and cranberries grow in the region. Many birds and animals find refuge in the deep forest.
Large numbers of wild animals live in the region's still relatively undisturbed forests. Among them are hoofed animals like elk, roe deer, and wild boar and fur-bearing animals, such as bears, wolves, lynx, foxes, raccoon dogs, squirrels, martens, hares, polecats, stoats, and weasels. Animals like the beaver, mink, and otter live in the rivers and streams.
The elk is considered the crowning glory of the forest. Young pines and willow and aspen brush make a good forage reserve for animals. The beautiful, graceful European roe deer is occasionally encountered in the forests here, and wild boar hide in reed beds and other vegetation around bogs in summer. The shaggy brown bear considers himself the master of the forests. In summer, you often see the tracks of this enormous but usually peaceful beast on remote sandy roads and paths. It inhabits evergreen forests, where there are a lot of fallen trees and ant hills.
Enormous numbers of birds can be seen and heard in the region. In spring and early summer, the land is filled with the sound of bird voices and songs. Hazel grouse whistle in the fir woods, and woodpeckers tap. Nightingales trill in cherry bushes. Thrushes and chiffchaffs sing, and cuckoos cry "cuckoo". The capercaillie (or wood grouse), the largest and wariest bird of the Russian forests, lives deep within swampy spruce and pine thickets. The characteristic drumming of black grouse is often heard in spring in birch forests, clearings, fields, and forest borders. Woodcock like to put on displays in low forest and young birch and aspen woods and above meadows, roads, and cuttings. Snipe are often heard above moist hollows. Enormous flocks of ducks, more rarely geese, and occasionally swans descend on the lakes in spring and fall.
Fish such as bream, pike perch, pike, perch, roach, bleak, silver bream, smelt, and ruff are common inhabitants of the region's lakes and rivers. Ide, tench, crucian, burbot, vendace, cyprinid, gudgeon, eels, and peled are more rarely caught. Single cisco, grayling, asp, sicklefish, carp, rudd, lamprey, dace, spined loach, bullhead, and loach are encountered. Trout are raised artificially on fish farms. Catfish are found in some lakes, and crayfish are found in some small lakes along with fish.
Tver is the heart of Russia in every sense of the word: as a land of forests, lakes, and rivers; as a historical and cultural center; and as the crossroads of domestic and international transportation routes. A varied landscape, beautiful nature, and a geographic location between Russia's two capitals have contributed to the prosperity of Tver Region. The large numbers of historical, archeological, architectural, and cultural monuments bear witness to Tver's vital activity from ancient times to the present. Tver Region is especially rich in monuments of the 13th-20th centuries. Fourteen cities in the region have been granted the status of "Monument to Town Planning". Fascinating walking, cycling, automobile, boat, and other tours have been developed for tourists.
Lovers of antiquity will be interested in learning about Tver's monasteries. The oldest of these are Boris and Gleb (12th century) and Otoroch-Uspensky (13th century). Nil's Hermitage, which marked its 400th anniversary in 1994, is an especially revered religious center.
Tver has 42 Orthodox churches and 1 Lutheran church. The buildings of 21 of these churches have been preserved, most of them built in the 13th-19th centuries. Transfiguration Cathedral, where the remains of the sainted Grand Prince Mikhail Yaroslavovich, killed by Tatar-Mongol forces in 1318, lie in a silver sepulcher, is unusually beautiful. The 14th century Church of the Holy Trinity is eyecatching with its silver cupolas and regal carved iconostasis gate. A mosque was opened in the city center in the late 19th century.
One of the city's most interesting historical monuments is the imperial palace (formerly Putevoi Palace, now the governor's residence) built in 1763 during the reign of Catherine the Great. Emperor Alexander I was a frequent visitor, and writer Nikolai Karamzin read the first chapters of his book History of the Russian State to him here. Today, there is a historical museum in one wing of the palace, where Stone Age tools, articles excavated from archeological digs, and other ancient objects, such as crosses, icons, coins, and textiles.
Another beautiful building preserved in the city center is the Tver Gymnasium (now the premises of a medical school and a workers' educational center) on Millionnaya St. Well-known writer Ivan Lazhechnikov was director of the gymnasium from 1831 to 1837. He was the author of the historical novels The Last Courtier, The Palace of Ice, and The Heretic and later vice-governor of Tver.
The original layout of the city center has been preserved to this day. The center was built on the site of major fires of 1767 and 1773 according to the designs of Russian architects I.I. Betsky and P.R. Nikitin in the time of Catherine the Great.
A beautiful columned hall adorns the building of the Assembly of the Nobility (now the Officers' House) dating from 1841. It was the creation of the famous architect Carlo Rossi and sculptor Ivan Vitali.
A monument to Russian explorer and narrator Afanasy Nikitin stands on the left bank of the river across from the city center.
Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin (vice-governor from 1860 to 1862) lived in Tver until 1917. The house on Rybatskaya St. where the writer once lived is now a memorial museum.
Fable writer Ivan Krylov served on the Tver city council in his younger years; and Fedor Dostoevsky stopped in Tver for several months in 1859 while returning from exile in Siberia.
Other famous Tver natives include aircraft designer Andrei Tupolev (1888-1972), writer Boris Polevoi (Kampov; 1908-1981), and Stalinist ideologue Andrei Zhdanov (1898-1948).
Tver is situated on the banks of five rivers: the Volga, the Tvertsa, the Tjmaka, The Lasur’ and the Somiginka. The city has been located between capitals, on the country’s main road since ancient times, that’s why its infrastructure was thoroughly developed by the governors. So Catherine II ordered to build up the city after the fire on the principle of the St.Petersburg’s Admiralty “segmental plan”. As a result, Tver has become the fourth city with such a plan after Rome, Versailles and St.Petersburg. Tver is proud of Mariinsk female gymnasium, the church of Ascension (1749), octagonal Lenin square, the Noble Assembly and Traveling palace buildings built at the same time in Empire style and the style of Loui XVI.
Tver is an ancient city founded in the 9th-10th centuries. In the 13th century it was an Alexander Nevsky’s lot and was the largest centre of the Russian people struggle against the Tatars in the 14th century. And its history’s every landmarket is represented in the city’s image. The main museum treasure is located in the building of the Traveling palace, where now is a picture gallery. It is one of the largest and most ancient museums in Russia (1866). It exhibits the showpieces of Russian hieratic art, Russian pictorial art, graphic arts, engraving, sculpture, furniture, Russian and Western Europe applied and decorative arts pieces. The youngest showpieces are dated with the 14th-15th centuries. The palace itself is an architectural and historical monument. Catherine Pavlovna with her consort prince Georg Oldenburgsky, who was in his turn the governor of several regions at a time, lived here. As per the design of Rossi the palace’s exterior and interior were performed in Empire style, then the building was reconstructed with the elements of “Louis XVI” style. The palace suffered during the Great Patriotic War and it was under reconstruction. So it has been the city’s decoration up to date.
Lots of legends are connected with the city’s history. It is neat and clear. And its suburbs are especially beautiful.