Orlovskaya region is located in the southwestern part of European Russia and is part of the Central economic district. It borders on Kaluzhskaya and Tulskaya regions in the North, Bryanskaay region in the West, Kurskaya region in the South, and Lipetskaya region in the East. The region extends more than 150 km from the North to the South and more than 200 km from the West to the East.
Orlovskaya region is one of the smaller Russian regions, with an area of 24 700 square km. It has a population of 911 600 people. The largest cities are Livny and Mtsensk
Orlovskaya region is situated in the center of the Central Russian Uplands within the steppe and forest steppe zones. It has a temperate continental climate with an average January temperature of -8 °C and an average July temperature of +18 °C.
In recent years, there has been great emphasis on the development of education in Orlovskaya region. Many higher educational institutions operate in the region, in particular, a pedagogical university, a technical university, a military institute of governmental relations, and an agricultural academy, which graduate highly trained professionals for various economic sectors.
The administrative center is the old Russian city of Orel, founded by Ivan the Terrible as a fortress city in 1566. Today, it is a beautiful modern center with a unique architectural character combining historical and contemporary buildings. The city is divided into four districts; it has a population of about 347 000 people.
The region is an old territory with a wealth of historical and cultural traditions, which gave the world outstanding writers such as Ivan Turgenev and Leonid Andreev and the philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin. The creative work of writers and poets Leskov, Bunin, Karamzin, and Fet, as well as many other famous people, are connected with Orel.
Orlovskaya region is a richly endowed territory in the center of Russia that has played, and continues to play, an enormous role in the country's cultural and intellectual development. A Slavic tribe known as the Vyatichi began settling on the banks of the upper Oka River and its tributaries as early as the 8th and 9th centuries. Twelfth-century Moscow chronicles mention the cities of Mtsensk, Novosil, and Kromy, now located in Orel Region.
The history of the city of Orel began on September 8, 1556, when construction of the Orlovskaya Fortress began on the southern border of the Muscovite state by decree of Ivan the Terrible. It immediately became the center of the large Orel District. Historians believe the town received its name from the Orel River on which it was built.
Orel was devastated by the Poles in 1611 and then completely razed four years later. The fortress of Orel was rebuilt only in 1636 and populated once again. The city has been ravaged, burned to the ground, and revived repeatedly during its existence. Orel existed as a fortress until 1702, gradually losing its military significance. However, owing to fertile land and the labor of peasants who grew wheat and rye on it, the city gained a reputation as a grain-producing city. It soon became a center of the grain trade, which supplied Moscow with grain and flour. In the latter half of the 19th century, railways and roads connected Orel with Moscow, Ukraine, the Baltic States, and the Volga region and it became a major transportation center. The city's industrialization began during the Soviet period with the construction of engineering plants.
The Soviet Union's victory in the Second World War (called the Great Patriotic War in Russia) was a national feat unparalleled in history. There had never been a war in recorded history in which the masses had been so well organized and so united as in the Second World War. Our people are true makers of history.
The start of the war marked the beginning of years of severe trial for the region. Defensive battles were still continuing on the northern and southern fronts of the Kursk salient, but the Soviet command was already preparing an offensive code-named "Kutuzov". Forces on the Western, Bryansk, and Central fronts were to strike from the north, east, and south of Orel.
The offensive began on June 12, 1943. On August 5, after breaking through the German defenses and forcing them to retreat, the Soviet Army drove them out of Orel. In memory of this event, a T-70 tank was placed on a common grave in May 1 (Pervomaiskaya) Square [now Tankmen's Square (Skver tankistov)] in Orel on August 7, 1943. The tank's gun faces west to where battles with the enemy were still going on. The square was redeveloped in 1963 and an Eternal Flame was lit. In 1968, the T-70 tank was replaced with a T-34 tank, which was connected with the brilliant victories of Soviet armored troops in the Second World War.
A granite monolith with the names of the dead soldiers stands on the common grave in the center of the square, along with two stone slabs with a map of the battle on the Orel-Kursk Arch [the battle front in the region] and the text of the order of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief for the first victory salute in Moscow in honor of the liberation of the cities of Orel and Belgorod from the German occupiers. The monument was designed and planned by architects A. Radionov, K. Silobram, S. Fedorov, O. Levitsky, and O. Vernoslov. Reconstruction of industrial facilities and public utilities was completed ahead of schedule after the end of the war, and Orel's industrial potential increased many times within a short period. New industries appeared in the city, including a steel-rolling plant, a watch factory, and companies in the instrument-making and electronics industries. Diversified industry (engineering, electronics, and metallurgy) also developed in other cities of the region. Orel observed its 400th anniversary in 1966, and in honor of this event a 20-m-high monument was built with a letter for the generation of 2066 enclosed in its base.
The city of Orel places a great deal of emphasis on arts and crafts. In recent years, the cultural center in Orel has discovered 500 masters of these art forms and has held exhibitions of their work.
There is a remarkable woman living in Orel who has devoted her life to delighting children with the magical world of puppets. Her name is Lyubov Zhmakina. She makes and paints puppets and also stages her own shows. She presented her first show in Orel in 1972. The performance was dedicated to children and used puppets to show the elements of how to behave in public. The children loved the scenes from life, which simultaneously made them laugh and instructed them. Children's laughter and the looks of rapture on the young spectators' faces are Lyubov Zhmakina's reward for her work.
Regional Exhibition Hall
Until recently, the Artists' Union had a monopoly on exhibitions. However, today, Orel has the Regional Exhibition Hall, which unites the region's artists. In 1996, a competition for young artists was organized in the exhibition hall. Children whose talent was still not fully revealed learned about the world of art. At the exhibition, they could get advice from professional artists and enrich their knowledge of art. Regional artists, such as L.N. Parinka, O.S. Tuchnina, S.V. Prokopov, Zh.A. Travinskaya, and V.I. Lebedev have held personal exhibitions in the hall. These exhibitions have been a great success with city residents.
Orel's own Raduga (Rainbow) dance ensemble had the privilege of participating in the carnival procession in Moscow during the city's 850th anniversary celebrations in September 1997. Students of the institute of arts and culture formed the ensemble in 1978. The ensemble consists of a dance group and a musical ensemble. Raduga's repertoire includes Russian folk dances from various regions of the country.
Rare crafts such as woodcarving, basket weaving, macrame, and wonderful lacework and embroidery have been preserved in various villages in the region. The hands of the lacemakers produce patterns in fine, nearly weightless threads that rival the frost patterns on windows in delicacy.
Craftsmen who model clay toys and ceramics also make their contribution to Orel's cultural heritage. Orel potters have their own style of painting distinct from the work of craftsmen in other regions.
The art of Orel masters has been presented twice at fairs in Germany and France, as well as in Russia (Kaliningrad, Moscow, and Sochi). The cultural legacy and knowledge of Orel masters is being carefully passed on to their children and grandchildren, who are continuing the work of their forebears.
In 65 kms from Orel there is a State memorial and natural museum - reserve "Spasskoe-Lutovinovo" - a patrimonial manor of I.S.Turgenev. The perfectly preserved regular park, the main house with subsidary buildings, gives uou a perfect sample of a noble estate of the XIX-th century. The days which have been spent by the writer in Spasskoe-Lutovinovo, especially when he came here from abroad, were unusually fruitful. Five of his six most known novels were written there: "Rudin", "The gentry's nest", "On the eve", "Fathers and sons", "Faust".
Annually at the end of May - the beginning of June on the territory of the estate the Turgenev's festival is carried out. It's program is extensive and various: near the Turgenev's house the actors perform some stages from his plays, on the fields of the park the folklore groups dance and sing, in Spasskaya church, where the Turgenev's parents married, concerts of choral and orchestral music are taking place, the pictures of the local artists are exhibited.
In Orel one can see the architectural ensemble dedicated to one of the most remarkable and original writers of Russia N.S.Leskov. It is represented among of the characters of his most known novels. The exposition of Leskov's museum represents the exhibts about a difficult creative way of the writer, figures, personal things, library, interior of his Petersburg study.
In the museum of the local writers the memorial interiors of the working studies of L.N.Andreev, I.A.Bunin (the first Nobel winner among the Russian writers), I.A.Novikov, D.I.Pisarev, M.M.Prishvin and A.A.Fet are presented.
The collection of the Orel museum of fine arts is decorated with pictures of the great Russian artists, such as the landscapes made by I.K.Ayvazosky and I.I.Levitan, the porterts made by F.S.Rokotov, V.L.Borovikovsky and V.A.Tropinin, sketches and etudes made by A.A.Ivanov, V.I.Surikov, I.E.Repin, V.E.Makovsky, V.G.Perov, K.A.Korovin and G.G.Myasoedov. The European arts is represented by the pictures of the artists from Italy, France, Holland, England. In the gallery there are a lot of works of the modern Oryol artists.
The regional museum of the local lore represents nature, history the outstanding people of Orel region. It is placed in one of the most remarkable buildings of the city - the so called Trade lines (XVIII cent.).
The department of the Great Patriotic war with the diorama showing the battles on Orel-Kursk salient and the museum of Normandy-Neman dedicated to the fights of the French air regiment tells you about the liberation of Orel region from the german fascists.
The original and picturesque landscapes of Orel, its individuality with a combination of nature and architecture is unique. You can't but pay attention to the graceful belfry of Akhtyrskaya Virgin (1786) and St. Nikolas-on-the Sands (1790) churches, the decoration of the city is the church of Michael the Angel (1801).