Kaluga, founded in the mid-14th century as a border fortress on the southwestern borders of the Grand Duchy of Moscow, first appears in the historical record in chronicles in the 14th century as Koluga; the name comes from Old Russian kaluga - "bog, quagmire". In the Middle Ages Kaluga was a minor settlement owned by the Princes Vorotynsky. The ancestral home of these princes lies southwest of the modern city.
On 19 January 1777 the Kaluga drama theatre opened its first theatrical season, established with the direct participation of the Governor-General M. N. Krechetnikov.
Kaluga is connected to Moscow by a railway line and by the ancient roadway, the Kaluga Road (now partly within Moscow (as Starokaluzhskoye Shosse - the Old Kaluga Highway), partly the A101 road). This road offered Napoleon his favored escape route from the Moscow trap in the fall of 1812. But General Kutuzov repelled Napoleon's advances in this direction and forced the retreating French army onto the old Smolensk road, previously devastated by the French during their invasion of Russia.
On several occasions during the Russian Empire Kaluga was the residence of political exiles and prisoners such as the last Crimean khan Şahin Giray (1786), the Kyrgyz sultan Arigazi-Abdul-Aziz (1828), the Georgian princess Thecla (1834–1835), and the Avar leader Imam Shamil (1859–1868).
Kaluga was briefly occupied by the German army in Operation Barbarossa during the climactic Battle of Moscow. It was occupied from October 12, 1941 to December 30, 1941.
In 1944 the Soviet Government used its local military buildings to intern hundreds of Polish POWs—soldiers of the Polish Underground Home Army—whom the advancing Soviet front had arrested by in the Vilno area.
Kaluga is the administrative center of the oblast. Within the framework of administrative divisions, it is, together with seventy-two rural localities, incorporated as the City of Kaluga—an administrative unit with the status equal to that of the districts. As a municipal division, the City of Kaluga, together with one rural locality in Ferzikovsky District (the selo of Novozhdamirovo), is incorporated as Kaluga Urban Okrug.
In Kaluga, Kaluga Turbine Plant is located, is part of the company Power Machines; Kaluga Machine Works manufactures track machines for railways, plant a foreign company MACO Door & Window.
In recent years Kaluga has become one center of the Russian automotive industry, with a number of foreign companies opening assembly plants in the area:
On November 28, 2007, Volkswagen Group opened a new assembly plant in Kaluga, which has been further expanded by 2009. The investment has reached more than 500 million Euro. The plant currently assembles the Volkswagen Passat, Škoda Fabia and Škoda Rapid.
On October 15, 2007, the Volvo Group broke ground on a new truck assembly plant, that was inaugurated on January 19, 2009. The plant has a yearly capacity of 10,000 Volvo and 5,000 Renault trucks.
On December 12, 2007, PSA Peugeot Citroën announced its decision to build a new assembly plant in Kaluga. By March 2010 the plant was operational, building Peugeot 308s for the Russian market and would also produce Citroën and Mitsubishi models.
To ensure the production cars were built factories companies Continental AG, Magna International, Benteler International, Visteon.
The city is served by the Grabtsevo Airport. Since 1899, there is a railway connection between Kaluga and Moscow.
Public transportation is represented by the trolleybuses, buses, and marshrutkas (routed taxis).
Kaluga has a humid temperate continental (Köppen climate classification: Dfb), with warm and humid summers; and long, cold and snowy winters. Winter extreme records can be as low as −45 °C (−49 °F), while summer heat may reach up +40 °C (104 °F), but usually it's about between −5 °C (23 °F) and −20 °C (−4 °F) during winter and between 15 °C (59 °F) and 30 °C (86 °F) during summer in Kaluga.
Kaluga is known for its most famous resident, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, a rocket science pioneer who worked here as a school teacher. The Tsiolkovsky State Museum of the History of Cosmonautics in Kaluga is dedicated to his theoretical achievements and their practical implementations for modern space research, hence the motto on the city's coat of arms: "The Cradle of Space Exploration".
Other notable people include:Alexander Amfiteatrov
Pafnuty Chebyshev, mathematician
Alexander Gretchaninov, Russian-American composer
Jonah of Hankou
Valery Kobelev, ski jumper
Pavel Popovich, cosmonaut, the only person to receive two honorary citizenships of Kaluga (1962 and 1964)
Nikolay Skvortsov, swimmer
Kaluga is twinned with: Suhl, Germany (1969);
Lahti, Finland (1998);
/ Tiraspol, Transnistria/Moldova (2005);
Panorama, Greece (2011);
Minsk, Belarus (2015);
Binzhou, China (2015);
In addition to this, Kaluga has nine cooperating cities and towns: Binningen, Switzerland (1992);
Clearwater, United States (1992);
Xianyang, China (2000);
Tula, Russia (2002);
Oryol, Russia (2003);
Smolensk, Russia (2003);
Leszno, Poland (2004);
Chemnitz, Germany (2007);
Makhachkala, Russia (2012);