From ancient times, the area around the mouth of the Don River has held cultural and commercial importance. Ancient indigenous inhabitants included the Scythian, Sarmat, and Savromat tribes. It was the site of Tanais, an ancient Greek colony, Fort Tana, under the Genoese and Fort Azak in the time of the Ottoman Empire.
In 1749, a custom house was established on the Temernik River, a tributary of the Don, by edict of Empress Elizabeth, the daughter of Peter the Great, in order to control trade with Turkey. It was co-located with a fortress named for Dimitry of Rostov, a metropolitan bishop of the old northern town of Rostov the Great. Azov, a town closer to the Sea of Azov on the Don, gradually lost its commercial importance in the region to the new fortress.
In 1756, the "Russian commercial and trading company of Constantinople" was founded at the "merchants' settlement" (Kupecheskaya Sloboda) on the high bank of the Don. Towards the end of the eighteenth century, with the incorporation of previously Ottoman Black Sea territories into the Russian Empire, the settlement lost much of its militarily strategic importance as a frontier post.
In 1796, the settlement was chartered and in 1797, it became the seat of Rostovsky Uyezd within Novorossiysk Governorate. In 1806, it was officially renamed Rostov-on-Don. During the 19th century, due to its river connections with Russia's interior, Rostov developed into a major trade center and communications hub. A railway connection with Kharkiv was completed in 1870, with further links following in 1871 to Voronezh and in 1875 to Vladikavkaz.
Concurrent with improvements in communications, heavy industry developed. Coal from the Donets Basin and iron ore from Krivoy Rog supported the establishment of an iron foundry in 1846. In 1859, the production of pumps and steam boilers began. Industrial growth was accompanied by a rapid increase in population, with 119,500 residents registered in Rostov by the end of the nineteenth century along with approximately 140 industrial businesses. The harbor was one of the largest trade hubs in southern Russia, especially for the export of wheat, timber, and iron ore.
In 1779, Rostov-on-Don became associated with a settlement of Armenian refugees from the Crimea at Nakhichevan-on-Don. The two settlements were separated by a field of wheat. In 1928, the two towns were merged. The former town border lies beneath the Teatralnaya Square of central Rostov-on-Don. By 1928, following the incorporation of the hitherto neighboring city of Nakhichevan-on-Don, Rostov had become the third largest city in Russia.
In the early 20th century, epidemics of cholera during the summer months were not uncommon.
During the Russian Civil War, the Whites and the Reds contested Rostov-on-Don, then the most heavily industrialized city of South Russia. By 1928, the regional government had moved from the old Cossack capital of Novocherkassk to Rostov-on-Don.
In the Soviet years, the Bolsheviks demolished two of Rostov-on-Don's principal landmarks: St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral (1908) and St. George Cathedral (1783–1807).
During World War II, German forces occupied Rostov-on-Don, at first for seven days from November 21, 1941 after attacks by the German First Panzer Army in the Battle of Rostov and then for seven months from July 24, 1942 to February 14, 1943. The town was of strategic importance as a railway junction and a river port accessing the Caucasus, a region rich in oil and minerals. It took ten years to restore the city from the damage during World War II.
27,000 Jews and Soviet civilians were massacred by the German military on August 11 and 12, 1942 in Rostov-on-Don on a site called Zmievskaya Balka.
The city has suffered an upsurge in crime during the early 21st century, and was even listed as the most dangerous city in Europe by WorldAtlas, with rankings based on composite crime indices. The development was attributed largely to the proximity of the city to the nearby conflict in the Donbass. However, after analyzing the data, WorldAtlas removed the city from the list and Tallinn, Estonia took its place as allegedly the most dangerous city in Europe.
Within the framework of administrative divisions, it is incorporated as Rostov-na-Donu Urban Okrug—an administrative unit with the status equal to that of the districts. As a municipal division, this administrative unit also has urban okrug status.
Rostov-on-Don is divided into eight city districts:
The 2010 census recorded the population of Rostov-on-Don at 1,089,261 making it the tenth most populous city in Russia.
Albert Parry, born in 1901 in Rostov-on-Don, wrote of the summers of his childhood:
There were sultry days of brassy sun, but also cool evenings on the balconies facing the Don River, with the soft glow of charcoal in the samovar, with the ripe cherries crushed by your spoon against the bottom and sides of your glass of scalding tea.
Rostov-on-Don lies in a humid continental climate (Dfa). The winter is moderately cold, with an average February temperature of −3.1 °C (26.4 °F). The lowest recorded temperature of −31.9 °C (−25.4 °F) occurred in January 1940. The summers are warm and sunny. July temperatures average +23.3 °C (73.9 °F). The city's highest recorded temperature of +40.1 °C (104.2 °F) was reported on 1 August 2010. The mean annual precipitation is 643 millimeters (25.3 in), the average wind speed is 2.7 m/s, and the average air humidity is 72%.
In December 1996, Rostov-on-Don adopted a coat of arms, a flag and a mayoral decoration as the symbols of the town. The first coat of arms of Rostov-on-Don was designed in 1811 and approved by the Tsar. In 1904, some changes were made. One lasting oil painting of the coat-of-arms is kept in the regional local history museum but its accuracy and authenticity is uncertain. In June 1996, the Rostov-on-Don City Duma adopted a variant of the coat-of-arms in which a tower represents the St. Dimitry Rostovsky Fortress. The ancient Russian arms reference the role Rostov played in the defense of Russia's borders. The coat-of-arms adorns the mayor's decoration but all other cases of its use are first considered for approval by the City Duma.
The flag of Rostov-on-Don was approved by the Duma on September 20, 1864. At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries the home guard regiments, which defended the Southern borders of Russia, were raised under this flag. The "Flag of Rostov" is kept in the town's municipal building under glass. Its length is 1,370 millimeters (54 in) and width, 850 millimeters (33 in). The flag is taken out of the building only on Victory Day and Rostov-on-Don Day by a guard of honor.
In 1870, an oval shape mayoral decoration wrought from precious or semi-precious white metal was introduced. On the front is written "Rostov-on-Don" at the top, the Rostov-on-Don coat-of-arms is in the center and the inscription, "Mayor of the City" is written at the bottom. On its reverse side, the day of its adoption, April 9, 1996, is recorded. The decoration is worn over the suit on a large chain. The mayor returns the decoration to the Duma on his or her retirement from office.
The Emblem of the Don Host Oblast was introduced in July 5 (18), 1878. The flag of the All Great Don Army was introduce in May 1918 on the "Circle of the Don Saving".December 1970: Order of Lenin
1982: Order of the Great Patriotic War (1st Degree)
2008: City of Military Glory status
Rostov's favorable geographical position at trading crossroads promotes economic development. The Don River is a major shipping lane connecting southwestern Russia with the north. Rostov-on-Don is a trading port for Russian, Italian, Greek and Turkish merchants selling, for example, wool, wheat and oil. It is also an important river port for passengers. The Rostov-on-Don agricultural region produces one-third of Russia's vegetable oil from sunflowers.
With the construction of the Volga-Don Shipping Canal in 1952, Rostov-on-Don became a port of five seas: the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov, the Caspian Sea, the White Sea, and the Baltic Sea.
In modern times, Rostov-on-Don has experienced economic growth. Numerous start-up companies have established headquarters in the city, the median income is increasing, and the city is being transformed into a modern, industrial and technology-rich hub. For instance, Rostov-on-Don is a center for helicopter and farm machinery manufacturing. The "Tebodin" engineering company opened its fourth office in Rostov-on-Don in June 2010.
Rostov-on-Don is a major transport center. Some refer to it as the "gateway to the Caucasus".
Public transport in Rostov-on-Don includes buses, trolleybuses, trams, and marshrutkas (routed cabs). The Rostov Metro is under development.
The Rostov-on-Don Airport caters for domestic travel, as well as flights to and from the former C.I.S., Europe, Africa and Asia. Its IATA code is "ROV". Donavia airlines (formerly "Aeroflot Don") has its head office in Rostov-on-Don. The Bataysk military aerodrome (which is located 5.0 miles (8.0 km) northwest of the city center) may be developed into a new airport hub for Southern Russia. Platov International Airport is under construction and is scheduled to start operation in the Summer of 2017.
The international river port specializes in the packaging and freighting of minerals and timber. Shipping information is published on line.
The main railway stations in Rostov-on-Don are "Rostov-Glavny" and "Rostov-Prigorodny". The "St. Petersburg-Rostov-Caucasus" railway crosses the territory of Rostov-on-Don. The North Caucasus Railway offices are in Rostov-on-Don.
Several highways of federal and regional significance cross Rostov. The M-4 “Don” route passes Rostov to the east and crosses the Don river in the Aksay city area. The “Rostov-Novoshakhtinsk” starts from the Northern housing block area of the city running north to connect with the M-4 “Don” route between Shakhty and Novoshakhtinsk.
The Ministry of Regional Development of Russia has prepared a program to create eight multimillion conglomerate population centres or 'super cities'. The Rostov Oblast will be one of these. “The Greater Rostov” metropolitan area will include the cities of Rostov-on-Don, Novocherkassk, Taganrog, Aksay, Bataysk and Azov.
In 1929, the first automatic telephone exchange in Russia with a capacity of 6,000 numbers commenced in Rostov-on-Don. Since 2004, standard telephone numbers in Rostov-on-Don have been seven digits in length. Since 2009, city numbers have begun with "2" The city dialing code is "863".
Rostov-on-Don hosts higher educational establishments, including universities, academies, secondary schools of vocational training including colleges, technical schools, specialized schools, and elementary schools of vocational training including lyceums, professional colleges and schools of general education.
The largest educational establishments of the city include:
There is also a French cultural centre (Alliance Francaise), a British Council and German Goethe Institute (DAAD and Bosch foundation), and a Korean Cultural Centre.
The most conspicuous architectural feature of the central part of the city is the Cathedral of Virgin's Nativity (1860–1887), designed by Konstantin Thon.
Rostov-on-Don's libraries include:The Don State Public Library,
Central Library named after Maxim Gorky,
Regional Children’s Library named after V.M. Velichkina
Rostov Regional Special Library for the Blind,
Scientific Library of the Medical University,
Central State Children’s Library named after Lenin
Children’s Library named after A.S. Pushkin
Children’s Library named after Mayakovsky
South-Russian Don State Public Library.
In the Academic Drama Theater named after Maxim Gorky works Mikhail Bushnov, who is the national artist of the USSR and an honorary citizen of Rostov-on-Don.Maxim Gorky Academic Drama Theater
Rostov State Puppet Theater
Rostov Regional Academic Theater of the Youth
Rostov Musical Theater
Kim Nazaretov jazz center
The small collections of the Art Gallery and the Museum of Arts include some works by Repin, Surikov, Perov, Levitan, Aivazovsky as well as of modern Rostov artists.Museum of Local Lore
Rostov Regional Museum of Fine Arts
Museum of Fine Arts on Dmitrovskaya
Museum of Russian & Armenian Friendship
Pioneer and Railway Museum and Children's Railway
Other facilities include seven stadiums, a Palace of Sports, a circus, a zoo botanical gardens and parks. Rostov-on-Don hosts the North Caucasian Science Center and research institutes. The city is also home to a Starbucks coffee chain, a true rarity in this geographical area of Russia.
The Administration of Rostov and Novocherkassk Eparchy of the Russian Orthodox Church is located in Rostov. Other religious facilities in Rostov-on-Don are the Roman Catholic "Church of the Lord's Supper", the Old Believers' temple, a synagogue, a mosque, and the Diamond Way Buddhist Center of the Karma Kagyu Tradition. There are also several Armenian and Greek Orthodox churches in the city, with one of the Armenian churches being the oldest standing building in Rostov. All of the Armenian churches are in the Nakhichevan-on-Don district of the city.Church of the Intercession
Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church (belongs to Moscow Patriarchate)
St. Alexandra's Church
Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Old Believers Pokrovsky Cathedral
The construction of the Rostov TV center began in 1956 and was completed on 26 April 1958. The first television program was broadcast on 30 April 1958. Color television was first broadcast in 1974. Radio transmission began in Rostov-on-Don on October 17, 1975. In 2009, there were fourteen FM radio stations in Rostov-on-Don.
Rostov-on-Don is one of the host cities for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. A huge development is planned on the left bank of the Don River, which includes a soccer stadium to host the games during the championship.
Notable people include Olga Spessivtseva ballet dancer, Alexander Suvorov military commander, Yelena Produnova artistic gymnast, Yulia Belokobylskaya artistic gymnast, Andrei Chikatilo (1936–1994) serial killer, and Alexander Pechersky (1909–1990) a leader of the rebellion at the Sobibor extermination camp, and Maria Kharenkova artistic gymnast.
Authors of Rostov-on-Don include Anton Chekhov, Mikhail Sholokhov, Zakrutkin, Fadeyev, Safronov, Kalinin, Alexander Pushkin, Maxim Gorky, Sergey Yesenin, Shushanik Kurghinian, Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Yuri Zhdanov and Mikael Nalbandian. After visiting Rostov in 1831, Pushkin published his poem "The Don". The monument to Pushkin on Pushkin Boulevard is dedicated to these events. Maxim Gorky, worked as a docker in Rostov-on-Don in his youth. Vera Panova (1905–1973) was a Soviet era writer. Modern era includes such names as Danil Korezky and Tony Vilgotsky. A monument to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who lived in the city for 18 years and studied mathematics at Rostov University, is being planned by city authorities.
Musicians from Rostov-on-Don include Efrem Zimbalist the violinist, Zaslavsky, Kim Nazaretov, Modest Mussorgsky, the pop music singer Irina Allegrova (1952), Yuri Bashmet, Sergey Vladimirovich Rodionov, Eva Rivas (1987), Mikhail Puntov (1995), the post-punk rock band Motorama and the rap band Kasta.
Actors and playwrights of Rostov-on-Don include Maretskaya, Mikhail Shchepkin, Yevgeniya Glushenko, Alexander Kaidanovsky (1946–1995), Evgeny Shvarts (1896–1958), Nikolai Sorokin (1952–2013), Konstantin Lavronenko (1961), winner of the Best Actor award at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, and Sergey Zhigunov (1963). Marion Gering, noted for his stage and film productions in the United States, was born in the city.
Architects and artists of the city include Yevgeny Vuchetich, Seyran Khatlamajyan, Ashot Melkonian, Natalia Duritskaya, Martiros Saryan (1880–1972), Roman Chatov (1900–1987), Leonid Eberg (1882-1954), Lev Eberg (1907-1982).
Scientists and explorers include, doctors N. Bogoraz and S. Fedosov, scientists Dmitri Mendeleev, A. S. Popov, L. P. Pavlov, George Sedov the Arctic Sea explorer, Yakov Frenkel (1894–1952) a solid-state physicist, Svyatoslav Fyodorov (1927–2000), ophthalmologist, Sabina Spielrein (1885–1942), psychoanalyst, Yuri Oganessian (a nuclear physicist who is the namesake of oganesson (element 118)).Vladimir Shumeyko (1945), political figure
Svetlana Boiko (1972), foil fencer
Anatoli Morozov (1973), professional association football player and coach
Alexei Eremenko (1983), Russian-born Finnish professional association football player who currently plays in Kazakhstan
Victoria Lopyreva (1983), model and popular television hostess
Tatiana Kotova (1985), beauty pageant titleholder
Andrei Chikatilo (1936), serial killer
Ivan Bukavshin (1995-2016), chess grandmaster
Iosif Vorovich (1920-2001), mathematicians, academician - full member of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Rostov-on-Don is twinned with:
Rostov on Don Picture Gallery