Tambov is located 460 kilometres away from Moscow and it takes at least 6 hours to get to this city from Moscow. However, such a long journey is worth it, although, of course, travellers can get there faster by flights from Moscow and St. Petersburg to the Donskoye Airport.
Of course, there is also a railway communication in this area with the trains coming from Saratov, Astrakhan, Makhachkala, and Novosibirsk.
While “Paris is well worth a mass” (this popular expression - Paris vaut bien une messe - is attributed to Henry of Navarre in connection with his decision to convert to Catholicism in 1593), Tambov is worth a prayer for its steadfastness. The city founded in 1636 is an old one, and according to historians, Tambov has withstood 86 sieges but has never been conquered since that time. Therefore, the very atmosphere of the old Russian principal town of a province, loved by many people, has been preserved in Tambov as it has a fairly extensive historical centre, and these are not some houses, but entire streets and historical districts.
Nevertheless, the city’s atmosphere associated, unfortunately, with the lack of good salaries (the average salary offered in vacancies is 30 thousand roubles) explains that local residents, especially young people, leave their city and go to Moscow. And residents of other large cities who come to Tambov, on the contrary, strive to enjoy this provincial lifestyle and ‘finally breathe freely’, as they say.
The monument to the treasurer’s wife from the Lermontov’s poem is one of the landmarks of Tambov. As Lermontov wrote, her breasts were “white as sugar, so tender, that every vein is visible”. The colour on the monument, frankly speaking, is not as good as described and the veins are not seen, but as for the breasts’ size, the sculptor, probably, ‘succeeded’. And he also ‘succeeded’ with the foot of the treasurer’s wife coquettishly set aside, which, judging by the heel buffed to a shine, is an attraction not only for tourists, but for the locals as well.
By the way, there is no historical evidence that poet Mikhail Lermontov visited Tambov. However, the inhabitants of the city are sure that without visiting the city and getting to know the customs of its peoples, such a poem would hardly have been a success!
The monument to the ‘Tambov wolf’, of course, is also in the city. The first monument was made of wood, it is located almost 60 kilometres away from the city on the highway, and most tourists do not notice it, especially since there is really no equipped parking lot near it. But the second monument, with the wolf’s family, is located in the very centre of Tambov, not far from the monument to Lenin in the centre of the city. There was also a Wolf Museum, but, unfortunately, it burned down.
It takes just 10 minutes to walk from the ‘wolf’s family’ to the Tambov treasurer’s wife. And there is a monument to the provincial dream of a better life filled with real feelings, it is on the street that at first was called Penzenskaya Street, then Gymnasicheskaya one, and only in 1918, it was called Kommunalnaya Street. Unfortunately, like in all the Russian regions, an abundant advertising sometimes almost completely covers the beauty of historical buildings but to Tambov’s credit, the culture still lives in this provincial city and is firmly associated with the name of the great Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninov. By the way, it is interesting that the composer did not really like to visit Tambov but from his childhood, he spent almost all the summer months in the Znamenskoye estate located in the Kozlovsky District.
Interestingly, Tambov is famous not only for Rachmaninov. In 1910 to 1918, the military capellmeister and music composer Vasily I. Agapkin who created the legendary march “Farewell of the Slavianka” lived in 1912 in the merchant Shorshorov’s mansion, a green building, from which, in fact, the classical pedestrian part of Kommunalnaya Street begins.
Do you think, there are nothing else in the city? You are wrong! At the place where another building used to be, there is a house in which music composer Ilya A. Shatrov, the author of the famous waltz “On the Hills of Manchuria” lived. Tambov is a very musical city!
Of course, one cannot do without churhes in Tambov, which are really magnificent as, for example, the complex of buildings of the Kazan Monastery founded in the 17th century by starets (elder monk) Joseph. The Kazan Church, by the way, is the only Orthodox church in the world painted in the ‘Grisaille technique’ (monochrome painting), but this is a topic for a separate story. It is also interesting that most of the bell towers in the city have a three-tiered arrow-shaped architecture, which distinguishes them at the background of other buildings and greatly decorates the city.
The Kazan monastery is located almost on the banks of the Tsna River, along which there is a short, but nice and fairly well-maintained embankment. In general, this place is quite interesting. Firstly, there is Embankment Street along the river. And secondly, there is the embankment itself, and it is a two-level one, the Upper and Lower Embankments.
On the other side of the very narrow Tsna River, there are private houses and ducks swim in the water fed by visitors coming to this recreation area. And attentive tourists are surprised that a beehive with bees is depicted on the city’s coat of arms, there is a sculptural installation of a bee on the Embankment, but the Tambov honey, which Tambov has been famous for since the 17th century, seems to be not available in the shops.
Indeed, in addition to the above attractions, you will not see a single shop in the city selling Tambov honey, not a single secular honey festival is held, only religious Honey Feast of the Saviour is held on August 14th. And, quite possibly, this mystery can be the reason for another visit to this quiet and calm, cozy city, where travellers can truly immerse themselves in the atmosphere of the Russian province and also understand the lifestyle in the principal town of a province.