28 Jun Rostov-on-Don: Things to do and places to visit
Rostov-on-Don is situated on Russia’s famous Don River, which gave the Don Cossacks their name. Originally a Cossack settlement, Rostov-on-Don is now a modern city and set to be one of the Russian host cities for the 2018 World Cup. Corinne Leech , Learning and Development Executive at Eton Institute, takes us for a walk along the river banks…
Rostov-on-Don – February 2014 – Corinne L.
Rostov-on-Don in the Southern Federal District of Russia lies close to the Sea of Azov and on the edge of East European plain. Not an obvious choice for a long weekend but for us Rostov-on-Don seemed hugely attractive; we set off from Dubai on the morning of rare, torrential rain to see our son who was studying at the university for a semester. In our minds, Russia was still very much a mysterious place and it felt like such an adventure!
The flight was smooth and on time; serendipitous that Air Arabia has recently opened the route. The immigration procedures at Rostov-on-Don took a while, but no more so than other countries we have visited. At first appearances, there was an avoidance of eye contact and a distinct impression that any form of engagement wasn’t the way things were done here. But a bit of persistence, a word or two of Russian and the barriers were down, as always when you make the effort to speak the local language!
Clutching the piece of paper on which our son had written the bus number and destination, we managed to navigate ourselves on a marshrutka to the town of Tagarog, home of Anton Checkhov. Marshrutkas, minibuses that wait until they are full and then set off, were a new experience. Although not the height of luxury, they were efficient and very cheap.
Our marshrutka delivered us safely to Tagarog, an upmarket seaside resort with the trademark light green and white buildings from the era of Peter the Great. We ate cake and coffee followed by ice cream. I can highly recommend Russian ice cream! Russians’ love for ice cream is an integral part of Russian culture and it is eaten all year round.
And so back to Rostov. In the era of the USSR it was a closed city, out of bounds to the foreign visitor. It’s a city of just over 1 million people. It has plenty of squares with impressive statues. Karl Marx, Elizabeth of Russia, Sholokhov, all have their lasting tributes as well as memorials to the millions of fallen soldiers.
The Cossacks seem to have leaped off the pages of Soviet writer Mikhail Sholokhov’s novel “And Quiet Flows the Don,” which won him a Nobel prize for literature in 1965. The vast Don River, which divides Rostov-on-Don in two, is largely associated with Sholokhov’s name, and statues of his most well-known characters are scattered throughout the city.
Rostov also has an immigration official who had a wonderful friendly smile as she ran after us to give back a document she had kept in error as we cleared the departure formalities.
We liked Rostov-on-Don! It certainly gave us a taste to explore more of Russia, maybe Moscow or St Petersburg next to see a very different Russia to this smaller, more provincial city.
Piroggi – a large pie filled with a sweet or savoury filling.
Pelmeni – dumplings that consist of meat filling in a thin dough
Beef Stroganoff – pieces of fried mushrooms and beef sautéed in sour cream
Kissel – Dessert made of sweetened juice which is thickened
The climate of Rostov-on-Don can be described as humid and continental with cold winters and long, warm and sunny summers.
Rostov-on-Don is known for its cultural heritage consisting of over 800 objects of significance. Out of these around 470 are architectural monuments, 55 archaeological and 106 monuments are objects of arts and military credit.