SARATOV, a town of Russia, capital of the government of the same name, on the right bank of the Volga, 532 m. by rail S.E. of Moscow. It is one of the most important cities of eastern Russia, and is picturesquely situated on the side of hills which come close down to the Volga. One of these, the Sokolova (560 ft.), is liable to frequent landslips, and is a continual source of danger. The city is divided into three parts by two ravines; the outer two may be considered as suburbs. A large village, Pokrovsk (pop. 20,000), situated on the opposite bank of the Volga, though in the government of Samara, is in reality a suburb of Saratov. Apart from this suburb, Saratov had in 1882 a population of 112,430 (49,660 in 1830, and 69,660 in 1859), and 143,431 in 1900. It is the see of an Orthodox Greek bishop and of a Roman Catholic bishop, and is better built than many towns of central Russia. Its old cathedral (1697) is a very plain structure, but the new one, completed in 1825, is fine, and has a striking campanile. The theatre and the railway station are also fine buildings. The streets are wide and regular, and there are several broad squares. A new fine-art gallery was erected in 1884 by the painter Bogolubov, who bequeathed to the city his collection of modern pictures and objects of art. A school of drawing and the public library are in the same building, the Radishchev Museum.
Agriculture and gardening support a section of the population. The cultivation of the sunflower deserves special mention. Of the manufacturing establishments the distilleries rank first in importance ; next come the liqueur factories, flour-mills, oil-works, railway workshops and tobacco-factories. The city has a trade not only in corn, oil, hides, tallow, woollen cloth, wool, fruits and various raw produce exported from Samara, but also in salt from the Crimea and Astrakhan, in iron from the Urals and in wooden wares from the upper Volga governments. Saratov also supplies south-eastern Russia with manufactured articles and grocery wares imported from central Russia. The shallowness of the Volga opposite the town and the immense shoals along its right bank are, however, a great drawback to its usefulness as a river-port.
The town of Saratov was founded at the end of the 16th century, on the left bank of the Volga, some 7 m. above the present site, to which it was removed about 1605. The place it now occupies (Sary-tau or Yellow Mountain) has been inhabited from remote antiquity. Although founded for the maintenance of order in the Volga region, Saratov was several times pillaged in the 17th and 18th centuries. The peasant leader Stenka Razin took it, and his followers kept it until 1671 ; the insurgent Cossacks of the Don pillaged it in 1708 and the rebel Pugachev in 1774.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)