Samara is a gorgeous city at the intersection of the Volga and Samara Rivers. It began as a pirate nest but in 1586 a fortress was constructed to protect the eastern boundary from the dangerous nomads. Although Samara was closed to foreigners during the Soviet period because of its industrial importance, it now attracts visitors for its beautiful beaches on the majestic Volga.
During World War II, Samara was selected to be the capital of the USSR in the event of Moscow's capture. In October 1941, many factions evacuated Moscow and stayed in Samara until the summer of 1943. Also in 1941, 500 metro builders constructed a secret bunker for Stalin. The underground bunker holds a conference hall, offices, living rooms, and a dining room, still in their pristine 1941 condition. Samara is also home to the museum of the Ulyanov Family where you can visit Lenin's home from 1890-1893.
Samara is now an important industrial city and port. Businessmen from international companies such as Delphi Automotive, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, and Nestle live and work here. This popularity among businessmen earned it the names "Russian New Orleans" and "Russian Chicago." The Samara State Aerospace University, Russia's leading engineering institution, is also located here. This university has played a major role in developing Russia's space program. The launch vehicle of the first man in space -Yury Gagarin - was built in the Samara Progress Plant.
The Ploshchad Slavy and the Monument of Glory were dedicated to Samara's aviation workers during World War II. This memorial square gives the best views of the city. Or you can visit the Iversky Women's Monastery, a monastery that once held 500 nuns. It was recently reopened - almost 100 years after it was built - and has been restored to its original glory.