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The Kuybyshev Reservoir or Kuybyshevskoye Reservoir is a 1,593,823-acre lake in the middle of the Volga and lower Kama rivers in west central (Middle Volga Region) Russia. The reservoir was created by the Zhiguli Hydroelectric Station dam located between the cities of Zhigulevsk and Togliatti in Samara Oblast. The filling of the reservoir in 1957 resulted in a number of villages and towns rebuilding on higher ground. Although always a popular river for fishing and boating, the damming of the Volga River only added to the number or recreational activities for residents and visitors to the region.
The Kuybyshev Reservoir is 310 miles long with a maximum width of 21 miles. 1,618 miles of shoreline offers boaters and anglers plenty of opportunity to enjoy the lake. Fishing is popular for both commercial and recreational reasons. Sport fish in the reservoir include sturgeon, Northern cisco, and several species of carp. Boating and other water sports are an enjoyable pastime with many small islands to visit and explore in the reservoir's northern end. Tour boats are a common site and give visitors a unique view of the hills and forests that line the banks of the lake. For those interested in ancient history, you can rent a boat in the city of Kazan and sail to the island of Sviyazhsk where a historic town with early Russian architecture is located. Major cities on the reservoir include Kazan, Ulyanovsk, and Tolyatti along with several ports shipyards
The city of Kazan, located at the confluence of the Kazanka River and the Kuybyshev Reservoir, is one of Russia's largest cities and the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan. Kazan is a major commercial, cultural and industrial hub, as well as being at the heart of Tatar culture. During a turbulent time in the city's history, various parts of the city were destroyed, however many ancient buildings have been preserved. The city has a beautiful citadel which was given the status of being a World Heritage Site in 2000. The leaning Soyembika Tower is regarded as being one of the city's most prominent landmarks. Other landmarks and places of interest in Kazan include the five-domed Annunciation Cathedral, the remains of the Savior Monastery, and St. Peter and St. Paul's Cathedral dating back to the 18th century.
Ulyanovsk, located on the western shore of Kuybyshev Reservoir, is famous for being the birthplace of Vladimir Lenin, but was originally established as a fortress town in 1648. Today, the city has become a popular tourist destination due to it's location on the reservoir, forests, mountains and breathtaking landscapes. A mostly industrial city, it is home to the Avistar-SP airplane plant and the UAZ automobile manufacturing plant. A railway bridge that was constructed in 1916, connects the two sides of the city across the Kuybyshev Reservoir. A second bridge has been under construction for years to relieve this bridge of traffic, as it is the only bridge over the river that exists at this time. After sundown, visitors to the city can either relax at a local nightclub or grab a bite to eat in one of the many restaurants.
The city of Tolyatti, located just north of the Zhiguli Hydroelectric Station dam on the Kuybyshev Reservoir, was founded in 1737 as a fortress called Stavropol by the Russian politician Vasily Tatishchev. Informally it was often referred as Stavropol-na-Volge to distinguish it from Stavropol, a large city in South-West Russia. During the construction of the Zhiguli Hydroelectric Station, the old town fell into the flooding zone of the reservoir and was completely rebuilt at a higher location. In 1964, the city was renamed Tolyatti after Palmiro Togliatti, the longest-serving secretary of the Italian Communist Party. Today the city is best known for the Volga Automobile Factory.
Although the are some pristine beaches and beautiful wooded areas along the shores of the Kuybyshev Reservoir, the area is rather steep in places and not the best place for camping or picnics. Outdoor enthusiasts will want to travel east to the town of Samara. Samara's beaches are perhaps the city's biggest attraction. In the summer, they are packed with visitors soaking up the sun and swimming in the water of the Volga River. Samara is one of the largest cities in Russia with over one million people. It is located on the east bank of the Volga River, which serves as its western boundary. Its northern boundary is formed by the Sokolyi Hills and by the Steppes in the south and east. Across the river you will find Samara Bend National Park which features hiking trails, camping areas and picnic facilities. The park is also known for its famous raft trips which will take you on an exciting 10-day camping trip through the park's backwaters. The city of Samara is know for it's active nightlife along with museums, theaters, parks, zoos and interesting historical monuments.
With its balanced mix of tourist attractions, history and breathtaking natural splendor, a visit to the Kuybyshev Reservoir and Middle Volga Region of Russia is sure to be a vacation you'll not soon forget.
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