Taganrog is a bayside city of approx. 300,000 inhabitants in southwestern Russia, about halfway between the regional center of Rostov-on-Don and the Ukrainian border. It is most famous as a birthplace of Anton Chekhov, a 19th-century Russian writer, whose family's house and grocery shop now serve as museums.

  • History
Taganrog was founded in 1698 by Peter I - five years earlier than its northern cousin, St. Petersburg (something Taganrogians take modest pride in). Due to its location, it was a commercial and cultural haven of the South, with Italian, Greek merchants setting shops along its tree-lined streets - hence the names of its central avenues nowadays: Greek Street, Italian Lane. Soviet years brought a bit of industrial flavor to Taganrog as well, establishing several heavy-machinery factories and other enterprises.
  • Main reasons to visit
Best time to visit Taganrog is late Spring and Summer (although recent heatwaves, with temperatures reaching 100F may serve as a deterrent to some). Many Russians from central and northern regions come to Taganrog for cheap, locally grown produce - tomatoes, pears, watermelons, cherries, squash, etc - and locally caught fish (freshwater varieties are most common), which are of excellent quality. Taganrog Gulf of Azov Sea (which is a very shallow freshwater sea, where water temperature becomes almost as high as air temperatures in the months of July and August) is another attraction - although locals themselves rarely go for a swim within the town limits and prefer to take dips in several "secret" locations a short drive away from the city. Taganrog's relatively long history is reflected in several monuments and museums scattered throughout the downtown area. A small theater company still occupies a historic building, which housed Italian opera in the 19th century, in the center of the city (no summer performances are given, though). A couple of days are probably enough to see all the sights on foot.
  • Food
Eating out is still relatively cheap in Taganrog - four people can dine at an expensive restaurant for around $120, including drinks and desserts. In the summer, numerous boardwalk cafes and restaurants have doors open until late at night, when they also double as dance clubs. Food is traditional southern Russian cuisine, with fire-grilled beef and sturgeon being, perhaps, the most delicious (albeit most expensive) fare. There are also several new Asian-themed restaurants of dubious authenticity, as well as fairly good Czech/German and Italian restaurants. Humongous city market also serves as a kind of a large farmer's market, where one can buy samples of local produce, honey, salted fish, Korean-style marinated vegetables (which curiously took firm hold in the South), fresh-caught crawfish, etc. Taganrog Brewery used to make decent beer, however, it was rumored to go out of business as of late, and now generic import brands prevail.
  • Transportation
Rostov-on-Don, a city of approximately 1 million, is about 50 mi east of Taganrog. Taxi ride from its airport or railway station to downtown Taganrog costs about $40 (summer 2006). Both Lufthansa and Austrian regularly fly to Rostov from their respective hubs in Frankfurt and Vienna; there are also flights to/from Moscow and Istanbul serviced by Russian airlines. Train ride from Moscow to Rostov takes about 12-15 hours aboard brand-name express-trains "Tikhiy Don" or "Ataman Platov." Downtown Taganrog is very walkable; however, cheap taxis are also available (about $1 per 10 minute ride, which is enough to get across the downtown/market area). Public transportation consists of tram-rail (5 roubles fixed), shuttle-taxi (8 roubles fixed) and trolley-bus.
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