Rostov-on-Don (Russian: Росто́в-на-Дону́, tr. Rostov-na-Donu; IPA: [rɐˈstof nə dɐˈnu]) is a port city and the administrative center of Rostov Oblast and the Southern Federal District of Russia. It lies on the Don River, 32 kilometers (20 mi) from the Sea of Azov. Population: 1,089,261 (2010 Census); 1,068,267 (2002 Census); 1,019,305 (1989 Census).
Since ancient times, the area around the mouth of the Don has been of cultural and commercial importance. Ancient indigenous inhabitants include the Scythian, Sarmat, and Savromat tribes. It was the site of Tanais, an ancient Greek colony, Fort Tana, under the Genoese and Fort Azak in the time of the Ottoman Empire.
On December 15, 1749, a custom house was established on the Temernik River, a tributary of the Don, by edict of Empress Elizabeth, the daughter of Peter the Great, in order to control trade with Turkey. It was co-located with a fortress named for Dimitry of Rostov, a metropolitan bishop of the old northern town of Rostov the Great. Azov, a town closer to the Sea of Azov on the Don, gradually lost its commercial importance in the region to the new fortress. In 1756, the «Russian commercial and trading company of Constantinople» was founded at the «merchants’ settlement» (Kupecheskaya Sloboda) on the high bank of the Don. In 1796, the settlement became a township. In 1806, the name of this founding site was changed to Rostov and later to Rostov-on-Don, thus, the modern day town was established.
In the early 20th century, epidemics of cholera during the summer months were not uncommon.
In 1779, Rostov-on-Don became associated with a settlement of Armenian refugees from the Crimea. The two settlements were separated by a field of wheat. In 1928, the two towns were merged. The former town border lies beneath the Teatralnaya Square of central Rostov-on-Don.
During the Russian Civil War, the Whites and the Reds contested Rostov-on-Don, then the most heavily industrialized city of South Russia. By 1928, the regional government had moved from the old Cossack capital of Novocherkassk to Rostov-on-Don.
World War II
During World War II, German forces occupied Rostov-on-Don (for seven days from November 21, 1941 after attacks by the German first panzer army in the battle of Rostov and for seven months from July 24, 1942 to February 14, 1943). The town was of strategic importance as a railway junction and a river port accessing the Caucasus, a region rich in oil and minerals. It took ten years to restore the city from the ruins.
In the Soviet years, the Bolsheviks demolished two of Rostov-on-Don’s principal landmarks, St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral (1908) and St. George Cathedral (1783–1807).