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Azov ( , ) is a town in Rostov Oblast, Russiamarker, situated on the Don River just sixteen kilometers from the Sea of Azovmarker, which derives its name from the town. Population:

Early settlements in the vicinity

The mouth of the Don River has always been an important commercial centre. At the start of the 3rd century BCE the Greeks from the Kingdom of Bosporus founded a colony here, which they called Tanais (after the Greek name of the river). Several centuries later the settlement was burnt down by king Poleumon of Bosporus. The introduction of Greek colonists restored its prosperity, but the Goths practically annihilated it in the 3rd century. The site of ancient Tanais, now occupied by Nedvigovka village, has been excavated since the mid-19th century.

In the 10th century, the area passed under control of the Slavic princedom of Tmutarakan. The Kypchaks, seizing the area in 1067, renamed it Azaq (i.e., lowlands), from which appellation the modern name is derived. The Golden Horde claimed most of the coast in the 13th and 14th centuries, but the Venetianmarker and Genoesemarker merchants were granted permission to settle on the site of modern-day Azov and founded there a colony which they called Tana.

Fortress of Azov

Ramparts of Azov Fortress
A 17th-century Dutch engraving representing the Battle of Azov (1696)

In 1471 the Ottoman Empire gained control of the area and built the strong fortress of Azak (Azov).

The fort blocked the Don Cossacks from raiding and trading into the Black Sea. The Cossacks had attacked Azov in 1574, 1593, 1620 and 1626. In April 1637 3,000 Don and 4,000 Zaporozhian Cossacks besieged Azov (the Turks had 4000 soldiers and 200 cannon). The fort fell on 21 June and the Cossacks sent a request to the Czar for re-enforcements and support. A commission recommended against this because of the danger of war with Turkey and poor state of the fortifications. In June 1641 Hussein Deli, Pasha of Silistria invested the fort with 70-80,000 men. In September they had to withdraw because of disease and provisioning shortfalls. A second Russian commission reported that the siege had left very little of the walls. In march 1642 Sultan Ibrahim issued an ultimatum and Czar Mikhail ordered the Cossacks to evacuate. The Turks reoccupied Azov in September 1642.

The town, however, had yet to pass through many vicissitudes. During the Azov campaigns of (1696), Peter the Great, who desired naval access to the Mediterranean Seamarker, managed to recover the fortress but the disastrous Pruth Campaign constrained him to hand it back to the Turks in 1711. A humorous description of the events is featured in Voltaire's Candide. During the Great Russo-Turkish War it was taken by the army under Count Rumyantsev and finally ceded to Russia under the terms of Treaty of Kuchuk-Kainarji (1774). For seven years Azov was a capital of a separate government but, with the growth of neighboring Rostov-on-the-Donmarker, gradually declined in importance.

Mayor of Azov

Sergey Bezdolnyy (United Russia) elected on 3 April, 2005. Next election - 11 October, 2009.

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