Arkhangelsk, also known by the anglicised name of Archangel, is the capital of the Russian North, where life has been connected with the sea for centuries. With a population of 400,000, this port city is the administrative, industrial and cultural centre of the region. Its origins date to the second half of the 16th century when Tsar Ivan the Terrible established the city near the Archangel Michael Monastery, which then gave the new city its name.
In 1693, Peter the Great established the first state-owned shipbuilding yard, and a year later, the merchant ship Saint Paul was launched, laying the basis for the city's shipbuilding industry. The importance of Arkhangelsk as a centre for trade, especially with Western Europe, reached its zenith in the late 1700s.
As the gate to the Arctic, Arkhangelsk became also the starting point for numerous polar expeditions. The dream of many explorers to open up the Northern Sea Route was realized in 1932, when an expedition onboard the icebreaker Sibiryakov completed the voyage in a single navigation.
During World War II, Arkhangelsk along with Murmansk became the key supply port, bringing desperately needed foreign equipment to the Russian army and food supplies to the besieged city of St. Petersburg.
Among the most memorable relics of the past are the old wooden buildings that have been preserved in a part of the city known as Old Arkhangelsk. In addition, there are a number of interesting museums and monuments, reflecting the city's illustrious history. Present-day Arkhangelsk is one of the leading centres of the timber industry in Russia and home to many other industries, such as oil and diamonds