Penza: Practical Guide

Welcome to Penza, a city that keeps its historical traditions, but grows rapidly. It has become a hub of science and education, culture and sport. If you come to Penza, you will be stunned by welcoming atmosphere, hospitality and friendliness of local people.

Penza is the administrative centre of the Penza Region. It is located on seven hills on both banks of the Sura River, 625 kilometres southeast of Moscow. Surprisingly, but being the part of the Volga Region, Penza is the only administrative city in its territory, where the Volga River does not flow.


Facts and figures

State the Russian Federation
Territorial entity the Penza Region
Settled in 1663
Area 288.5 km2
Time zone UTC+3
Population 523 553 (2018 estimate)
Ethnic groups Russian, Tatar, Mordvin, Ukrainian, Chuvash, Armenian, Belorussian, Azerbaijani, German, Jews
Religious denominations Eastern Orthodoxy, Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism
Currency Rouble (RUB)
Dialling code +7 8412
Postal codes 440000 – 440071
Electricity 220V AC, standard European two-pin plugs
Transport bus, minibus, trolleybus, taxi
Traffic right-hand



Penza derived its name from the eponymous river, on the bank of which the fortress was built in 1663 under Tsar Aleksey Mikhaylovich. In 1665, the population of the town was about 3,300 people. In 1668, 1680 and 1717, Penza was attacked by nomads, but they did not manage to capture the fortress. In the early 18th century, Penza turned into an inner town of the Russian Empire and lost the strategic importance. In the late 18th century, it became the main town of the Penza Governorate, thus causing cultural and economic prosperity.

Railway Station Race Track Governor’s Street

The 19th century was marked by the construction of railway and various public institutions, e.g. Governor’s House, Library. One of the oldest race tracks in Russia was established at that time. In 1939, the Penza governorate was transformed into the Penza Region. During the Great Patriotic War (1941 – 1945), Penza accepted refugees and evacuated enterprises. In the post-war years, the city grew and flourished through springing up machine-building, engineering, textile and food industries. Nowadays, Penza is the major economic and educational centre in the Volga region.




The city of Penza is virtually located in the centre of European Russia, far from large water areas. The climate is moderate continental. The weather is similar to seasonal changes in the Moscow Region, but drier and more volatile.

Winter in Penza is usually snowy and frosty. It begins in November, when the average daily temperature drops below 0°C. February is considered the coldest month and the average daily temperature is -10°C. Snow covers ground in early December, the snow cover depth can be up to 40 cm.

Melting season starts by the end of March, although the average temperature still stands at around -8°C. April is stormy and warm and the average temperature is about 5°C. May is marked by apparent warming, blossoming and blooming.

In summer, the city is full of green colours. The weather is mild with daytime temperatures 20 – 25°C. Short-term heavy rainfalls are frequent.
September is warm and characterised by an abundance of sunny days. October weather is much colder with numerous rainfalls. The average temperature in this month is 5°C with night frosts.


Cultural landscapes and natural sites


Much is being done to preserve and restore numerous monuments of architecture, history and culture. Penza has quite a number of landmarks worth seeing.

Defence Fortress The First Settler Penza Planetarium

Virtually every city or town has its own landmark, which is depicted on souvenirs and local goods. In Penza, it is the First Settler monument. Today, this area is one of the most beautiful viewing platforms, where residents and guests of Penza love hanging around. The monument was opened in September 1980. It was timed to the 600th anniversary of the victory in the Battle of Kulikovo.

The Defence Fortress is the memorial complex dedicated to the founding of the city. It comprises a wooden belfry with cast-iron cannon. A segment of that defensive wall preserved from the 17th century is located behind the belfry.

Penza Planetarium is the national observatory in V.G. Belinsky Park, which was erected in 1928 to tempt citizens to astronomy. It is a wooden building of an unusual three-sectional shape. The planetarium has a viewing platform for the telescope and a dome, on the inside of which a star map is projected.

Trinity Nunnery Spassky Cathedral Penza Mosque

Trinity Nunnery dates back to the 17th century, when several nuns decided to found their own monastery. The wooden trinity church with a side-chapel of the Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God appeared in 1700 – 1702, while the wooden gate church in the name of Alexander Svirsky – in 1717. The first stone temples were erected in 1746 – 1747. By the middle of the 18th century, the monastery included the abbess’s cell, the hospital cell, eight monastic cells and about forty small cells.

Spassky Cathedral is the reconstructed metropolitan church built in 1800 – 1824. It was not only an architectural gem of the city, but also a kind of art gallery. Eighty scenes depicted on its walls consistently unfolded the entire biblical history of the Old and New Testaments. The cathedral housed the miraculous Kazan Icon of the Mother of God, which, according to the legend, saved the city from nomad raids in 1717.

The history of Penza Mosque begins in the late 19th century. Its building was erected at the intersection of Predtechenskaya and Kazanskaya streets in 1887. In 2010, the city initiated the construction of a new Jameh Mosque. The snow-white building with golden domes and high minarets will be another landmark of Penza.

The Victory Monument Folk Art Museum The Sprout ‘Cuckoo’ Clock

The Victory Monument is dedicated to the military and labour feats of residents and natives of the Penza Region during the Great Patriotic War of 1941 – 1945. It was opened on 9 May 1975 and timed to the 30th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War. At the top of the hill on a granite pedestal the Motherland holds a child with a gilded branch symbolising the triumph of life. At the pedestal foot the bronze warrior-defender stands with a rifle in his hand. In front of the monument there is the Eternal Flame.

The wooden building of the Folk Art Museum is an architectural site. It was constructed in the 19th century style, its main highlight is the so called wooden lace decorations. Thanks to the restoration work, the appearance of the mansion is perfectly preserved up to now. The building and nearby old arboretum park today represent an interesting ensemble, which favourably stands out against modern urban landscape.

The Monument The Sprout is located on the embankment of the Sura River. A 25-meter tall obelisk made of stainless steel in the form of a symbolic sprout was opened on the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution. Next to ‘The Sprout’ there is a memorial stele “Glory to the Heroes!” with bas-reliefs depicting the labour and military feats of the Penza Region residents and natives.

The ‘Cuckoo’ Clock monument opened in the city centre in 1974 quickly became a favourite city attraction and a meeting place. The clock was created in three factories of the Penza Region: the mechanism – at Serdobsk Watch Factory, the crystal columns – at Nikolsk Glass Factory, and the tower – at Penza Diesel Factory. The monument prototype was a swiss cuckoo clock.

Apalikha Park Zolotaryovka Settlement Sura Reservoir

The beautiful Apalikha Park allures visitors with mystery, music of ancient trees and silence of steppe river overgrown with water lilies. The old park in Apalikha, on the territory of which the estate of Shan Gireyev was located, is now part of the State Lermontov Museum-Reserve.

Zolotaryovka Settlement is a unique archaeological monument located on the territory of the Penza Region not far from Zolotaryovka village. In the course of exploration, three cultural layers were revealed on its territory: the first layer belongs to the town archaeological culture and refers to the 2nd – 3rd centuries; the second one belongs to the Mordva and dates back to the 8th – 10th centuries; the third layer refers to the period of medieval settlement and dates back to 11th – 13th centuries.

Being the largest water reservoir in the Penza Region, the Sura Reservoir is known for clean water and picturesque landscape. In summer, it is the favourite vacation destination in the region. Numerous holidays camps are located on the reservoir banks, where citizens and guests of the region, where they can pitch tents, rest and have fun.

More detailed information about Penza cultural landscapes and natural sites is available on the website “Tourism and Recreation in the Penza Region”.


Culture and leisure


Penza attracts its guest with its culture, entertainment and leisure activities.


Museum of One Painting Penza Art Gallery Penza Local History Museum

Penza has many museums, which preserve the glorious past of the region. K.A. Savitsky Art Gallery was founded in 1892. The exhibition features paintings by Russian authors of the 18th – 20th centuries, as well as works of French, Italian and Dutch artists of the 17th – 19th centuries. The museum jewel is the collection of works by artists of the Russian avant-garde generating interest among museum visitors. The gallery occupies two historic buildings: the Governor’s House (erected in 1790s) and the Peasant Land Bank (built in 1912).

G.V. Myasnikov Museum of One Painting is a unique museum. The museum does not house a permanent exhibition. Its specific feature is that only one artist’s work is displayed here. The show is accompanied by a film about artist’s life and work and story of creating the exhibited picture.

Established in 1905, the Local History Museum is the oldest in the Volga Region. Currently, the museum’s collection includes more than 100 thousand exhibits of the main and scientific supplementary reserves, including about 5000 works of art, more than 7000 archeological items, about 8000 numismatic objects.

V.E. Meyerhold House is the theater and museum of performing arts. This house was built in 1881 and here the theatrical producer was born. This is the first memorial of the great reformer of theatrical art in Russia, opened in February 1984. The museum will be interesting for the admirers of Melpomene. Penza visitors can also go to the Museum of I.N. Ulyanov, father of Vladimir Lenin, public figure and educator, who worked in the local Nobility Institute for several years. N.N. Burdenko Museum introduces its visitors to the life and work of a world-renowned scientist and neurosurgeon.

Music and theatre

The performing arts have a strong tradition in Penza. The fast-paced cultural scene offers music, theatre, concerts and festivals throughout the year.

Penza Symphony Hall Penza Concert Hall

Penza Symphony Hall and Penza Concert Hall host the best in folk, rock, pop, jazz music and even stand-up comedy. Their stages are suited for various performances: plays, operas, classical concerts. These facilities are also a venue for official meetings, conferences, and festive events.

Moreover, Penza guests may visit Organ Hall, the music lounge for 200 seats. The Penza 12-meter long and 11-meter high organ was made by the German company Hugo Mayer, taking into account the hall and acoustics parameters. Francis Vidil, Gianluca Libertucci, Aleksey Shmitov, Peter van de Velde are among the most notable performers at Penza Symphony Hall.

The website (in Russian) provides relevant data on events and concerts at Symphony Hall and Concert Hall.

  Penza Drama Theatre  

The first amateur theatre in Penza was initiated by the Penza vice-governor, poet and memoir writer I.M. Dolgoruky in 1793. Here, the future theatre and literature critic V.G. Belinsky and the future stage director V.E. Meyerhold gained impressions of the dramatic arts. A.V. Lunacharsky Drama Theatre annually puts on dozens performances ranging from drama and tragedy to children’s New Year shows. For further information please visit theatre’s website (in Russian).

  Doctor Dapertutto Theatre  

Doctor Dapertutto Theatre is the professional intimate theatre located in V.E. Meyerhold House. It stages enchanting, unique and slightly delirious performances, which can leave nobody indifferent. The current events guide is given here (in Russian).


I.I. Sprygin Botanical Garden

Being the part of Penza State University, the Botanical Garden is one of the oldest in Russia. It was established in 1917 by the Penza Society of Nature Lovers headed by Professor I.I. Sprygin and with strong participation of Penza residents.

The Botanical Garden boasts a significant collection of the local and foreign flora (over 1500 species!) and thus preserves Earth biodiversity. It comprises three major sections:
•    dendrology section represented by the park, nursery garden and geographical areas of trees and shrubs from Siberia, Central and East Asia, Europe, and North America;
•    natural flora section, i.e. a systematic collection of herbs (about 200 species);
•    cultivated flora section, where one-, two-years, perennial adornment plants grow.

From the launch of the garden to the fire in 1966, there was a fourth section – a greenhouse with subtropical and tropical flora. The Botanical Garden’s website (in Russian) provides more relevant information about its activities, collections and working hours.

V.G. Belinsky Park

V.G. Belinsky Central Park of Rest and Recreation is located within the walking distance from Penza State University. It is one of the oldest parks in Penza, which occupies an area of 370 hectares. The city park dates back to 1821. Originally, it was called the public garden.

The park has many interesting places and buildings, among which there are recreational facilities, a planetarium, and cafes. Its visitors may walk along a health path, explore natural springs and much more. Some trees are more than 300 years old. These are unique natural landmarks. V.G. Belinsky Park is the place, where Penza residents and guests can relax, hang with friends and have a good time.

Penza Zoo

Penza Zoo is the largest zoo in the Volga Region: more than 200 animal species live on 10 hectares. It has more than 200-year history. The zoo territory comprises three natural lakes inhabited by waterfowl – pelicans, swans, and ducks. In total, it has more than two thousand pets, including lions, tigers, camels, zebra, bears, monkeys, and ostriches.

In summer, the visitors can weekly observe, how different species are fed. Feeding is preceded by a lecture about the animal. The zoo also has recreational facilities, playgrounds, photo zones, and a contact zoo. The viewing platforms of the zoo offer a beautiful view of the city and animal enclosures.

Penza Zoo annually enlarges its collection of animals. It has created excellent conditions for its inhabitants, so that many pairs (like Amur tigers, camels, and marmosets) raise cubs.

Sputnik Embankment

The Sputnik Embankment is one of the most beautiful and modern places for outdoor activities of citizens and tourists in Penza. It comprises a beach area, a health path, a park zone and a fountain square.

The beach area is equipped with pool-houses, cafes, rental of beach accessories, water skis, jet skis, boats, and pedal boats. In addition, the leisure area offers water and other attractions, such as hydrosorb, aquasorb, slide, climbing wall.

The health path with jogging and cycling trails spans around the lake. Its total length is 3.2 kilometres. Three wooden bridges between the islands unite the path and the park area with wide lawns, flower beds and hardscape elements.

The central element of the embankment is the square with the amphitheatre and the light and music fountain. This site is unique in scale and technical complexity for the Penza Region.

Olympic Parkway

The Olympic Parkway is one of the most beautiful places for sport and leisure in Penza, which appeared more than a century and a half ago. In summer, roller skaters and cyclists ride here with their friends, and in winter there are great ski tracks for whole families. The parkway starting points have rentals with a variety of sports gear and equipment.

The parkway hosts competitions, such as trials, ski races, bike rides. In addition, its display boards provide information about outstanding athletes of the Penza Region, who inspire youngsters to greater sport performance.


Дата создания: 29.05.2013 21:48
Дата обновления: 18.03.2019 17:24