Tula Travel Guide
Tula is not just an industrial city, but is also famous for its military weapons, Russian samovars and pryaniki (gingerbread biscuits with jam). There is much to recommend in the city: its own picturesque Kremlin, fancy restaurants with traditional atmospheres, Yasnaya Polyana (former estate of the great Leo Tolstoy), and numerous museums and parks.
Tula is one of the oldest cities in Russia. It was first mentioned in the Nikon chronicle of the 16th century.
The settlements already existed at that time, but the exact date of foundation remains unknown. Its favourable position on the southern edge of the state and proximity to the Upper Oka River made Tula a powerful defensive fortress. In the 14th century, Tula was the possession of the wife of the Tatar Khan Janibek - Tayduly. In 1503, it was annexed to the Moscow Grand Duchy. The Kremlin was built in 1514-1521 on the left bank of the Upa River and became the centre of the developing city. In 1552, Tula survived a siege by 30 000 troops of the Crimean Khan Devlet I Giray, who tried to stop the troops of Ivan the Terrible.
At the beginning of the 17th century, the city suffered under the tough regime of the Times of Trouble. In 1607, Tula was gripped by a peasant uprising led by Ivan Bolotnikov. After a four-month siege of the city, the government forces were able to suppress the rebels. In 1611-1612, the inhabitants took part in the national struggle against the Polish interventionists which culminated in the liberation of Moscow.
By the middle of the 17th century, when the fortified border of the Russian state moved to the south, Tula gradually turned into a commercial and industrial centre. The development of the traditional forge craft was encouraged by Moscow sovereigns, who needed their own ironwork and rifle industry.
The rifle industry began to develop in 1595, when Tsar Feodor I Ivanovich ordered blacksmiths to make state-owned weapons. At the end of the 17th century, the iron-making industry was transferred to Nikita Demidov, the skilful gunsmith.
The country's first state arms factory was built in 1712 by decree of Peter I. Tula became a centre for the production of weapons and metal products that were sold throughout Russia.
During the Patriotic War of 1812, Tula made a significant contribution to the defeat of Napoleon's troops. It was determined by the supply of weapons (in 1812-1814, the gunsmiths supplied the army with 600 000 rifles) and active participation as part of the regular army and the people's militia. The Tula militiamen fought in Europe and joined the Russian army in Paris in March 1814.
In the late 19th -early 20th century, large metallurgical, metalworking, military and sugar enterprises appeared in Tula. Together with the arms factory reconstructed in 1870-73, they were among the largest industrial enterprises in Russia. The production of samovars and gingerbread also developed.
According to the census of 1912-1913, the number of samovar factories was 50, with an annual output of 660 000 samovars.
The Soviet government took power in 1917. During the Civil War, the city was the centre of the Red Army's armament system.
Where to Stay
If you want to stay within walking distance of the main attractions, chose a hotel or apartment in Sovetsky district. Centre Rooms Inn, Armenia Hotel and Profit Hotel are the most convenient places to stay. You can also choose cheaper accommodation: Guest House Staraya Tula, Podvorie Hotel, Like Hostel Tula or Guest House Evropeysky.
Bars and Restaurants
The region’s most famous culinary souvenir is pryanik - gingerbread cookies of different forms and sizes.
At Pyotr Petrovich with its friendly atmosphere, located near Central Park, you can try homemade sausages and their own beer. If you want to try Georgian specialities like khinkali (dumplings) and fabulous wines, head for Kremlin Taverna. For meat lovers, Lisya Nora is a must-see. Here, you can also try homemade bread and liqueurs. If you want to try traditional dishes with a German touch, take a look at Frau Marta. They serve a great variety of sausages with French fries, apple strudel and German beer. Visitors also recommend Beerlin, Spices and Joy and Public.
What to See
- One of the city’s most important historical attractions is the Tula Kremlin, a striking example of Russian defence architecture of the early 16th century. In 1507, five years after Tula entered the Moscow State, Prince Vasily III ordered the construction of an oak fortress to protect the Moscow route on the strategically important Crimean Tatar road. For several centuries, the Tula Kremlin was the main southern defensive outpost. It’s a unique complex of monuments of architecture and history. Its territory includes the Assumption Cathedral, built in the Russian Baroque style in 1766, the Epiphany Cathedral from the late 19th century, built to commemorate the soldiers who died in the Patriotic War of 1812, as well as 19th-century shopping malls and the first city power plant from the 20th century.
- Kulikovo Field is a unique memorial site, which reminds us of one of the most important events in Russian history. Here, at the confluence of the Don and Nepryadva Rivers, on 8 September 1380, there was a battle with Khan Mamai which marked the beginning of the liberation of Russia from the Mongol-Tatar Yoke. On 25 October 2016, the main exposition was opened here. The new museum complex is equipped with all necessary modern facilities: free parking, a reception centre for visitors, a cafe, souvenir shops and an observation deck.
- If you want to find out more about the samovar and Tula gingerbread, learn the traditions behind their printing in Tula, and see the oldest gingerbread and taste freshly baked ones, visit the Tula Gingerbread Museum.
- A samovar is more than an everyday container for making tea. It is the most famous symbol of the city. The Museum of Samovars opened in 1990 from the collection in the Tula Regional Historical and Architectural Museum.
- Yasnaya Polyana is the family estate of Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy. Here, he wrote his legendary War and Peace and Anna Karenina. To get to Yasnaya Polyana, take trolleybus No. 5 from the city’s bus station and then change to bus No. 114 or 280.
- We also recommend visiting the beautiful estate of the famous artist Vasily Polenov, which is located in a picturesque spot on the banks of the Oka River in the Tula region. Nearly everything in Polenovo was built according to the artist’s design, including the Trinity Church located in the village of Beyhovo. It is interesting that even the large park and all the flower gardens around the house and buildings were planted by Polenov himself. It’s worth noting that Polenovo is almost perfectly preserved to this day; only a few minor buildings have been destroyed.
Tula is a popular tourist destination, so you won’t have any problems getting to the city. Its railway station is about 3 km from the Kremlin. You can also use the express train, but this runs only at the weekend. There are several bus stations in the city (Tula, Schekino and Zarechie). To get around, use buses (No. 4, 11, 37 and 56), trams, minibuses and the trolleybus (No. 5).