History of Azov, at the mouth of the river

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Azov is one of the places where the Russian and Turkish worlds met most often, two of the largest and longest-lived empires in history

The words of Ibn Battuta

“So we started walking again and it took us half a day to cross another marshy area, after which in 3 days we were in Azov, on the seashore.”

Birth of Azov

The area around Azov was inhabited since time immemorial due to its strategic position, it is no coincidence that over the centuries settlements of Meozi, Greeks and Genoese arose; the latter two specifically shared the city of Tana, located today just about 60 km away. The story of Azov, however, begins only in 1269, the year in which its existence is mentioned for the first time in some documents of the Golden Horde. It seems that the latter benefited above all from the arrival of Mengu Timur, a khan who, compared to the others, affected this area less, making it free to grow and prosper.


Taking advantage of the incredible position and the ancient Byzantine and Genoese trade routes, Azov quickly became one of the economic centers of the entire Silk Road, placing itself as a strategic hub both for travelers determined to reach Central Asia and for merchants who bought their goods here, which flowed here in variety and abundance. Wealth and trade became so great and strong that it led the latter to establish its own mint, which is very rare for the area; however this incredible well-being was not always frowned upon, so much so that there were several massacres carried out by the Mongols and starting from 1381 its territory was reduced three times. The most catastrophic event, however, was the arrival of Tamerlane, who in his fight against the Golden Horde almost razed it to the ground.

Sultans and tsars

In 1475 these territories passed under Ottoman rule who immediately built a large fortress destined to be the northernmost point of their immense empire for a long time. In 1637 it began to fall prey to the Cossacks of the Don, who occupied it, exterminating a large part of the population but without being able to establish a stable power, so much so that already in 1642 it returned to be part of the domains of the Sublime Porte; however, that was only the first step in a clash that will last for more than a century. Between 1695 and 1696 the fortress will in fact become the first strategic objective of the new Tsar Peter the Great, who, with the 1700 Treaty of Constantinople, snatched the first strategic victory from the Ottomans. However, these did not give up and after just 11 years, with the Peace of Prut, they regained control of the city. With the Treaty of Nyssa of 1739, Russia, despite being defeated, had the possibility of building its own port in Azov, provided that there were no fortifications and military ships of any kind; with the end of the Russo-Turkish wars of 1774, the settlement finally and permanently passed into the hands of Moscow.


Dopo il cambio di potere la città conobbe un notevole sviluppo, ma si trasformò de facto in un sobborgo di Rostov, nuova vicina città voluta fortemente dai russi e che nel giro di qualche anno divenne il vero centro della zona.

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