Upon reaching the industrial shores of Voronezh, your first reaction may be to swallow in dread. Black, belching smokestacks line the riverbank, and in addition to the smog, an opaque gritty pessimism hangs over the town. Indeed, Voronezh is a city scraping and clawing its way out of the Soviet era, with few immediate signs of success. Construction is rampant in this large city, giving rise to everything from gleaming new churches to cookie-cutter apartment buildings - but all the scaffolding cannot conceal the poverty that afflicts most citizens here.
The sullen Adidas-clad young men who seem to lurk on every corner of provincial European Russia are particularly numerous in Voronezh. Unfortunately, there have been attacks on foreign visitors in recent years, and travellers should be particularly cautious when visiting this city.
Though Voronezh lacks the charm and accessibility of smaller towns in the region, it does contain some interesting sights, and the growing number of cafés and restaurants suggest Voronezh may be on the up and up. The city and the surrounding district are fondly remembered by many Russians for their rich history, which you can uncover at a handful of small museums, as well at the beautiful St Alexey monastery.