Saransk is the capital city of the Republic of Mordovia, its financial and economic center. It is located on the river Insar, about 642 km (399 mi) southeast of Moscow.
Saransk was founded as a fortress in 1641. It was part of a chain of fortifications, created by Grand Duchy of Moscow and later the Tsardom of Russia, to protect it from the raids of the Crimean Tatars. The fortress was far away from the main trade routes, so it could not become a major economic center and until the 1930s it was largely comprised of wooden one-story houses. It was appointed as the capital of the Mordovia in 1934 which imposed grand urban redevelopment; the old center was almost entirely demolished and replaced by Stalin-era architecture. The center was then again modernised between 2000 and 2010; some houses were restored using modern materials and some were demolished and replaced by modern harmonious buildings. In 2018 Saransk hosted World Cup football matches.
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