Tula is one of the oldest cities in Russia. It was first mentioned as a fortress of the Principality of Ryazan in 1146. Extremely important defensive value of Tula was related to its position on the southern edge of the state (constant threat of raids of the Crimean Tatars) and proximity to the Upper Oka (the border with Lithuania). This caused constant concern for strengthening Tula as a key defense point.
In 1503, Tula was annexed to the Grand Principality of Moscow. After it, a brick citadel (Kremlin) was built. In 1552, the fortress of Tula withstood the siege of the troops led by the Crimean Khan Devlet I Giray, who tried to prevent the march of the Moscow troops of Ivan the Terrible to Kazan.
By the middle of the 17th century, when the border of the Russian state moved to the south, Tula began to turn into a commercial and industrial center. In 1712, by decree of Peter I, construction of the first state arms factory in the Russian Empire began in Tula. The town became the center of weapons production and metal products.
Today, Tula is one of the major Russian industrial and commercial centers. The leading industries are ferrous metallurgy, machine building, and metalworking.
The coat of arms of Tula reflects the character of the city associated with the production of armaments. The main holiday is the City Day, held annually on the second Saturday of September.
The climate is temperate continental, characterized by warm summers and moderately cold winters. The average temperature in February is minus 7.3 degrees Celsius, in July – plus 19.4 degrees Celsius.
Tula is famous for its traditional Russian cookies made with honey and gingerbread – pryaniki. In the West, Tula is perhaps best known as the center of samovar production: the Russian equivalent of “coals to Newcastle” is “You don’t take a samovar to Tula”. (The saying is falsely ascribed to the writer and playwright Anton Chekhov, whose made a satirical portrait of one of his characters saying “Taking your wife to Paris is the same as taking your own samovar to Tula”.)
The most popular tourist attraction in Tula Oblast is Yasnaya Polyana, the home and burial place of the writer Leo Tolstoy. It is situated 14 kilometers (9 miles) south-west of the city. It was here that Tolstoy wrote his celebrated novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina.