Shakhty (Russian: Øà́õòû) is a city located in Rostov Oblast (region), Russia. The city is located 75 km northeast of Rostov-on-Don on the south-eastern spur of the Donetsk mountain ridge. Shakhty is a rather odd place. It combines in itself a number of opposing expectations - you can witness modern trading centres with ugly old buildings serving as a backdrop; the market that pre-dates the fall of Soviet rule surrounded by the European-styled shops; the exceptional blend of old traditions and progressive outlook of its people. Periods of history clash in an unusual mix of socialist ideologies, modern attitudes and contemporary lifestyle. However, the contradictions don't end there, and that's what makes this town so special to the hearts and minds of the locals.
The town was established in 1867 at the time when the mining industry was booming. In fact, mining was to become our pride that would eventually place our town on the world map. At some point in its long history, Shakhty was the centre of Kamensk region. Political forces changed and so did the future of the region, including the miners' town. Indeed this once was the regional centre for coal production until late 80-s but just like in the UK, the United States and other developed countries coal was on its way out. We produced more coal than any other town in the region, we had the greatest miners working here and we taught the next generation to dream and work hard to achieve those dreams. It resonated not only through the mining industry but also through the minds of great sportsmen, artists and educators.
The positioning of the town and its landscape are rather confusing. Its structure resembles an irregular star with the town centre being in the middle and “miners'” settlements being the ends of this unusual formation. The settlements or villages have grown to be as large as the town centre itself, thus contributing to the overall territory of Shakhty. For example, with the population of 223 000 Shakhty has its circumference at a whopping 85 km. Compare this to 109 km for Moscow. Established in 1867 it is a mere 100 years younger than the United States!
Even though the town is located in steppe it has an uneven relief. The town centre is situated on the hilltop. With Sovetskaya stretching for 4-5 kilometres, it makes for a challenging walk from one end to the other but it open a breathtaking view of the town to the traveller. And if walking is not for you, then try rock-climbing! Still not good enough? Perhaps you would enjoy a light breeze on one of many artificial lakes dotted around the settlements.
The industrial model failed, but not entirely. We learnt our lessons and today Shakhty reminds one of the theatre where its traditions and modern tendencies play out their important roles. It manifests itself in many ways. The sports complex is being rebuilt and teaching standards improve thanks to the educational centres. Textile industry is well established and foods industry is on the rise. Jobs are being created through the service industry and it generates wealth as well as social cohesion.
Shakhty is also a cultural centre. The local theatre gives frequent performances and at the town's Culture Centre you may enjoy listening to various bands and performers as they visit the town from the capital and other cities. By far the most exciting and popular event is the KVN. People from many different backgrounds come together to make jokes, to full around and generally to have lots of fun. People of Shakhty love celebrating numerous public holidays. Celebrations take place mainly in the Central Park or Lenin Square. Old or young, local or not, people enjoy themselves often singing and cheering together to the folk tunes.
In recent years, Shakhty has become an epicentre of night-time entertainment. There are many themed night clubs sprinkled around the town where young people take pleasure in dancing, relaxing and meeting new friends. Those who enjoy an occasional pint of larger can pop into one of the sports bars all in the vicinity of the town centre. Even though you don't have to walk far for most of the facilities, you can always catch a cheap ride in a taxi. If you are a business traveller, then there is a great choice of high standard restaurants in the town centre. There is a choice between Italian food restaurants, Japanese sushi parlours and even proper British pubs. As a matter of fact, lots of businessmen come to the town for conferences, some live here and some spend their weekends simply having fun.
There is a lot that Shakhty has to offer for more pro-active visitors. There is a snooker club with 20 tables, a bowling centre with five-lane alley and a sports centre which offers many different services including an Olympic size swimming pool and a power-lifting room. It is also worth noting that Shakhty has earned its place in the Book of World Records for being the only town in the world that has the highest number of Olympic medalists per head of its population. Outstanding sports personalities such as Vasiliy Alekseev, double Olympic champion in weightlifting, Marina Logvinenko, the Olympic champion in shooting, the high jump Olympic gold medallist Andrei Silnov and many others have truly placed Shakhty on the world stage.
Shakhty is different because of its location, history and people. There isn't another town like that but to breathe its spirit you need to live it up. Experience something new; experience a different kind of life. Shakhty welcomes you, and so do we!