Syzran — the region's third largest city, founded as a 17th century fortress
Tolyatti — very large city named after the Italian communist, and a major automobile producer; most of the city was destroyed in a 1950s flood, but new cultural monuments have since been built, including the massive 2003 Cathedral of the Transfiguration
Syzran's city center before the Volga
Samara River Bend National Park (Samarskaya Luka)
Zhigulevsky Nature Reserve
Samara Oblast is a heavily industrialized region along the Volga and Samara rivers. The region rose to prominence during WWII when its distance from the war front and abundant petroleum deposits made it an attractive area for a new industrial center. The region has little tourist infrastructure, but that in itself can make for interesting travel. The capital, Samara, is of particular interest since it is one of Russia's largest cities, formerly closed to all foreign visitors, and has lots to see and do.