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Tver is located in the very heart of Russia. It lies between Moscow and St. Petersburg at the confluence of three rivers: the Volga, the Tvertsa, and the T'maka. Tver is over 800 years old. Its rich history dates back to Prince Vsevolod of the Big Nest, who built a fortress at the mouth of the T'maka River in 1182. The famous Prince of Tver Mikhail (1271-1317) played a significant role in the unification of Rus' against the Mongol-Tatars. The present layout of Tver is connected with Catherine the Great and Rostrelli, the most famous of St. Petersburg's architects, who incorporated many of his ideas for the construction of St. Petersburg in rebuilding the city after the disastrous fire of 1763. Tver's clear and rational design is a unique example of architecture and city planning. The proximity of the cultural centers of Moscow and St. Petersburg does not detract from Tver's own resources. A philharmonic orchestra and several theaters offer continuous performances. Exposition halls and one of the richest picture galleries in European Russia are open for patrons of the arts. Tver also boasts historical, local lore, and literary museums. Tver is also a university town. There are four large state institutions in the city: a university, a technical university, medical and agricultural academies, as well as more than 20 colleges and lyceums.