Samara is a very diverse city. It is a merchant town and an important aerospace centre; it is athletic, musical and youthful. Back in 1916, Boris Pasternak, Russian poet, novelist and future Nobel Prize laureate, wrote: "Samara is the best, the most sinful, most elegant and most comfortable part of Moscow, cut out from the city and transplanted on the banks of the Volga."
Next to the cathedral is the Alexandra Kurlina house. She was the wife of a Samara merchant, and the house, built in 1903, was the first Samara house built in Art Nouveau style. Kurlina's house was the one of most expensive pieces of real estate in the city at the beginning of the 20th century. Aside from the luxurious look, the house had all the modern comforts available at the time: plumbing, hot-air heating, electricity, and even a telephone – an incredible luxury for the times. Today, Kurlina's house is home to the Art Nouveau Museum.