Kirov (kēˈrəf) [key], formerly Vyatka vyätˈkə, city (1989 pop. 440,000), capital of Kirov region, central European Russia, on the Vyatka River. It is a river port and an industrial center that produces machinery and metalwork, chemicals, wood products, and armaments. The 17th-century cathedral and a library (1837) founded by Aleksandr Herzen, who was an exile in the city, are notable.
Founded in 1174 as Khlynov by Novgorod colonists, it was fortified against Votyak (Udmurt) and Cheremiss (Mari) attacks. It soon became the capital of an independent republic which was annexed to Moscow by Ivan III in 1489. Its location made for favorable trade conditions with Ustyug, the Volga region, and Arkhangelsk. In the 17th cent. it grew in importance because it was on the road from Moscow to Siberia. The city was renamed Vyatka in 1780, and Kirov (for S. M. Kirov) in 1934. In the 19th cent. it was used as a place of political exile.