Volgograd Express trams, wide avenues, and tragic memory of the past
Volgograd was called Tsaritsyn in the imperial times and then Stalingrad before the Thaw period. This city is significant for Russian people as the site of the pivotal battle of World War II with in a total toll of about one million on both sides. The ancient Russian city was destroyed to rubble and had to be reconstructed. Everything in this city — its wide avenues, empire-style buildings, monuments, and the mindset of the locals — is saturated by the memory of the war.
Places worth seeing
Panorama Museum of the Battle of Stalingrad
Lasting 200 days and nights, the Battle of Stalingrad became one of the largest and bloodiest battles of World War II. The museum park located in Marshala Chuykova street is dedicated to the memory of this historic episode. The museum exhibits military tanks and planes, precision rifles that belonged to the Soviet heroes, soldiers’ personal belongings, war leaflets, telegrams, and letters from the frontline.
The main entrance is located in Soviet street. In the center you can see the rotunda building with the main exhibition, to the right - military equipment and aircrafts, and to the left — the ruins of Grudinin’s mill left as they looked in 1943. The half-ruined building is a symbol of a war-torn city.
Not far from the mill there is a fountain “Barmaley” with children dancing around a crocodile, an illustration of Chukovsky’s fairy-tale poem. According to the plot, the crocodile swallowed the villain Barmaley and, therefore, saved children from all over the world from danger.
The museum entrance ticket is 250 rubles, and the outdoor military equipment exhibition is free to visit. Please note that, according to the rules of the museum, entering with a baby stroller is forbidden. You’ll also be asked to take off your backpack. We strongly recommend taking a guide tour. Local guides really care to immerse visitors into the history surrounding the exhibition.
Pavlov’s House is located across from the Panorama Museum. It is a four-storey building that the Soviet soldiers defended during the Stalingrad battle for 58 days. Constructed in the 1930’s, it was considered one of the most beautiful buildings in the city, but the battle left it half-destroyed. Today, Pavlov’s House is a monument of its time. There is a wall carving with the statement “58 days in the fire” on the side of the building facing Lenin square. On the side of Soviet street, there is a wall made of red bricks that displays: “Here the feat of arms got fused with the feat of labor.”
You can explore dozens of other houses from the Soviet era which got well-preserved in this area of the city.
Mamayev Kurgan and The Motherland Calls
During the Great Patriotic War the most severe battles were fought on Mamayev Kurgan. The Battle of Stalingrad lasted here for 135 days (out of 200). Today collective graves of 35 thousand people are located here.
Express trams are available to take visitors to the bottom of Kurgan: to reach the top of the monument you need to climb 200 stairs symbolising the 200 days of the battle. The architectural complex consists of the high-relief composition “Memory of The Generations”, Square of the Heroes, Square of the Fallen, Square of Sorrow and other objects with symbolic and mournful names. At the heart of the composition, you will see one of the most recognisable landmarks of Volgograd – the world-famous statue “The Motherland Calls!”, 85 metres high. The statue represents a woman with a sword encouraging her sons to defend the homeland. The sculpture is hollow and has stairs inside. However, tourists are not usually allowed in.
The Central Embankment
The locals take walks along the upper part of the embankment. Here there is a well-organized park, bike lanes, and other attractions. Its lower part is completely abandoned and has nothing but an empty platform of concrete. And yet this is the place of the Volgograd riverport (the largest in Europe) and the home of the creative cluster “Ikra”. Unfortunately, there are a lot of mosquitos by the water so, please, keep that in mind when spending time on the embankment. Unfortunately, there are a lot of mosquitos by the water so, please, keep that in mind when spending time on the embankment.
The Old Sarepta Museum
A great architectural complex was built by the colonists from the city Herrnhut — a long time ago a colony of European religious missionaries settled here. Nowadays, there are only 26 buildings left, 23 of which are considered to be XVIII- XIX century monuments of federal significance of. At the museum, you can learn about the daily routine of the Germans, see how the first Russian mustard plant looked like, and explore a Sareptian pharmacist’s residence of the XIX century. The beauty of the local church and its organ deserve extra attention. There is a café “Glich” not far from the museum where you can try gingerbread cookies baked according to an old Sareptian recipe.
There is a small hotel with only 5 rooms available on the Old Sarepta premises. The rooms are comfortable and cozy, the only disadvantage being the absence of a café. You can book lodgings by phone +7 (8442) 67-00-40, +7 (960) 890-47-59.
The Museum is located in Krasnoarmeysky district, about 40 minutes away from the city by car. You can get to the Old Sarepta by a suburban train from the railway station. The station is called “Krasnoarmeysk”. You can also get there via buses № 77, 55 or minibuses № 91а, 70а from the city centre to the stop “Avenue of Heroes of Stalingrad” (“Vinogradnaya”). The opening hours are 9 a.m. — 5.30 p.m.
Not far from Sarepta, there is a 101-kilometre canal linking the Volga River with the Don. At the entrance, you will see a lighthouse and the monument to Vladimir Lenin, considered the world’s tallest statue of a real person. This huge monument commemorates the point where the two longest Russian rivers merge into one. It is worth coming here to enjoy breathtaking views.
Near the gateway arch at Lock №1, there is an entrance to the Museum of the Volga-Don Canal History. The guide will tell the canal’s construction history, show its huge embossed model and even demonstrate the mammoth bones found during the canal’s construction period. The opening hours are from 10 to 12 and from 1 to 4pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Please book in advance via +7 (8442) 63–32–68 or +7 (8442) 63–32–65 if you would like to visit the Museum and have an excursion.
The exterior of the building crowned with Vera Mukhina’s last statue (the author of The Worker and Collective Farm Woman of Mosfilm) is just as interesting as its interior. In the Star Hall you can see a dome-shaped roof with a huge instrument consisting of 99 projectors manufactured back in GDR. The projectors make it possible to observe about 6000 stars and planets. The local observatory also has a powerful telescope that allows to see the Sun during daytime, and the Moon, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter in the evening.
The Village of Rossoshky
Forty minutes away from the city there is one more tragic memorial place – a military-memorial cemetery where the Russian and the German soldiers are buried close to each other. About 1500 people are buried here altogether. On the Russian side of the cemetery, there are gravestones with names of the fallen, and on the German side you can see granit cubes with names of the Germans gone missing. On the Soviet side, there is a statue of a grieving woman holding a bell with no clapper. The German side is framed by Memory Square with a black cross.
The cemetery is difficult to reach as it is located in a field. Take buses №141 or 143 to the stop called “Stepnoy settlement” and walk 5 km after you get off. Another option is to take a regular bus route Volgograd — Zapadnovka from the local bus terminal. The bus runs twice a day, at 5.20am and 5pm.
Cultural life in Volgograd is stirred at creative clusters. This is where local designers, artists, journalists, and freelancers hang out and organize interesting lectures. The most interesting spots are “Ikra” on the embankment and “Loft 1890” in the city centre (located in the former Zhigulevsky beer-warehouses). After the building had been renovated, it became a meeting point for the art community.
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