Volgograd is indeed a place where the course of the World War II was changed. It is situated on the bank of the Volga River. The city was named in 1961 and if translated, it means “Volga City”. At the time of the Soviet regime, it was called Stalingrad, but despite all the names, it is famous for the historical battle that turned the course of the World War II. Because of that famous victory, Volgograd received a nickname “Hero City”, when the Axis troops dramatically lost. The historical background of the city is among the top reasons to come to Volgograd.
Volgograd was built at the end of the 16th century and since that have changed its name many times. At first Tsaritsyn, then Stalingrad and lastly Volgograd. It received its first name because of the location at the place where Volga and Tsariitsa rivers fall one into the other. Originally a huge fortress, it was later rebuilt into a trading port. When it was a fortress, Volgograd faced a great amount of rebellions and attacks and witnessed hundreds of battles.
The Battle of Stalingrad
At the time of World War II Volgograd was attractable to Hitler and Mussolini due to its economic and industrial power and significant trading routes. The battle that defined the outcome of the War is called “The Battle of Stalingrad”. It became one of the greatest victories over the German army and the first one that Germany openly admitted. Due to the severe Russian winter, when soldiers were frozen to death and starved from the lack of food, the Soviet army crushed the Nazis. The chief of the operation, Friedrich Paulus, tried to protect the lives of his soldiers in spite of Hitler’s command to fight until the very end. The general was the most important German troop that the Russians captured.
During the course of the battle around two million people died, giving it the name of the bloodiest World War II battle and probably one of the harshest battles in world’s history. This victory is the prominent feature of Volgograd.
Visiting Volgograd/Stalingrad today
The whole city is a historical area and a living war museum. Tourists can see throughout every house, building and sculpture the locals’ pride for their fearless ancestors. Probably the most visited place is the Mamayev Kurgan memorial complex, rising over Volgograd. It stands on the hill, which took an important part in the battle’s course because it was possible to gain the control of the entire city from the hill. Volgograd has witnessed the hardest times for Russia. Nevertheless, people were able to overcome all the bad to start a new happy life, which can be seen everywhere in Volgograd. The memorial complex is the real proof of the tremendous battle.
Among the various monuments, it is highly recommended to see the statue of Mother Russia. Rising from the top of the Mamaev Kurgan, it has a height of 82 meters (279 feet). When constructed in 1967, it became the highest monument in the world. It has two hundred steps that go to the statue’s foot, which is an allegory for the 200 days of the Battle of Stalingrad’s duration.