Volgograd is a significant tourist destination in southern Russia. Every year thousands of Russians and foreign guests come here to take a closer look at the city sights, the majority of which are intrinsically connected to World War II.
Volgograd is the city that was fought for…
Each house, each apartment, and each step – everything here was struggled for. In Volgograd you can still feel the bloody clashes of the past in the air. The Battle of Stalingrad (Volgograd used to be called Stalingrad for a period of time) was destined to become the tipping point of the Second World War. It is a true symbol of courage and valor displayed by all the nations of the former USSR. All of Volgograd’s main places of interest are related to World War II. The city, for its part, bears the honorary title of a Hero City.
At present Volgograd is a large industrial center in the Volga Region. Volgograd stretches 100 kilometers along the Volga’s right bank, and has a population of more than 1 million people. The city is constantly growing and developing, yet one thing remains unchanged – its astonishing places visited by thousands of tourists every year.
So then, where to go and what to see? We have created a list of things that you have to do when in Volgograd to make your trip unforgettable. Here we go!
1. Visit Mamayev Kurgan
Let’s say this is required! J Under no circumstances is anyone allowed to come to Volgograd and not to see its main attraction.
This is the most massive memorial complex in Russia, and is dedicated to World War II heroes. During the Battle of Stalingrad heavy fighting lasted here for 200 days. About 35 thousand warriors lie buried at Mamayev Kurgan. This monument’s architects wanted to show how enormous the significance of the Battle of Stalingrad is to Russian people. Here it is impossible not to be imbued with the greatness of the feat pulled off by soldiers during the war.
The memorial complex commemorating the heroes of the Battle of Stalingrad is crowned by a statue named “The Motherland Calls”; a monument, which is one of the tallest statues in the world. Go for a stroll along the viewing platform and take a look at the statue’s concrete cloak, which flutters powerfully over your head.
Apart from the captivating Motherland statue, you can visit a great many other places: the exhibition hall, the military memorial cemetery, All Saints Cathedral, Heroes’ Square, the Hall of Military Fame, the Square of Grief, and the arboretum. Such variety is going to appeal to both adults and children as everyone will be able to find something they like.
Just take it from us that even an ordinary walk in this complex is sure to become one of your most enduring memories from Volgograd.
2. Arrive at Central station
No-no-no! Not with the intent to leave the city on the next train! But just to see one of the most gorgeous railway stations in the country. In 1997 this station was even declared an architectural landmark.
In the 50s, when building this station, builders and architects truly did their best. The building is decorated with various art paintings, frescos, and bas-reliefs. And if one crosses the station with his head tilted upwards, he may believe he is walking through a museum.
3. Buy some Sarepta mustard oil
Volgograd is considered the Russian capital of mustard and mustard oil. The city is among the small number of places that have been involved in the production of such goods for many years. The greatest achievement of Volgograd geneticists is Sarepta mustard seeds. This mustard is truly unique and has no analogue in the world. Fragrant, savory, and healthy – this delicacy used to be specially ordered from England for the empress’ table. You can purchase this oil in any Volgograd shop. It is sure to be a wonderful souvenir or gift.
4. Visit the Stalingrad Battle Panoramic Museum
Stalingrad Battle Panoramic Museum is one of the most notable attractions of Volgograd. This unusually-shaped memorial complex holds a museum and museum depository on its first level, and on the second level one can find a circular panorama, called “The Rout of the German-Nazi Troops near Stalingrad”.
The museum collection includes not only exhibits, but also real machinery, uniforms, parts of crashed planes, military operations maps, and even letters and photos that have been preserved until today. The tour about the Battle of Stalingrad, represented in the panorama on the museum’s top floor, is absolutely worth taking, as you will better understand how the events unfolded. Having left the museum, you will get an opportunity to examine real tanks and planes rather closely, as it is not prohibited to climb on them.
5. Learn the history of Pavlov’s House
At first glance it seems to be an ordinary residential building. But during the Second World War it became the symbol of courage and fortitude of the Russian soldiers. It is said that Germans themselves used to call this house a fortress, for it was impossible to seize.
The first thing that catches your eye when looking at Pavlov’s House is a tremendous memorial wall. Disfigured with bullets and shells, it reminds us that the past war was real, and reminds us of the hard victory of the Soviet people.
The inscription on the memorial says: "The feat of arms and labor merged into one in this house". What exactly happened in this place? Was the house seized by Nazi invaders? How many warriors fell near the walls of this house? You may find these and many other answers if you visit Volgograd and the famous Pavlov's House.
6. Go on a cruise on the Volga
Boat trips are tourists' favorite pastime here. You can choose a trip that suits your taste, whether you would rather spend only 1.5-2 hours on board, or stay there for the entire evening listening to music and enjoying the entertainment program. There are also weekend trips accompanied by creative programs and outdoor games.
If you are not keen on such journeys, you can just have a seat on the bank of the Volga and admire the vastness of this river.
7. Take a ride on the high-speed tram
This is another of Volgograd's "calling cards” a kind of Volgograd subway. However, this high-speed underground tram is not a proper subway system: it is more akin to a hybrid of subway and tram (a so-called “Metrotram”). Through the years of its existence the city Metrotram has become a popular tourist attraction.
The idea to create a new type of electric city transport system that combines the advantages of a subway and a usual tram was proposed by the specialists of the "Hydrocommundortrans" Institute and the Panfilov Public Service Academy in the middle of the 60s.
Forbes magazine put the high-speed tram at 4th place in its list of the most interesting tram routes in the world.
Metrotram is a unique means of transport, which can be encountered only in a few countries, for instance, in Ukraine, Belgium or in a number of German cities. The high-speed tram is one of the city's true places of interest, and thus it is always included in tourist programs along with Mamayev kurgan.
8. Take a picture with the poplar
Yes, you are not mistaken, with the poplar. Why is this tree unusual? There truly is something unusual in the poplar that grows in Volgograd Heroes Alley: it survived the war. A live witness of those terrifying days. Although the tree was wounded with many bullets, it still has an air of might and wisdom.
9. Go to Lake Elton
Lake Elton is one of the most curious natural objects in the Volgograd region. It is a real miracle of nature, the pearl of the Volga steppe - the largest salt lake in Europe, which has an area of 152 square kilometers among flat steppe terrain. It is hard to find a place that could compare to Elton with regard to its beauty and the diversity of landscape: shallow water, beaches, salt-marshes, the picturesque estuaries of its tributaries, gullies, ravines, and valleys.
The name Elton came from Kazakh "Altyn-Nur", which means "a golden lake", due to the purple-red color of its waters (salt water), which glitters like gold, usually after noon, when the sun is moving to the west.
Lake Elton is situated on the territory of "Eltonsky" Natural Park, which is also capable of surprising tourists with its amusing sights. Such a trip might take the whole day, but the time spent here will seem like a brief moment of pleasure, and you will certainly wish to return to this paradise.
10. Hunt out and purchase a tourist stamp
A tourist stamp is another of Volgograd's gems, which can be taken as a keepsake. It is a small wooden chip, on which the image of one of the city's main attractions is burned manually.
There are three types of such stamps here: two high-speed tram line underground stations - "Lenin square" and "Children's theater" – and the anniversary stamp called "The first Volgograd's electric tram".
It is necessary to know that such stamps are sold only next to the historic places depicted on them. It turns out that they may serve as a proof that you have actually been there.
Well, this is our “to do” list for Volgograd visitors. We hope that your memories of this city will be fond and vivid, and that you leave with the desire to repeat your trip all over again.
by Ekaterina Svirskaya, Alexandra Salonina (Translator)