Volgograd’s Five Main Points of InterestBy
On the banks of the River Volga in Southern Russia is the city of Volgograd. During World War II, the area was the scene of some terrible fighting between the Soviet Red Army and the German Army Group South. Much of the city was destroyed and has since been rebuilt. Throughout, visitors will find many interesting places that tell the story of the city that was originally called Tsaritsyn by the Tatars, renamed Stalingrad by the Communists and is today known as Volgograd.
Mamayev Hill was the original site of the Tatar settlement Tsaritsyn. It is the highest point in the city with commanding views of the area. Today, there is a colossal statue of Mother Russia which can be seen from miles away. She stands on top of a mound which is a mass grave of 34,000 soldiers who died hear. There are 35 Heroes of the Soviet Union buried here including the legendary sniper Vasiliy Zaitsev along with the commander of the 64th Army and twice Hero of the Soviet Union, Marshall Chuikov.
Like many cities around the world, the river is at the heart of it and Volgograd is no different. The River Volga winds its way from central Russia down to the Caspian Sea. At Volgograd it is a wide river carrying huge cargo ships. Along both banks are beautiful sandy beaches and during the summer, the water temperature can reach 25 Celcius which is on par with places like the Red Sea in Egypt in April. Every hour, short cruises depart sailing up and down the river and it allows a wonderful perspective of the city.
The Panoramic Museum is a fantastic place for anyone with even the slightest interest in the military history of Volgograd. It is located next to the Old Mill which is one of the few buildings that survived the battle. The damage to the Old Mill gives an idea what the devastation across the city. Inside the museum, there is a wealth of wonderful exhibits including the rifle used by Vasiliy Zaitsev. Plenty of time should be allowed to see everything the Panoramic Museum has to offer.
During the final days of the Battle of Stalingrad, the German Headquarters was in the basement of the Department Store. The store survives and a museum can be found hidden away in the basement. Among the items on display are portraits of the 5 Red Army soldiers who discovered the Germans and were asked to find a senior ranking office to accept their surrender. One of the men, Private Altukov of the 38th Motorised Brigade, is still alive and living in Volgograd.
Lyudnikov’s Island takes its name from the fact it was an area of the city under Soviet control that was isolated from the main force. The command post still survives although very badly damaged. Close by are a number of mass graves of fallen soldiers 138th Division who died here during the Battle of Stalingrad.