One of the most terrible events of the twentieth century, the Battle of Stalingrad lasted from 17 July 1942 to 2 February 1943 and effectively determined the outcome of the Second World War. Following these tragic but victorious events, Stalingrad was left all but destroyed. The city was rebuilt from the ground up and today is not just a memorial of the Great Patriotic War, but also a living masterpiece of Soviet architecture.
The design of post-war Stalingrad was the work of the best Soviet architects: Karo Alabyan, Vasily Simbirtsev and Yefim Levitan. The city was ideologically extremely important. The architects therefore adopted the concept of a monument city with Roman triumphal motifs and large architectural forms.
Stalingrad had been a feature of urban planning textbooks even before the war for being the place where the concept of a linear city was first implemented. The new city plan of 1945 ensured that Stalingrad preserved this linear system of planning: all eight districts of the 65-km (40 mi) city are connected by several lengthwise main roads that run parallel to the Volga. The city was given austere squares and blocks, wide streets and perpendicular intersections, monumental buildings that remind us of the solemn victory, and so-called “city palaces” with classical architectural elements.
The Square of Fallen Fighters is one of the best view points from which to appreciate the scale and monumentalism of the post-war reconstruction. Before the war, the shape of the square was irregular. Today it has a symmetrical trapezoidal shape with its widest side opening towards the Volga and Alley of Heroes. Around the square you’ll see the buildings of the regional Communist Party school, which today houses the Volgograd Medical University (architects Vasily Simbirtsev and Yefim Levitan), the Volgograd Hotel (architect Alexander Kurovsky), the Intourist Hotel (architect Boris Goldman) and the Gidrostroy/Hydro Construction building (architect Yefim Levitan). The latter two buildings frame the reconstructed Central Department Store.
The buildings share the same design: with rusticated lower walls, at the third-floor level there is a “wreath” of evenly-spaced Corinthian wall piers that give the architectural ensemble a solemn emphasis and memorial feel. The area was designed as a garden square to frame the common graves of the fallen heroes of Tsaritsyn and Stalingrad located at the axis of the esplanade. The graves are marked with a massive sarcophagus made of red polished granite, on top of which rests a bronze wreath and a bronze star with an Eternal Flame that was lit on 1 February 1963. The ensemble is crowned with a 50-metre high granite obelisk.
In 1965, guard post #1 was established near the Eternal Flame and an honour guard was organised by local schoolchildren. Each change of the guard included four children. Even today the local youth continue to hold vigils near the Eternal Flame.
- Ulitsa Mira, Ploschad Pavshikh Bortsov
The theatre was built in 1915 by merchant Alexander Repnikov and was first known as the House of Science and Arts. The reconstruction completed in 1952 turned this building into one of Volgograd’s first “city palaces”. If you look beyond the sculptured colonnade, you’ll see the restored pre-war facade. Until 1989 the building was home to the Volgograd Gorky Drama Theatre.
- Alleya Geroyev
In the centre of the upper terrace is the Art Fountain, which the locals call the “friendship fountain”. This is a traditional meeting place for old friends from school and university. The fountain was created in 1957 by sculptor Sergei Aleshin as per the design of architect Vasily Shalashov. In 2012, following reconstruction, the fountain was “animated” and given light and music accompaniment.
For the locals, the embankment is a favourite spot for leisurely walks. On national holidays or for concerts a stage is erected on the lower terrace, turning the embankment into an open-air concert venue for several hundred thousand people.
- Ulitsa Naberezhnaya
- Ulitsa Marshala Chuikova, 15
- 7 (961) 088 36 63 on appointment
The Stalingrad Musical Comedy Theatre had its first premiere in the former building of Tsaritsin’s Concordia Theatre, on the bank of the Tsaritsa River, in 1932. It was the operetta The Bondwoman by Nikolai Strelnikov. The company rolled out 13 premieres its first year, touring Moscow, Kiev and Kharkov. The subsequent seasons were just as successfUlitsa The company staged the works of such operetta classics as Carl Zeller, Robert Planquette, Franz Lehar, Imre Kalman, and Johann Strauss, as well as the operettas of modern composers: Sorochintsi Fair by Aleksey Ryabov, Wedding at Malinovka by Boris Aleksandrov, Golden Valley by Isaac Dunayevsky, and others. Then came the war. Everything the company had – props, costumes, even the building – was destroyed in the Battle of Stalingrad. Evacuating to Kazan and Omsk, the Stalingrad Musical Company Theatre continued to rehearse and perform. When Stalingrad was liberated, the company returned to the city intact. The Tractor Factory gave the company its recently renovated club building. The place was not very comfortable to work in. There was no heating, but the house was always packed for the company’s performances. The Stalingrad Musical Company Theatre was allotted a beautiful historical building on the embankment in 1952. The company’s repertoire continued to expand. The staged the operas The Bartered Bride by Bedrich Smetana and Sorochintsi Fair by Modest Mussorgsky, the ballets The Red Poppy by Reinhold Gliere and Esmeralda by Cesare Pugni, and many other works. Several great composers collaborated with the Stalingrad Musical Company Theatre in the 1960s and 1970s: Vasily Solovyov-Sedoi, Vladimir Semyonov, Nikolai Minh, and Konstantin Listov. The company won a USSR National Award for its production of the operetta The Snow Mountaintops Tune by Georgy Tsabadze in 1972, and won the same award again a few years later for the play Girl Hero Wanted by Veniambin Basner. The company’s musicians manned Volgograd’s first symphony orchestra.
The company’s building was closed for renovation in the early 1990s, which took five years. The Volgograd Musical Theatre had to perform on other people’s stages in the meantime, but its creative process continued nonstop. The company staged new productions and played concerts. The company officially became a “musical” theatre in 1995. In 2003, it won a Volgograd City Award for its musical The Great Heroism of Stalingrad, timed to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Victory in the Battle of Stalingrad.
The Volgograd Musical Theatre has hosted the Interregional Christmas Festival of Young Musicians since the early 2000s. In 2001, it hosted the premiere of the Autumnal Volga opera festival, featuring opera soloists from Russia and the newly independent states. The first operetta festival named in honour of the People’s Artist of Russia Tamara Papina, an Honorary Citizen of the Hero City Volgograd, also took place at the Volgograd Musical Theatre in 2004. The Volgograd Musical Theatre has staged more than 400 shows in its lifetime, raising several generations of talented actors and musicians. The Volgograd Musical Theatre is currently led by head director Alexander Kutyavin, Merited Artist of Russia, and head conductor Vadim Venediktov, also a Merited Artist of Russia, who faithfully uphold the company’s high artistic standards.
The complex is made up of two principal installations rising above the platform: the hyperboloid shape of the panorama and the obelisk that symbolises a four-sided Russian bayonet. Additional installations can be found at the four corners of the platform: a banner draped around a bayonet with bas-relief, the star of the Hero City, the entrance pavilion from Sovetskaya Street and a pillar with inscribed orders from the Soviet commander-in-chief.
The complex was built in two stages. In July 1982, the “Defeat of the German Fascists at Stalingrad” panorama was unveiled. The 16x120 m (50x372 ft) painting was created at the end of 1940s by the Mitrofan Grekov Studio of War Artists and was initially stored at Mamayev Kurgan.
In May 1985, a museum was opened on the first floor of the Panorama. It consists of eight rooms exhibiting the photographs, documents and personal belongings of soldiers and officers, weapons (including the rifle of the famous sniper Vasily Zaitsev), and gifts to Stalingrad from foreign countries, including the bejewelled ceremonial sword specially forged and inscribed by command of George VI of the United Kingdom.
The museum complex includes the ruins of the Gerhardt Mill, which was built by the industrialist Gerhardt in 1908, which operated up until the war.
- Ulitsa Marshala Chuikova, 47
- from 150 rub.
- 7 (844) 255 00 83
- Ulitsa Sovetskaya, 39
- Ploschad Lenina station, Prospekt Lenina, Ulitsa Naumova
“Height 102” or Mamayev Kurgan was extremely important during the Battle of Stalingrad. Whoever controlled the hill controlled the city. Of the 200 days that the battle lasted, 135 were spent fighting for this hill. The Soviet army finally entrenched itself at Mamayev Kurgan on 25 January 1943.
Construction of the monument began in 1958 and lasted until 1967 under the guidance of sculptor Yevgeny Vuchetich. The route to the top takes in the Alley of Lombardy Poplars, Last Stand Square, the ruined walls that recreate scenes of the fighting, and Heroes Square that ends with a support wall. In the 1970s, the builders entombed a capsule in the wall with a message to future generations that cannot be opened until 9 May 2045.
- Mamayev Kurgan, Ulitsa Rokossovskogo
- entrance is free, tours - from 100 rub.
- +7 (844) 255 01 51 (10-10)
- Mamaev Kurgan
- Mamaev Kurgan, Ploschad Skorbi
The hollow statue of the Motherland is made with reinforced concrete walls, weighs around 8,000 tons and stands on a pedestal that goes 16 metres (50 ft) underground. The reinforced concrete frame is made up of separate cells connected by wire ropes that are placed inside the sculpture and weigh 60 tons each. Special holes were made in the sword to decrease the wind pressure. Maintenance on the statue is carried out by industrial climbers. The highest view point available to people excluding service personnel (for example, photographers) is the outstretched arm of the statue.
- Mamaev Kurgan
- Prospekt Lenina, 18