A walk around Old town

The early 20th century saw explosive economic growth at Tsaritsyn. But then came the revolution of 1917 and the Civil war, which was followed by the new construction, this time of pre-war Stalingrad. Take a walk through the old streets to get a feel of this provincial town’s life in the first years of the last century and before World War II.

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Volgodonskaya Ulitsa (Volgodonskaya Street), a little island of Volgograd's Old town, begins with building No. 3, which is a part of the Central Post Office complex. This street dates back to the late 18th century, to the construction of Tsaritsyn's Preobrazhensky Forstad (which was the name given to city suburbs back then), and its original name was Anastasiyskaya Ulitsa (Anastasiyskaya Street). All of the streets in this suburb were given beautiful female names. The building lines of Preobrazhensky Forstad were done in 45° angles to the old Tsaritsyn Fortress. Before the revolution of 1917, Anastasiyskaya Ulitsa was home to small hotels and guesthouses, and there was lots of trading. In the 1920s, the street was given its contemporary name, Volgodonskaya. Legend says that the name embodies the great Russian dream of joining together two great Russian rivers, Volga and Don, which was later brought to life with the help of the Volga-Don Channel.

Today, the ensemble of Volgodonskaya Ulitsa buildings is considered a cultural heritage site. The buildings have a common feature in form of eclectic fancy brickwork with Art Nouveau elements.

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Proletkultskaya Ulitsa (Proletkultskaya Street) is the city's shortest, with only two houses – No. 3 and No. 5. House No. 5 is a former merchant mansion, but, unfortunately, no information about its owners and construction has been preserved. The street was given its contemporary name after the revolution of 1917, and before that it was called Yekaterininskaya Ulitsa (Yekaterininskaya Street), and was one of this suburb's principal thoroughfares. Back then, the street had many more buildings, but today they are attributed to other streets – Komsomolskaya Ulitsa (Komsomolskaya Street) and Ulitsa Mira (Mira Street), and Prospekt Lenina (Lenina Avenue).

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There is a dramatic story told about the a la Russe Repnikova Mansion, which was built in 1903. Historians believe that the house was a dowry gift from Tsaritsyn's wealthiest merchant Konstantin Voronin to his daughter Augusta. Another local merchant scion, Grigory Serebryakov, sought to marry Augusta, but she refused him in favour of a well-known local patron of the arts Alexander Repnikov. In retaliation, the rejected suitor had built a nailery right next to the mansion, and the noise from the plant had turned the mansion residents' lives into living hell. Quite possibly, this forced Augusta to get rid of the mansion by gifting it to her mother-in-law Yulia Repnikova. The mansion often hosted the prominent contemporaries of the era, including Prime Minister Pyotr Stolypin.

In the course of the Battle for Stalingrad, the mansion suffered significant damage, but it was quickly restored after the war, and once again became a site for the museum, which today is known as the Memorial and Historical Museum.

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Memorial Sign to the Residents of Tsaritsyn, Veterans of World War I, 1914-1918, designed by the prominent Volgograd sculptor Sergey Shcherbakov was erected in the courtyard of the Memorial and Historical Museum to mark the centennial anniversary of the beginning of the First World War. The bronze sculpture recalls the spirit of that time and is actually an Order of Saint George's Cross, the most common award given to the Russian soldiers. The cross is covered with a laurel wreath, a soldier's coat, and a rifle. On top of the cross sits the double-headed eagle, the symbol of Russian Empire.

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Next to the building of the Memorial and Historical Museum stands another monument, to Konstantin Nedorubov, a Cossack from Berezovskaya Cossack village of the Don Cossack Host, who fought both in the First and the Second World Wars. He was a full cavalier of the Saint George's Cross Order, and a Hero of the Soviet Union, one of seven such people in the history of USSR to own two sets of awards simultaneously. The monument was designed by sculptor Sergey Shcherbankov. The bronze sculpture of Konstantin Nedorubov completes the ensemble with the Memorial Sign to the Residents of Tsaritsyn, Veterans of World War I, 1914-1918.

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In the very center of the pocket park located at Privokzalnaya Ploschad (Privokzalnaya Square), is a fountain called "Barmaley," and designed by sculptor Alexander Burganov. On the raised platform stands a granite bowl, and in the center of the bowl are the figures of children, dancing around a crocodile – three girls and three boys. Across from them are eight frogs that feed the water.

This installation is modeled after the legendary fountain that stood on this square before World War II. Back then, it did not have an official name, which is why the city residents would come up with their own, calling it alternatively the "Crocodile," "Children's Khorovod" (Children's Circle Dance), and even "Barmaley" ("Boogeyman"). The original fountain was installed at Stalingrad in 1930, and its statuary was designed by Romuald Iodko. The fountain became widely known thanks to the wartime photo shots made after Luftwaffe air raid on August 23, 1942. At the photograph's forefront is the statuary with children, and in the background is the burning building of the Stalingrad Railway Station. The fountain was restored right after the military operations moved away from the city.

In the 1950s, the fountain was dismantled, when authorities began construction of the new railway station building, but it continued to serve as one of the symbols of the unbroken city. A copy of the pre-war sculpture, called "Children's Khorovod," was installed at the Privokzalnaya Ploschad, not far from the historical location, in August of 2013.

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The fire tower at Komsomolsky Garden was erected in 1897 to replace the previous wooden, delapidated and low building that was located in place of contemporary Volgograd State Medical University. The new, 45-metre-high (148-foot-tall) stone fire tower of Tsaritsyn gave an excellent view of the whole city. In the 1930s, the look-out tower was dismantled, but the building itself was preserved. In the 1990s, after a big fire, the building was restored, and the fire tower was built from scratch, using the old blueprints and pre-revolutionary photographs.

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This bunker was built in 1941-42 by the workers of the subway construction company Metrostroy – at that time, near-front zones of City Defence Committees were created in 60 Soviet cities. Originally, the bunker housed the local headquarters of air defence and the central signal office. After the German army invaded the city, the bunker was turned over to the Stalingrad city authorities and became their command point. On September 14, 1942, the Germany military approached the Komsomolsky Garden, where the bunker is located, and the City Defence Committee was relocated to another city district. Today, the bunker's above-ground part is represented by two structures, the entrance and the ventilation shaft. The building's top level was restored, using the wartime blueprints. Restoration continues on the lower level of the building. In 2009, a memorial plaque was hung on the bunker, depicting Alexander Chuyanov, the head of the local Communist Party Committee, and the member of Stalingrad City Defence Committee.

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The monument to Nikolai Gogol is the city's very first, and it is located at the Komsomolsky Garden, behind the building of the New Experimental Theatre. Gogol's portrait sculpture was unveiled at Tsaritsyn in 1910, in honour of the great writer's centennial anniversary. Originally it stood in place of the city's contemporary pylon with the Eternal flame. This portrait sculpture is one of city's four monuments that survived the Battle of Stalingrad. On its far side, one can see the damage from bullets and shell splinters. Other monuments that survived are the monument to KGB founder Felix Dzerzhinsky, which stands on the Felix Dzerzhinsky Square, the monument to pilot Viktor Kholzunov next to the Riverside Station, and the monument at the mass grave of Yakov Yerman and other Civil war heroes at the Komsomolsky Garden.

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The monument at the mass grave of the prominent revolutionary Yakov Yerman and other soldiers of the Civil War was unveiled in 1925, on the eighth anniversary of October Revolution. The monument's designer, Stalingrad artist Nikolay Lyubimov, made the gravestone out of cobblestones cemented together to signify proletariat's cohesion in times of the class wars.

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The monument was unveiled in 2013, in honour of the city tram's centennial anniversary. This is an actual tram car, manufactured in 1932, an exact copy of the trams that used to transport the residents of Stalingrad in the 1930s. It was purchased in Saint Petersburg, where it was actually operated all through these years. Before it was sent to Volgograd, the tram car's interior was restored in accordance with old photographs. Before the revolution of 1917, Tsaritsyn had three tram routes that connected the city, spread out along the Volga River. The monument is located at Komsomolsky Garden, next to the former Pobeda movie theater. During municipal celebrations, the tram is opened to the public, and visitors can get in, sit on the original benches, and see how trams were driven before the war.

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The contemporary building of Volgograd-Glavny Railway Station was constructed after World War II. The first railway station at Tsaritsyn was built in 1868. The old stone building stood out against the backdrop of other, mostly wooden structures. It was beautiful and very massive for that age. On the station's gable hung the giant letters, the acronym for Gryaze-Tsaritsyn Railroad. Later, the railway station was given the name of Stalingrad-Glavny, and along with different annexes it performed its functions all the way to the Battle of Stalingrad.

The building's facades are clad in granite and Inkerman limestone, and decorated with statuaries and monumental base reliefs produced by Moisey and Nadezhda Pavlovsky and Vasily Bezrukov. Inside, the building's walls are clad in marble. The ceilings are decorated with stucco cornices, caissons, and rosaces, as well as some paintings.