Around the Square of Fallen Fighters

Nikolay Galkin/TASS
The Square of Fallen Fighters (ploschad Pavshikh Bortsov) is the very heart of the city, and one of the few places with a pre-war history. In the nineteenth century, Alexandrovskaya Square (as it was then called) was located outside the Tsaritsyn fortress. Tsaritsyn being the city's first name and was used for trade. It was given the name of Fallen Fighters in 1920, after 55 Red Army soldiers who died fighting against General Vrangel’s army were buried here. In 1942, during the Battle of Stalingrad, tens of thousands of soviet soldiers died defending this relatively small area.

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.