Volgograd (Russian: Волгогра́д vuhl-gah-GRAHD) is a large city along the west bank of the Volga River in Southern Russia. It used to be known as Stalingrad, a name which the city is still known as on several war-related dates each year (on account of local legislation). It was the scene of one of the most important and bloodiest battles of the Second World War.
Volgograd is near the Volga's estuary into the Caspian sea. The city is more than 60 km long, on the right bank. It used to be divided by gullies heading to the Volga. The majority of these have been filled, but some paths have substantial drops.
The southern part of the city includes the start of the Caspian Depression, and so is a large plain, broken only by the Ergeni mountain range. The construction of railroads between the Ergeni and the Volga led to the creation of swampland in the area. Consequently, chunks of southern regions are full of reeds.
HistoryThe changing names of Volgograd reflect the changing historical eras. The fort Tsaritsyn was founded on site in 1589 Volga crossing on many trade routes. Between 1925 and 1961, the city was called Stalingrad. After the siege, it become a Hero City.
The ground of Volgograd is full of the remains of fallen soldiers, while its air is full of factory smoke and exhaust.
The proximity of Tsaritsyn to Cossack lands has, however, resulted in some cultural influence. A memorial to the Cossacks was installed some time ago to a mixed reception; the Cossack influence isn't as pronounced as in other places, such as Krasnodar Krai.
Finally, one more cultural peculiarity of the city is the number of migrants from the Caucasus.
Many youths are considering moving to Moscow, due to a perceived lack of economic prospects in the region.
Many travelers to Volgograd note the unsuitability of the city's housing to its climate. Summer in the city is unbelievably hot, and in times of rain the streets run with dirt from parked cars. After it dries, it becomes a dust that can turn into a dust storm given enough wind. During the Soviet era and its period of associated development, these concerns were raised, and officials planned a systematic "airing out" of the streets by Volga breezes, as well as massive environmental development to halt the spread of dust. Gradually, this system is falling into decline, the "green ring" around Volgograd is being ruined, and forests are being cut down for housing. Therefore, between the snowfall and appearance of leaves (in the first half of April), the city is very dusty. From the end of May, it can also be very hot. Comfortable weather ceases around the end of August, but extreme temperatures are less assured starting mid-October. From sometime around November to March, pleasant weather for a stroll becomes altogether rare in Volgograd.
Volgograd International AirportDespite its name, it mostly has domestic routes, Moscow and Saint Petersburg being the two major destinations. International connections are available to Munich and Yerevan and operated by RusLine.
By trainVolgograd is a major railway junction with good connections from Moscow (20 hr), Saint Petersburg (34 hr) and most other large cities in western Russia, tickets cost between for a second class sleeper. In the other direction, trains come all the way from Irkutsk (92 hr) in Siberia. International connections are limited but several central Asian cities such as Bishkek (77 hr), Baku (30 hr) Dushanbe (72 hr), Tashkent (60 hr) as well as the two major cities in Kazakstan, Almaty (68 hr) and Astana (52 hr) have departures at least once a week. Directs routes from European countries is scarce, the usual route involves a change of trains in Moscow however there is a few trains from Brest (45 hr) via Minsk (40 hr), Kiev (29 hr) and from Sofia (61 hr) via Bucharest (49 hr) and Chişinău (36 hr) that does not require a change. These trains usually departs 3-4 times a week.
By carEuropean route E40, the longest European route connecting Calais, France with Ridder, Kazakhstan, passes through Volgograd.
A trip from Moscow by car is a bit under 1,000 km and takes around 13 hours with short stops. The roads are generally in good condition, although roadworks are plenty.
By boatThe city stands at the east end of the Volga-Don Canal, opened in 1952 to link the two great rivers of Southern Russia. River cruises down the Volga operate during the summer months (early May to late September). Dozens of boats operated by different companies run from Moscow to Astrakhan passing by Volgograd. One way or return cruises may be reserved to/from practically any city along the Volga. Turflot and Infoflot offer tours.
Volgograd's public transport system includes a light rail service known as the Volgograd Metrotram.
Volgograd is divided into 8 regions. From north to south:
- Traktorozavodsky and Krasnooktyabrsky Regions – The furthest north and most industrial regions of the city. There, you can find factories, notably: the Volgograd Tractor Factory (which kept working during the Siege of Stalingrad, despite the vast number of nearby Germans), "Red October," and "Barricades."
- Dzerzhinskiy District – The airport is here.
- Central District — A historic center of the city.
- Voroshilovskiy District — Another historic center of the city. There is a children's railway here.
- Sovetsky, Kirovsky, and Krasnoarmeysky Districts — The Volga-Don canal begins and has its first locks in the Krasnoarmeysky District.
The city received its contemporary urban planning after the war, and so lacks the alleys of the old city. If you wish, you can find hidden corners of the past. However, when navigating the city, it is best to keep in mind the four parallels:
- Nulevaya (Zeroth) - Goes almost completely through the Volga, a little past the new stadium.
- Pervaya (First) - Goes from the hydroelectric plant in the very north, through the center of the city, where it is called Lenin Avenue and acts as the central street of the city; through the infamous tunnel to Tulak, which was under construction for 20 years; to a junction with the Vtoraya parallel, near the state university.
- Vtoraya (Second) - From a junction with the Pervaya parallel near the tractor factory, to the south. This parallel goes through every region of the city.
- Tret'aya (Third) - In the north, becomes the route to Saratov, goes around the city to the west, and connects with the route to Rostov-on-Don. It is planned to expand this to the southern areas of the city.
Google Map Public Transportation directions cannot be trusted for Volgograd. It will often reference obscure, or non-existent, Marshrutka schedules. To travel between the city center and Mamayev Kurgan, you can take buses 12, 35, or 95. All of them run frequently throughout the day. During peak hours (08:00-20:00) you will not wait more than 10 minutes for one of those buses (October 2018).
If you wish to reach the airport by public transportation, catch bus 6 in the city center at the Komsomolskaya stop (in front of Central Market). Bus ride to airport from the city center takes approximately one hour.
Mamayev KurganThe site of one of the 20th century's most important battles: Battle of Stalingrad. Huge memorial The Motherland Calls (the largest non'religious statue in the world) is on top of a hill overlooking Volgograd and the Volga River. The name derives from the hill's supposed status as the grave of Mamai, a famous Tatar Khan and general (kurgan is a Tatar word meaning burial mound).
The Panorama museumaddress: ul. ChuikovaThe Panorama museum, which is alongside the Volga river, contains artifacts from World War II. These include a rifle of the famous sniper Vasily Zaytsev. A panoramic painting of the battlefield from the location of the monument "Mamayev Kurgan", can also be found.
Pavlov's HouseOne of the focal points of the Battle of Stalingrad, a strategic apartment building that a small group of Soviet soldiers fortified and held for two months against a relentless German offensive before being relieved by counterattacking Soviet forces. While the building, rebuilt after the war, is in active use as a residence and not open to the public, a monument made up of bricks retrieved from the battleground is attached to the outside of the building and publicly accessible.
- Watch football at Volgograd Arena, opened in 2018 to host matches of the FIFA World Cup. The home team are FC Rotor, who play in the Russian National League, the second tier of Russian football. The Arena replaces the Central Stadium on this site; its capacity will be 35,000. It's on the west bank of the Volga, 3 km north of Volgograd-1 main railway station, take metro to Tspkio.
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