Friday, 9 November 2012



Volgograd, formerly called Tsaritsyn; 1589–1925 and Stalingrad; 1925–1961 is an important industrial city and the administrative center of Volgograd Oblast, Russia. It is 80-kilometre (50 mi) long, north to south, situated on the western bank of the Volga River. 

The city became famous for its resistance, extensive damage, and death toll during the Battle of Stalingrad in World War II.

Although the city may have originated in 1555, documented evidence of "Tsaritsyn" located at the confluence of the Tsaritsa and Volga Rivers dates only from 1589. The fortress Sary Su (a local Tatar language name meaning: yellow water/river), was established to defend the unstable southern border of the country. It soon became the nucleus of a trading settlement. Cossack rebels captured it twice: under Stepan Razin in the rebellion of 1670 and under Yemelyan Pugachev in 1774. Tsaritsyn became an important river port and commercial center in the 19th century.

The original name of the city, Tsaritsyn, first appears in the record of the English explorer Barry in 1579, though he did not refer to the city, but to the island on the Volga. The origin of the name is usually traced back to the Turkic "Sary-Su" (yellow water) or "Sary-Sin" (yellow island). A royal charter records the date of the official founding of the city on July 2, 1589, by naming the fortress of Tsaritsyn. The fortress was located slightly above the mouth of the Tsaritsa River on the right bank.

In 1607 the fortress garrison rebelled against the tsar's troops for six months. In 1608 the city had its first stone church, St. John the Baptist.

At the beginning of the 17th century, the garrison consisted of 350-400 people.

In 1670 troops of Stepan Razin captured the fortress; they left after a month. In 1708 the insurgent Cossack Kondraty Bulavin held the fortress. In 1717, Bulavin (who died in July 1708) was sacked by the Crimean Tatars and Kuban. Later, in 1774, Yemelyan Pugachev unsuccessfully attempted to storm the city.

In 1691, Tsaritsyn established customs. In 1708, Tsaritsyn was assigned to Kazan Governorate; in 1719, to Astrakhan Governorate; According to the census in 1720, the city's population was 408 people. In 1773, the city became the provincial and district town. From 1779, it belonged to Saratov Viceroyalty. In 1780, the city was under Saratov Governorate.

The population expanded rapidly during the 19th century, increasing from fewer than 3,000 people in 1807 to about 84,000 in 1900.

The first railroad came to the town in 1862. The first theater opened in 1872, the first cinema in 1907. In 1913, Tsaritsin's first tram-line was built, and the city's first electric lights were installed in the city center.

During the Russian Civil War Tsaritsyn came under Soviet control from November 1917. In 1918, Tsaritsyn was besieged by White troops under Ataman Krasnov. Three assaults by White troops were repulsed. However, in June 1919 Tsaritsyn was captured by White forces of General Denikin, which left the city in January 1920. This was known as the Battle for Tsaritsyn.

The city was renamed Stalingrad after Joseph Stalin on April 10, 1925. This was officially to recognize the city's and Stalin's role in its defense against the Whites in 1918-1920.

In 1931, in the city including the German settlement-colony Old Sarepta (founded in 1765), subsequently became the largest area of the city — Krasnoarmeysky. The first institute was opened in 1930, a year later was opened and the Pedagogical Institute.

Under Stalin, the city became a center of heavy industry and trans shipment by rail and river, and as a result was attacked by Axis forces during World War II. In 1942, the city became the site of one of the pivotal battles of the war. The Battle of Stalingrad saw perhaps the greatest casualty figures of any single battle in the history of warfare (estimates are between 1,250,000 and 1,798,619). The battle began on August 23, 1942, and on the same day, the city suffered heavy aerial bombardment that reduced most of it to rubble. By September, the fighting reached the city centre. The fighting was of unprecedented intensity; the central railway station of the city changed hands thirteen times, and the Mamayev Kurgan (one of the highest points of the city) was captured and recaptured eight times. By early November, the German forces controlled 90 percent of the city and had cornered the Soviets into two narrow pockets, but they were unable to eliminate the last pockets of Soviet resistance in time. On November 19, Soviet forces launched a massive counterattack. This led to the encirclement of the German Sixth Army and other Axis units. On January 31, 1943 the Sixth Army's commander, Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus surrendered, and on February 2, with the elimination of straggling German troops, the Battle of Stalingrad was over.

Stalingrad was awarded the title Hero City for its heroism in 1945, and Great Britain's King George VI awarded the citizens of Stalingrad the jeweled "Sword of Stalingrad" in recognition of their bravery. Stalingrad was destroyed during the war, and in 1946, the construction of the modern city started. It included the memorial complex on the Mamayev Kurgan. A number of cities around the world (especially those which had suffered similar wartime devastation) established sister/friendship/twinning links (see list below) in the spirit of solidarity or reconciliation. One of the first "sister city" projects was that established between Stalingrad and England's Coventry during World War II (as both suffered extensive devastation from aerial bombardment).

In 1961, the name was changed from Stalingrad to Volgograd ("Volga City") as part of Nikita Khrushchev's programme of de-Stalinization. This was and remains somewhat contentious, given the fame of the name "Stalingrad" and its importance in wartime remembrance. There were serious proposals to revert the name to "Stalingrad" during Konstantin Chernenko's brief administration in 1985. There remains a strong degree of local support for a reversion but intermittent proposals have yet to be accepted by the Russian government.

On May 21, 2007, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation obtained an important success in the Volgograd mayoral election. Communist candidate Roman Grebennikov was elected as mayor with 32.47% of the vote. Grebennikov is Russia's youngest mayor of a federal subject administrative centre.

A memorial complex commemorating the battle of Stalingrad, dominated by an immense allegorical sculpture of Mother Russia, was erected on the Mamayev Kurgan, the hill that saw some of the most intense fighting during the battle.Today, Volgograd is a major tourist centre. It is a monument-city and a hero-city, visited by hundreds of thousands of Russian and foreign tourists. They are attracted by Volgagrad s nature, mineral springs, spas and rest-houses, along with the rich and glorious history. There are many museums and monuments, with a vibrant culture and architecture. 

The city has a well developed transportation network: buses, trolleybuses, trams, minibuses and taxi, and also Russia's only underground tram system. There are a large number of hotels in Volgagrad, with plans to build more to satisfy the needs of tourists.

                                                        Volgograd’s Top 5:
  1.  Volgograd State Panoramic Museum Started life as the Museum of Defense of Tsaritsyn named after Stalin, and it was opened on the 3rd of January of 1937. In 1948 it was renamed in Museum of Defense of Tsaritsyn-Stalingrad, in 1963-1982 it became Volgograd State Defense Museum, and in 31 of May of 1982 it was renamed the Volgograd State Panoramic Museum “Stalingrad Battle”. It contains the artistic panorama “The Defeat of Fascists Armies at Stalingrad” - the biggest pictorial canvas in Russia, at 16m x 120 m.  The Panorama Museum sited on the Volga contains artifacts from World War II. These include arms and machines from the war and a rifle of the famous sniper Vasily Zaytsev (popularized in Western media in the film Enemy at the Gates) is also on display. 
  2. Pavlov House. a wartime relic showcasing the life history of this hero city during WW2. It's an open air museum just beside the panorama museum without admission fee. You may not enter the building as you could only go around it, but you can get close enough to see the scars by bullets, grenades, bombs and etc. It is so famous because it is one of the few complete pre-war structure to actually survive the Stalingrad battle ( the whole of Stalingrad was totally ruined flat into rubble from the war). Check out the warplanes and tanks displayed in rows just beside the Pavlov house too!
  3. The Volgograd synagogue Built in 1911
  4. The Central Embankment (named after the 62nd Army) was built after the Great Patriotic War. You can find here statues and memorials from different historical periods starting from the time when Volgograd was named Tsaritsin till nowadays.
  5. The Motherland Calls , also called Mother Motherland, Mother Motherland Is Calling, simply The Motherland, or The Mamayev Monument, is a statue in Mamayev Kurgan in Volgograd, commemorating the Battle of Stalingrad. It was designed by sculptor Yevgeny Vuchetich and structural engineer Nikolai Nikitin. Declared the largest statue in the world in 1967, it is the last non-religious statue to be declared the largest; every record holder since has been a Buddhism-related sculpture. Compared to the later higher statues, The Motherland Calls is significantly more complex from an engineering point of view, due to its characteristic posture with a sword raised high in the right hand and the left hand extended in a calling gesture.

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