Volgograd region: heroism between the Volga and the Don

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Main facts:

  • Administrative center: Volgograd

  • Federal District: South Russia

  • Language(s): Russian

  • Population: 2,507,488

  • Timezone: UTC+3

  • Main religion: Orthodoxy

Top 10 attractions:

Sights map of Volgograd region

Travel around Volgograd region

There are places with a rich history of thousands of years. There are places where nothing remarkable has happened for hundreds of years. There are places in which one event once cardinally changed everything ... and there are places where it was all at once, and one of such places in Russia is the Volgograd region.

This region has a very ancient history: for thousands of years BC primitive tribes lived here, the remains of which are still found throughout the region. Stone, bronze, iron age in the history of mankind swept here as one moment, leaving no trace on the body of the area. Sarmatians, Huns, Khazars, Cumans - great folks and states of the past rolled in moved through local steppes here, crossing over the turbulent river channels and changing the life of civilizations. Dozens of generations succeeded each other, nomadic and sedentary peoples came and go - and the Volga river still carried its waters to the south, to the shores of the Caspian Sea. Its movement here is like the time, which slowly and inexorably flows through the fingers like the sand. It leaves in the soul a light fleur of eternity and a feeling of incredible freedom, like the free winds that fly over the vast expanses of the local steppes.

All life in these places proceeded in a dimensional routine associated with agriculture. No matter who controlled these places - the Khazars, the Golden Horde or free Cossacks - the life of local residents was invariably associated with the cultivation of fields and orchards, harvesting and selling it in the markets of trade centers on the banks of the Volga. In addition, in the wide floodplain of the Volga and Akhtuba rivers, a lot of fish can be found, which local fishermen caught and sold in huge volumes. The most significant contribution to the prosperity of the local population was made by the Golden Horde under Khan Uzbek, when the new capital of the state, Sarai-Berke, was built on the high slopes of the Akhtuba river. This huge city for the XIV century, which was the center of commerce and power for thousands of kilometers in the area, was completely destroyed during the internecine wars and the invasion of Timur's troops. Today here only the ruins remain - only the hilly relief of the once towering buildings, scorched by the hot sun. But in those days, trade flourished here, including thanks to the salt from Lake Elton, which was sent with the merchants to distant lands. Today, salt in the lake is not mined, but you can freely enjoy its inspiring scenery and quiet water surface.

Due to the fact that the nature of the region is almost entirely composed of steppes, semi-deserts and hilly terrains, it was very difficult to defend against raids and enemy attacks. During the day, horse cavalry could cover a distance of 80-100 km, and therefore most of the residents tried to settle near the Volga. It was a double win: on the one hand, it was along the Volga that merchants caravans sailed between the northern principalities and the southern khanates, with which it was possible to trade profitably, and on the other hand, it was the river that made it possible to survive in the event of attacks by robbers or arid bad weather. So it was in those days when, after the collapse of the Golden Horde, Russians came to these lands. Capturing the Kazan and Astrakhan khanates in turn, the Russians laid a new fortress city on the Volga to revive and establish trade relations with eastern countries. However, it quickly became clear that without a good defense it would not be possible to revive such a long river path - the territories between the Volga and the Don were extremely dangerous because of the raids of the nomads. As a result, by order of Ivan the Terrible in 1590 along the banks of the Volga, from Kazan to Astrakhan, several fortress settlements were built that protected the merchant's route to the Caspian Sea. So, Samara, Saratov and the city of Tsaritsyn were founded, which later became a centers of the regions.

The peculiarity of the latter was that the narrowest isthmus between the Don and Volga rivers was located next to it, due to which Don–Volga Portage appeared here in the 1st millennium BC. Rare locals and burlaks here were engaged in manually hauling the river vessels over land at a distance of about 70 km, thanks to which merchants from the Black and Mediterranean Sea could get to the eastern countries from the Caspian Sea and also go north to the rich Russian principalities. Attempts to build a water channel here, which would directly connect the rivers, have repeatedly failed due to the incredible technical complexity, lack of necessary tools and lack of financial resources. Even before the local Cossacks were subordinated, the Ottoman Empire and then Peter the Great tried to build a shipping canal, but both attempts failed. Subsequently, between the rivers was built one of the first railways in Russia, which greatly simplified life on the transfer, but also did not help to connect them by water. At the end of the 19th century, a railway from Moscow was built to Tsaritsyn, which, together with the railroad to Rostov-on-Don, became a serious competitor to the inefficient portage. As a result, the construction of the canal was postponed for another hundred years and took place only after the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945, when, after the defeat of the German troops at Stalingrad, more than 100,000 prisoners of war and about 600,000 Soviet citizens were harnessed to the building of the Volga-Don Canal. After 5 years of shock work, in June 1952 the canal was finally opened, and from that moment there is a full-fledged water communication between the Volga and the Don rivers. The Volga-Don Canal has become a real engineering marvel that can be admired today, as well as the tallest statue of Lenin in the world, which is located near the first gateway at the beginning of the Canal.

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In the XIX century, most of the region was part of the Don Host Oblast, which was a special district in the Russian Empire and was ruled by Don Cossacks. Subsequently, when the territory was divided, many Cossacks moved to the Rostov and Astrakhan regions, and those who remained in the Volgograd region mixed with the Russian immigrants, who sought into these lands for rich arable land, numerous earning opportunities, freedom from state taxes and serfdom. So in the 17th century a huge number of runaway peasants and workers formed in these lands, who did not want to put up with the oppression of the tsarist regime and therefore willingly joined the popular uprisings. The famous Stenka Razin repeatedly engaged in robbery in these lands, and together with the Astrakhan peasants did many problems for the Moscow state. In 1670, Stenka Razin besieged and captured the city of Tsaritsyn, however, he did not stay long here and was knocked out of it by the Russian troops. Subsequently, Stenka Razin was caught by the Don Cossacks and extradited for execution, and the city survived with many more trials then. The Bulavin Rebellion in 1708, the massive Nogai and Circassian raids in 1717, the Pugachev's Rebellion in 1773 and the repeated fires that destroyed the whole city ... Tsaritsyn experienced many problems before becoming a strong and prosperous city.

In 1765, when German colonists-settlers patronized by Catherine II come here to the Volga, they created the small settlement of Sarepta and founded several factories, from which many famous manufactories grew. In those times this settlement was located more than 30 km from Tsaritsyn, and now it is included in the city borders of Volgograd. Despite the massive destruction during the war of 1941-1945, most of the buildings in the village survived, and today you can admire the well-preserved German buildings in the museum-reserve "Old Sarepta". Tsaritsyn itself during the 19th century experienced rapid growth and growth associated with the development of metallurgical and woodworking enterprises. For a short period of 50 years, the city has grown several times, the number of workers in enterprises has increased by hundreds. In the city began to build universities and schools, hospitals and cultural institutions. In just a few decades, Tsaritsyn has turned from a small fortress on the banks of the Volga into one of the largest and most prosperous cities in the country. The largest factories in Russian Empire and the USSR ("The Barricades" artillery plant, the shipyard, the "Krasny Oktyabr" steel plant) were functioned here. After the overthrow of the Tsar and the creation of the USSR, the city of Tsaritsyn was renamed to Stalingrad and continued its history as the center of the heavy industry of the new country. This continued until 1942, when World War II reached the shores of the Volga.

Volgograd region is a place where rich history goes back thousands of years. Volgograd region is a region where for hundreds of years nothing happened that radically changed the traditional way of life here. It was in 1942 that an event occurred here that divided the whole life of the region into “before” and “after”. It was the famous Battle of Stalingrad, which created not only a "radical change" in the World War II, but also forever inscribed the region in the history of world military glory. When in the summer of 1942 German troops moved through the Rostov-on-Don region to the Volga, they first of all sought to take Stalingrad and block Soviet access to the Caucasus, and with it access to the Caucasus oil factories. As a result, they threw huge forces at the seizure of territories between the Volga and the Don, and in the place of the Don river bend near the city of Kalach, the first significant battle of the Soviet and German troops took place, during which the Wehrmacht was unabled to quickly captured the territory. This was followed by half a year of fierce fighting, incredible heroism of the Soviet troops and unprecedented bloodshed, which led to the loss of more than 1,200,000 Soviet soldiers and citizens, as well as more than 1,500,000 people from the enemies. When, during "Uranus" operation, Soviet troops united in the Kalach area (now a monument was erected there), the German forces began their defeat in Stalingrad and the liberation of the city, followed by the long-awaited offensive and the return of territories. The great feat of the Soviet troops and citizens in Stalingrad was inscribed in world history as one of its most significant events, inspired Soviet troops to further victories and showed the whole world that "Russians will never surrender".

The Battle of Stalingrad radically rebuilt the lives of the local population. From now on, the city of Stalingrad (now Volgograd) will bear the imprint of military valor, and all cultural and folk heritage will be rebuilt in the spirit of victory over fascism. After more than 70 years, the whole city literally lives with its historical feat: almost all events before it were forgotten, there was practically no memory and sights in which the history of the region before the Great Patriotic War would be revealed (except for the exposition in the historical museum). Today, everything in the city tells about his military feat, and this is largely deserved. The magnificent interactive museum-reserve "Battle of Stalingrad" will tell about every detail of that terrible battle, in the hall of military glory on Mamayev Kurgan, the Eternal Flame burns in memory of hundreds of thousands who died here, and the famous sculpture "The Motherland Calls" reflects the spirit of patriotism and pride about Russian Motherland. Especially it can be strongly felt during the May 9 holidays, when the whole city is decorated with St. George ribbons, people walk around the avenues in full dress and with memorable carnations, and "The Motherland Calls" sculpture is highlighted in the colors of the Soviet flag. At this time it is best to visit the city!

The historical and cultural heritage of Volgograd can not be limited to military feat. Although this is undoubtedly the most significant event in the history of the region, it cannot fill in all the beauty of the city and its surroundings. I highly recommend to anyone who wants to visit Volgograd, be sure to feel the other significant places for the region: the Volga Hydroelectric Station and the Volga-Don Canal, the remains of the ancient capital of the Golden Horde </