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Volgograd is largest city as well as capital of Volgograd
Oblast. It is found on the banks of Volga River and its name in Russian
means "Volga City". However Volgograd is most famous under its former name
of Stalingrad. During World War II Battle of Stalingrad became the turning
point of defeat of Nazi Germany.
Mamayev Kurgan or "tumulus of Mamai" holds a dominant
height overlooking Volgograd. It is situated on the right bank of the
Volga River. This small piece of land became the key to securing the
city during bloody battle of Stalingrad.
Mamayev Kurgan is a Tartar (Mongol tribe) burial mound at
a height of 102 meters. This location in general has many legends and
stories. Some are based on facts, others are hard to prove. It is known
that Sarmatians regarded this area as sacred and carried out religious
rituals here as early as 5th century BC. Some even believe that military
expedition of Persian king Darius against these nomadic tribe might have
reached area of modern day Volgograd. Another legend claim that after
the battle at Kulikovo Field in 1380 Tatar general Mamai fled the
victorious Russian army to banks of Volga. Here he was killed by a
contender to a throne of the Golden Horde and here Mamai was supposedly
buried. Although we know now that it is not true "kurgan" or tumulus
belonged to some unknown prominent Tatar leader.
During World War II Mamayev Kurgan became the central
prize in Stalingrad Battle. Due to its dominant position in the city
Germans threw thousands of troops and tanks to capture it. Soviet Red
Army defended the hill for over 200 days. Over 35,000 of Soviet soldiers
were buried at the conclusion of the grandiose battle. However until
1959 the mound was pitted with bombs and mines. From 1959 to October
1967 Mamayev Kurgan was turned into monument "Heroes of the Battle of
Stalingrad" dedicated to soldiers who fell here. It encompasses a total
area of 26 hectares.
Church of All Saints is a Russian Orthodox
church- monument that was recently constructed and dedicated
to fallen Orthodox soldiers who died on Mamayev Kurgan.
Church of All Saints is located just two
hundred meters from the monument "The Motherland Calls!" and mass
graves of thousands of soldiers that fell here in 1942- 43.
At the time of construction of Mamayev Kurgan War memorial USSR was
officially an atheist country so no religious buildings were
allowed, however after the collapse of the Communist regime and its
main ideology it became clear that many Russians want to commemorate
the memory of their fallen soldiers in Christian churches as well as
non- religious ones. The idea for construction of the Church of All
Saints was blessed by Patriarch Alexy in 1995, but construction
began years later. The
foundation for the church was laid down in May 2002 near
mass graves of fallen Soviet soldiers. Funds for its construction were gathered
largely from private donations.
Church of All Saints was completed in 2005.
Its five domes reach a
height of 38 meters and visible from most parts of
Volgograd. In a traditional Orthodox architecture five domes
represent Jesus Christ and four authors of Gospels: Matthew,
Mark, Luke and John. Its helmet domes were build from
titanium alloys and brought here from Ural mountains and its shape was
after helmets of medieval Russian warriors.
Panorama Museum was completed in 1985 to
celebrate 40th anniversary of victory in World War II. It
was designed by chief architect Vadim Maslyaev and designer
E.V. Temnikov. The first level consists of a museum
dedicated to Battle of Stalingrad. The second level is taken
by a huge round canvas depicting the military actions. One
of the most distinct features of Panorama Museum is
Gerharts's Mill. It is the only original part of ruined
Volgograd that was preserved after the battle's end.
Gerhart's Mill was constructed in 1904 for
Alexander Gerhart, Russian- German businessmen. He was born on 23rd
of January 1864 in a German Straub colony. He joined his grandfather
in a family business "A.D. Gerhardt und Neffen" that later was
transformed into "Gebruder Gerhard". After Russian Revolution of
1917 he lost all his possessions including his Volgograd buildings.
Alexander Gerhart was arrested on 1st January, 1933 by GPU, Soviet
Secret Police. He died after tortures on April 21st the same year.
Gerhart's Mill was simple industrial building that didn't stand out
from the rest of Stalingrad- Volgograd. It became famous during
World War II. At the conclusion of military actions in the city Most
of the city was left in ruins. Soviet government order massive
reconstruction project that rebuilt the whole city. However Gerhart's Mill became the only part of the city that was preserved
after the conclusion of the war. Some people mistakenly call it
Pavlov's House although it was re- constructed after
the war. Owner's name "Gerhart" is still visible at the top of the
Pavlov's House is probably one of the most famous
buildings in Volgograd. In Russian it is a symbol of heroism and
bravery while the rest of the World probably recognizes by one of
scenarios in a computer game Call of Duty. Occasionally
Gerharts Mill is mistakenly called
Pavlov's House due to overall similarity. However Pavlov's House was
later reconstructed, while Gerharts Mill was left in its original
state of disrepair following heavy fighting during Battle of
Stalingrad. Click on the link above to get more history on the siege
of the Pavlov's House.