Welcome to the heroic city of Volgograd, one of the hosts of the FIFA World Cup 2018!

Built on the bank of the Volga River, the city is a major regional trade and industrial center. It changed names several times over the course of its history and is now known as the site of a savage battle that turned the tide of World War II.

The city was first mentioned in historical documents in 1589. Back then it was known as Tsaritsyn, named after Tsaritsa, a tributary of the Volga River.

By the beginning of the 20th century there were over 230 factories operating in Tsaritsyn; the previously small outpost has turned into a major industrial center.

In 1925 the city was renamed Stalingrad to commemorate Joseph Stalin's role in defending the city during the Russian Civil War. The Tsaritsa River was renamed Pionerka.

One of the most important WWII battles, which became a pivotal moment of the war, was fought in the city from July 1942 until February 1943.

1 / 4
The Battle of Stalingrad. Storming a house. November 1942 © RIA Novosti. Georgy Zelma

The Battle of Stalingrad is considered to be the largest land battle in history, lasting for 200 days. The Nazi German forces lost about 1.5 million soldiers (killed, captured and missing in action) in that battle, which is about a quarter of the total number of troops deployed on the Soviet-German front. The Red Army also sustained heavy losses, and the city was completely razed.

After the war Volgograd was rebuilt and repopulated anew while retaining its original layout. The city waterfront, however, was cleared of warehouses and industrial facilities, which previously formed a bulwark of sorts between the river and the residential areas.

Today, Volgograd, which received its contemporary name in 1961, is the largest city in the eastern Volga region, stretching along the Volga River for 90 kilometers.

Must see

The Motherland Calls monument and memorial complex at the Mamayev Kurgan, a site of fierce fighting during the Battle of Stalingrad. The city's main attraction can be seen from anywhere in Volgograd; the statue is 85 meters tall.

The monument was built during the 1960s under the supervision of Yevgeny Vuchetich. The complex contains an exhibition hall, a military memorial cemetary and the All Saints Church. The 200 steps that lead from the foot of the Mamayev Kurgan to the monument on its peak serve as a reference to the 200 days of the Battle of Stalingrad.

1 / 3
Flowers laid at the Mamayev Kurgan memorial complex during Victory Day celebrations © RIA Novosti. Kirill Braga

The Panorama Museum of Battle of Stalingrad, located in the city center on the bank of the Volga River, tells the story of that pivotal battle. The complex comprises the Panorama Museum, the ruins of a steam mill (the only building that remained somewhat intact after the battle in this part of the city) and an open-air display of military vehicles.

Panorama - the largest artistic painting in Russia (about 2,000 square meters) - tells the story of the final stage of the Battle of Stalingrad, namely Operation Koltso (Ring), which took place on January 26, 1943. Other exhibits available on display at the museum include weapons, maps, medals, clothes, photographs and various military accessories of that time.

1 / 5
The Panorama Museum of the Battle of Stalingrad in Volgograd © RIA Novosti. Alexey Filippov

One of the city's attractions is the Volgograd Metrotram - part light rail, part subway. While most of its stations are located on the surface, six of them were built underground.

A stroll through the city center may also be a pleasant experience, as there are many parks, monuments and sculptures surrounded by fine examples of Stalinist architecture.

1 / 2
Light rail train at Yelshanka station in Volgograd © RIA Novosti. Kirill Braga

If you have the time, you can also visit the Volga Hydroelectric Station. Launched in 1961, it is the largest hydroelectric plant in the European part of Russia. And in the other part of the city, at the beginning of the Volga-Don Canal, one can see a monument of Vladimir Lenin, which was declared as the largest monument built for a historical character in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records.

Volgograd Arena

Volgograd will host four 2018 World Cup group stage matches. Volgograd Arena, its newest stadium, is located at the foot of the Mamayev Kurgan memorial.

It is Russia’s first stadium built using cable rope structures. With an estimated capacity of 45,000, the arena will have an extended roof over the stands and a natural grass pitch with under-soil heating.

According to the architects, the facade of the arena will bring to mind a traditional fireworks display, while the arena itself will symbolize the history of the city, the Great Victory.

How to Reach Volgograd

By plane: each day at least several flights from Moscow arrive to the city's main airport. There are also regular flights between Volgograd, St. Petersburg and Ekaterinburg.

By train: the Volgograd-1 Railway station serves as a destination for trains from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Rostov-on-Don, Ekaterinburg and many other cities. However, this method of transportation can hardly be considered optimal, as it takes a lot of time. For example, a train from Moscow would take about 20 hours to reach the city.