TOWARDS THE SOUTH: OLD SAREPTA, THE VOLGA-DON SHIPPING CANAL
Duration: about 2 hours (excluding travel time)
You can reach Old Sarepta from the downtown by Marshrutka No. 15 (from the Central Railway Station) or 93, 93A, etc., following the direction of “Jubilejnyj”. Then you need to get to the bus stop Prospekt Geroyev Stalingrada (The Stalingrad Heroes Prospect), the last stop before the bridge over the Volga-Don Canal. The trip will take approximately one hour. From there you need to go diagonally to the right between houses and then you will be on a quiet little square surrounded by small houses.
The Old Sarepta Museum Reserve (Staraya Sarepta) is a fascinating historic and cultural sightseeing of Volgograd. It was established in 1989 based on the surviving historic settlement Sarepta founded in 1765 by migrants from Europe – religious brotherhood of herrnhuters. The main goal of the settlers (among them were Germans, Czechs, Danes, Swiss, Dutch) was a missionary. The members of the community were also engaged in farming. Here many sciences prospered especially natural ones (primarily medicine) and philology. Industry in Old Sarepta was presented by tannery, pottery and brick works, paper and linen factories. There prospered also a candle and soap production, a brewery, a mill, a tobacco factory and distillery, a bakery and a pastry shop, plenty of shops, etc. Chinese mustard produced up to our days was really famous.
Only a small part of the buildings of Old Sarepta survived to this day. The museum complex consists of 27 buildings. The most interesting buildings are: the House of unmarried sisters and single brothers with museum exhibits, plans and historic photographs of the settlement; Church, where at 10.00 a.m. on Sunday services are held in Russian and German with an organ presented by residents of the German city of Cottbus in 2005; the house of the druggist with interiors of the pharmacy hall and the living rooms of that time (the elements of the interiors vary depending on seasons, winter is presented with Christmas interior, spring with Easter, etc.); the Goldbach trade shop (Dom Goldbakha) with exhibits depicting the history and crafts of Sarepta – here you can go down in the old wine cellar to see the old machines and tools weavers, blacksmiths, carpenters and bakers, pottery and many other amazing objects that reproduce the life of the residents. Nowadays the Old Sarepta Museum is a major cultural, tourist, research and methodological centre of Volgograd. A German library in Old Sarepta is one of the largest in the Southern Federal District and is included in the list of the best museums in Russia. Exhibitions of artists and photographers are regularly held here, the museum arranges tours to the Volgograd region and the Republic of Kalmykia. Concerts of classical music are held in Sarepta Church (Kirkha).
In 2005 the architecture of the museum was enriched with the Equilibrio sculpture (Equilibrium). The work by the famous German sculptor Rolf Shaffner is a part of a huge composition consisting of five elements installed in five cities of Europe forming a kind of a cross of enormous size with a length of 4000 km.
Passing by the House of unmarried sisters and single brothers you will reach a bridge. Walk along the path under the bridge along the canal bank. From here you can see the first gateway with an arch and its height is 40 m, the composition is devoted to the Motherland and the heroic deeds of the Soviet Army.
Go further not paying attention to the fenced territory on the right and cross the park, a popular place for picnics and walks in the warm months, you can stroll past the fishermen and vacationers on a promontory next to the first gateway and admire its architecture and wonderful views of the canal and the river. The Lenin Volga-Don Shipping Canal (Volgo-Donskoy sudokhodny kanal imeni Lenina) is a unique hydraulic structure of the 20th century. It connects the two largest rivers of Russia – the Volga and the Don and links the White, Baltic, Caspian, Azov and Black Seas together. The total length of the Volga-Don Canal is 101 km. The canal includes 13 gateways and 3 reservoirs (Varvarovskoye, Bereslavskoye and Karpovskoye). Ships move along the canal at an angle due to the system of pumps and sluices. It will take 10-12 hours to overpass the canal. The first attempt to connect these rivers was taken by the Turks in the middle of 16th century, then in the 17th century during the reign of Peter I and in the 20th century in the USSR. The project of the construction was created in the middle of the 1930s but it wasn`t realized because of the Great Patriotic War. People continued the work on the project immediately after the Battle of Stalingrad in 1943. The construction of the canal began in February 1948. The canal was built within 4.5 years and it is a unique period in the world history. Tens of thousands of the Soviet Gulag prisoners and war prisoners built this canal.
For comparison: the Panama Canal with a length of 82 km was built within 34 years and the Suez Canal with a length of 162 km was built within nearly 11 years. In 1952 the water of the Volga and the Don rivers merged and Volgograd became a port of five seas. All the facilities of the Volga-Don Canal represent a single architectural ensemble built according to the project of a group of authors under the direction of an architect Leonid Polyakov. If you turn left immediately after the bridge and walk about 200 metres along Ulitsa Fadeeva you will see the Museum of History of the Volga-Don Canal (Muzey istorii Volgo-Donskogo sudokhodnogvo kanala). You can have a bite in an original Samolet Cafe ("Airplane", 10:00-00:00 daily) located inside the aircraft YAK-40 and then you can take a stroll along the embankment.
On the embankment of the Volga-Don Canal you can see one of the highest monuments in Volgograd – the Lenin Monument at the entrance to the Volga-Don Canal (Pamyatnik V. I. Leninu u vkhoda v Volgo-Donskoy kanal), the father of the Russian communism. The monument dimensions are impressive: the statue height is 27 m, the pedestal is 30 m; the total height of the monument is 57 m. The granite stairs lead from the pedestal to a wide area at the monument foot and then to the Volga River. The pedestal of the monument at the Volga-Don Canal is much older than the statue itself. In 1952, the Stalin Monument was erected on it for the opening of the Volga-Don Canal. In 1961 the monument was dismantled for 1 night after 10 days when Stalingrad was renamed to Volgograd. There was an empty pedestal on the embankment for 12 years after this. Later it was decided to mount the statue to Vladimir Lenin on the pedestal. The monument was opened in 1973; the authors of the monument are sculptor Yevgeny Vuchetich and architect Benjamin Demin. The monument became a symbol of Krasnoarmeysky district of Volgograd as well as the first gateway arch of the Volga-Don Shipping Canal.
The Lenin Monument leads us back to the bridge.