History of the city: Tsaritsyn, Stalingrad, Volgograd

Tsaritsyn (1589-1925)

Volgograd is considered to be founded in 1589. At that time the city had a different name - Tsaritsyn. Initially, Tsaritsyn was a watch fortress to ptotect the southern borders of the Russian lands. The first stone structure was built in 1664. The fortress was attacked by rebellious peasants a lot of times. In 1608, the foundation of the first stone church named after John the Baptist was laid in the city. The church was destroyed in late 1930-s and reconstructed in 1990-s in the same place.

Another interesting historical fact from the history of the city: Tsar Peter the Great visited the city three times. According to one historical version, Peter the First wrote the project of the Tsaritsyn fortress himself. The tsar presented the citizens his cane and his cap which are still kept in the Regional Museum of Local Lore.

In 1765, due to the efforts of Catherine the Great, foreign settlers came to Tsaritsyn. At the mouth of the Sarpa River 30 km south of Tsaritsyn german hernguters founded Old Sarepta settlement. In short time it turned into a rich colony where mustard, cloth manufactures and other crafts were highly developed.

The construction of the railway line towards Kalach-on-Don (1862) and Gryazi (1872) led to the economic growth and made Tsaritsyn a transport junction between the Caspian and the Black Seas, the Caucasus and the central part of Russia.

By 1913, the Tsaritsyn regional centre had 137 000 residents and outran many provincial cities by this index. That was the period of significant growth of the construction of residential, industrial, public entertainment buildings, hospitals, schools and hotels.

In 1925, in the era of Joseph Stalin, Tsaritsyn was renamed into Stalingrad.

Stalingrad (1925-1961)

In 1930-s, Stalingrad was one of the most fast-evolving cities in the country, its population was about 480 000 people. Due to industrialisation programme in the USSR during the period of the prewar five-year plans Stalingrad became a powerful industrial centre of the country. By the total production output the city was on the second place in Volga oblast (region) and in the fourth place in the whole Russia.

The city played an important role in the economy of Russia; the perspectives of its future development were also significant. But the Second World War changed everything. The Battle of Stalingrad was destined to be one of the hardest and most significant pages in the history of World War II. During the fights all city districts were completely destroyed, more than 90% of the residential areas was burned and demolished. After the battle the city looked like ruins, but against all odds Stalingrad emerged from desolation.

When the battle came to an end, the Russian government session raised a question of inexpediency of the city reconstruction. It was calculated that it would be cheaper to build a new city than to renew the ruined one. It was suggested that Stalingrad would be built 10 km up the Volga River and an open-air museum would be founded at the place of the former city. But Joseph Stalin ordered to reconstruct the city by all means. The reconstruction works started in March 1943.

The architects reflected the heroism of Stalingrad in the style of the buildings. This is where monumentality and complexity of usual residential buildings, constructed in 1950-s, comes from. The style that prospered in the years of the postwar construction went down in the history as Stalinist neoclassicism. The abundance and variety of architectural details, decorative elements create a deep emotional atmosphere.

In November 10, 1961, the Decree about renaming Stalingrad oblast into Volgograd oblast and Stalingrad into Volgograd was adopted. As a matter of interest, there were different variants of a new name for the city – Geroysk (“Hero-city”), Boygorodsk (“Fighter-city”), Leningrad-na-Volge (“Leningrad-on-Volga”) and even Khrushchevsk. Volgogradskaya Pravda Newspaper of November 15, 1961 gives an explanation of the new name: 'The name of the city, located near the mighty river, and the name of the river, near which the hero-city was built, should become one'.

Volgograd today

Volgograd is a hero-city, that has a rich historical past, and at the same time a developing industrial centre of the region. It is a tourist attraction that has unique historic monuments, nature and architectural places of interest. The population of the city is more than 1 mln people. The native population is Russians; Armenians, Ukrainians, Tatars, Azerbaijanians and other ethnic minorities live here.

8 administrative city districts extend from the North to the South along the Volga River: Traktorozavodsky, Krasnooktyabrsky, Tsentralny, Dzerzhinsky, Voroshilovsky, Sovetsky, Kirovsky and Krasnoarmeysky. Originally, they were just working villages near industrial facilities.

The economy and industrial capacity of Volgograd plays a very important role for Volgograd region and Russia. The most developed industries are oil and metal processing, chemical and food industries, machine- and shipbuilding.

Volgograd is also a big educational centre with universities and specialized institutions of higher education. Studentship plays a huge role in the city development. Volgograd students take part znnually in different educational forums, for example, 'Student spring festival' (Studencheskaya vesna), work as volunteers at socially important events (including the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, 2014 and the 2018 FIFA World Cup), form youth policy as a part of the Youth Parliament.