A fans’ guide to Volgograd

You probably won’t be surprised to hear that Volgograd stands on the mighty Volga River. Formerly called Stalingrad – the fortress that played a pivotal role in World War II – you might have seen its story featured in the gripping film ‘Enemy at the Gates’ starring Jude Law and Rachel Weisz.

Sandwiched between Ukraine and Kazakhstan, midway between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea, and a long way south of Moscow, it’s one of the southernmost venues to host football’s most prestigious competition in 2018.

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Source: volganet.ru

With temperatures averaging 21°C in June, it’s a great place to enjoy all the action. And with a direct rail link to Moscow and public transport in the form of buses, trams and trolleybuses, plus its own special metrotram service, getting around the city is easy.

If you’re heading for Volgograd for this year’s World Cup, you won’t be disappointed, as it’s a sunny and hospitable city whose residents love football. While you’re there, take a stroll down Lenin Street or visit the Church of St Sergius of Radonezh, one of the most revered saints in Russia. But above all, make a date in your diary – 18 June, when England take on Tunisia at the Volgograd Arena!

Where to stay

Volgograd may not be Russia’s most tourist-oriented city, but it’s hardly short of places to stay and things to do, either.

Needless to say, it’s going to be of particular interest to England fans, as that’s where their team takes on Tunisia in its opening game of the competition. So travel and accommodation are going to be at the top of many people’s lists, of course … not to mention making sure they have tickets for this important game.

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Source: A.Savin, Wikimedia Commons

If finding somewhere close to the stadium is your main concern, then don’t worry – the Volgograd Arena is less than 4 kilometres from the city’s main square and railway station. With a great public transport system, the venue is easy to reach from virtually anywhere in the city. And don’t forget: your FAN ID means you can travel free on selected routes.

There are plenty of major hotels available throughout the city, along with cheaper options if you want to keep a check on your budget so as to have more left over to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the best that Volgograd has to offer. Not many international chains have a presence in the city, but you’re sure to find what you’re looking for … with a little help from RNTO!

Whatever your accommodation needs, we can make all the arrangements for you. Call us today on 0207 985 1234 for friendly, helpful advice and the best deals to suit your needs.

The stadium

The Volgograd Arena is another venue that’s been built specially for this year’s World Cup.

The stadium stands on the site of the former Central Stadium, which used to be Volgograd’s main stadium. The Volgograd Arena has a capacity of 45 000 seats divided over two tiers. Its main features are a cabled roof and meshed exterior. After the World Cup, the stadium’s capacity will be reduced to 35 000 seats and provide the new home for FC Rotor Volgograd.

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Source: Alexxx Malev on flickr

The Volgograd Arena is located on the banks of the Volga River, just north of central Volgograd and roughly 4 kilometres from the city’s main square (the Square of Fallen Fighters) and the main railway station. It borders Volgograd’s main park (Friendship Park), and lies a short distance from the city’s main attraction: the Motherland Calls statue.

During the World Cup, the Volgograd Arena will host four first-round group games, kicking off with England against Tunisia on 18 June, followed by Nigeria v Iceland four days later.

What to see

Russia is full of stunning sights and amazing things to do. But the most impressive of them all has to be the Mamaev Kurgan (Motherland Calls) statue which dominates Mamai Hill.

Mamai Hill is the highest point in Volgograd. During the Second World War, it was called ‘Height 102’, with the whole city visible from its top. The Battle of Stalingrad lasted for 200 days, during 135 of which the Soviet troops fought for ‘Height 102’. After the Battle, Mamai Hill became the final resting place of over 34 000 people who died defending the city and its population. The memorial complex ‘To the heroes of the Battle of Stalingrad’ opened here in October 1967. Two hundred steps lead up to the very top of the hill, signifying the number of days the Battle of Stalingrad lasted. At its top stands ‘the Motherland Calls’, a statue of a woman with a sword in her hand who calls her sons to defend their Motherland. The total height of this sculpture is 85 m, its weight 8000 tons. It is considered to be one of the seven wonders of Russia.

To see most of Volgograd’s main attractions in one go, take a stroll down Prospekt Lenina (Lenin Avenue), the city’s main street and one of the longest roads in Russia at about 9 miles. Along the way, you’ll see the Monument Commemorating the 400th Anniversary of Tsaritsyn, Stalingrad and Volgograd (the three names the city has had during its history).

The Government of Volgograd Oblast headquarters also stands on Prospekt Lenina and is one of the most unusual buildings in Volgograd. What looks like a single building is actually two 19th-century houses merged together. If you stand facing the main entrance, the right-hand part used to be a secondary school pre-1917, while the left used to be the First Men’s Grammar School.

Predmostnaya Square occupies the site of the former Tsaritsyn Fortress and took its present form in the years right after World War II, when the new Astrakhansky Bridge was built. The monument in honour of the members of the Young Communist League Organisation (Komsomol) who fought at Stalingrad stands at the cross-section of Prospekt Lenina and Komsomolskaya Ulitsa, and marks the 30th anniversary of the Soviet victory in the Battle of Stalingrad. The first-ever stone synagogue to be built in Tsaritsyn is located a little off Prospekt Lenina, on Ulitsa Port-Saida, while the equestrian statue of Grigory Zasekin, the founder of Tsaritsyn, stands in Vasily Simbirtsev Park.

Ploschad Lenina (Lenin Square) is well worth a visit for anyone interested in the Soviet era, with its monument to the leader of the world’s proletariat, erected in 1960 to mark Lenin’s 90th birthday. The bronze statue shows Lenin standing on a granite pedestal symbolising the turret of an armoured combat vehicle, re-creating the historical scene when Lenin delivered a key speech from the top of an armoured combat vehicle in front of Finland Station in Petrograd in April 1917.

Like all Russian cities, Volgograd is hardly short of churches and other religious buildings. The Church of St Sergius of Radonezh is the most famous. Sergius of Radonezh is one of the most revered saints in Russia, who blessed Prince Dmitry Donskoy for the 1380 Battle of Kulikovo Polye, which freed Russia from Tatar-Mongolian rule. Decorated with elegant plasterwork and mosaic icons, the church is home to many sacraments and significant religious relics.

Also worth a look are St Nicetas Church (the oldest Orthodox temple in Volgograd), the Church of the Holy Martyr Parasceve Friday, built by local merchant and factory owner Vasily Lapshin in memory of his late wife, and the beautiful Church of the Assumption of the Holy Virgin – the first Catholic church in Tsaritsin, opened in 1899.

With plenty of galleries and restaurants, theatres and concert halls, there’s no shortage of things to see and do in Volgograd. But then again, maybe you’re more interested in the city’s bars and restaurants…

Bars and restaurants

Poneslos describes itself as a ‘bar for fans of meat, beer, football and live music’. It’s a good place to start if you’re looking for somewhere to enjoy a few beers with your World Cup!

Harat’s Irish Pub is, obviously, Irish, while Draft Craft gets and ‘excellent’ rating on Trip Advisor for its craft beer and European menu.

There’s plenty of choice, as you’d expect for a major city the size of Volgograd. Just make sure you try out some of the local hostelries for a proper taste of southern Russian hospitality.

For a more extensive round-up of what’s on offer, visit the official Russia 2018 website. Enjoy the atmosphere!

Watch for free

Following your team at the world’s greatest football competition isn’t cheap. With travel, accommodation and the all-important beer money, the World Cup experience is likely to make a dent in your finances. So it’s good to know that there’s a great alternative to attending the matches in person … and it’s free!

Each host city has its own Fan Fest area – a giant screen set up in a huge open space where you can watch all the action live. In Volgograd, you need to head for 62 Armii Embankment, an iconic location in the city centre, along the Volga river and served by the main pedestrian routes. So if you haven’t got a ticket to watch England beat Tunisia (!), or to watch any of the other matches live, join 30 000 like-minded football fans at Volgograd’s Fan Fest, and enjoy the greatest football show on earth!

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