The Russian metropolis of Volgograd is a city on war footing – that war being WWII, of course. Seemingly everywhere you look there’s a sign, symbol or statue commemorating the Red Army’s epic victory in the Battle of Stalingrad. But it’s an uncommonly handsome city as well, with grand Soviet buildings exuding a pleasingly retro, majestic charm. With some excellent hotels and restaurants, it’s the perfect stopover on a trip along the Volga River.
WWII history buffs will certainly want to visit Volgograd, site of one of the best-known and important battles of the war. It was here in February 1943, when the city was known as Stalingrad, that the relentless German advance was first halted and eventually turned back for good. The Soviets transformed the city, literally and figuratively, into a symbol of their successful effort, and in the process graced Volgograd with broad boulevards and public buildings that show off an unmistakable Stalinesque grandeur, and an enormous victory monument you won’t soon forget.