Volgograd is a grandiose city in all senses. It was founded in 1589 as Tsaritsyn, but it made history during a 36-year period when it appeared on maps as Stalingrad. In 1942 the city became the scene of an epic battle that changed the course of WWII. The number of soldiers and citizens who died in this battle is almost twice the current population of the city. Volgograd had to be rebuilt from scratch, which explains the Stalinesque grandeur of public buildings and broad avenues, all of which is Soviet baroque at its most eloquent or hideous, depending on your architectural taste.
In the far corner of this sprawling city, you can marvel at a feat of Soviet engineering – the first lock of the Volga-Don Canal. Nearby is the partially restored town square of Tsaritsyn’s German district.
In late 2013 Volgograd was the target of several suicide bombings, including one that caused massive damage to the main train station and killed 17 people. Despite the bombings, Volgograd remains a safe city for travellers.