Must see attractions in Volga Region

  • Top ChoiceSights in Volgograd

    Mamaev Kurgan

    Known as Hill 102 during the Battle of Stalingrad, Mamaev Kurgan was the site of four months of fierce fighting and is now a memorial to Soviet fighters who died in this bloody-but-victorious fight. The complex’s centrepiece is an extraordinarily evocative 72m-high statue of Mother Russia wielding a sword that extends another 11m above her head. To get here take the high-speed tram to the Mamaev Kurgan stop, 3.5km north of the centre, and walk up the hill. In addition to the towering victory monument, the kurgan (mound) is an entire complex of statues, reflecting pools, a war cemetery, a church and a pantheon with an eternal flame and a stirring 'changing of the guard' ceremony on the hour. The pantheon is inscribed with the names of 7200 soldiers – over one million Russian soldiers died here in battle in WWII.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Nizhny Novgorod

    Kremlin

    Built on remnants of an earlier settlement, Nizhny Novgorod’s magnificent kremlin dates to 1500–15 when Italian architect Pyotr Fryazin began work on its 13 towers and 12m-high walls. Most of the buildings are government offices, though the city's two most important museums are here as well as the 17th-century Cathedral of the Archangel Michael and a striking Monument to Heroes of WWII. You can walk the walls from May to November and take in riverside views.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Nizhny Novgorod

    Memorial Apartment of Andrei Sakharov

    The nondescript flat where dissident scientist Andrei Sakharov, father of Russia's hydrogen bomb, spent seven years in exile after protesting the 1979 Russian invasion of Afghanistan. The Nobel laureate was held incommunicado until 1986, when Mikhail Gorbachev finally released him. Exhibits include background on Sakharov's life as well as the apartment itself. It's located 10km south of the centre. To get there, take a taxi or bus 1 from pl Minina i Pozharskogo or pl Gorkogo (stop: Muzey Akademika Sakharova).

  • Top ChoiceSights in Nizhny Novgorod

    Rukavishnikov Mansion

    This exhibition space is located inside a 19th-century mansion once belonging to the Rukavishnikov merchant family. You can wander through the rooms on your own or join one of the hourly 40-minute tours in Russian and (less frequently) in English. Furniture and the illustrious interior of the unusual mansion are the threads running through the tours or a visit, and these are complemented by changing exhibitions – often with a focus on household furnishing and objects.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Nizhny Novgorod

    Cable Car

    Connecting Nizhny Novgorod with the unattractive settlement of Bor across the Volga, this cable car offers a spectacular 13-minute ride. In winter there are views of dot-sized figures fishing on Volga ice below, and in summer there's swamp, lush greens and gentle blues. The ride peaks at over 80m and is 3.6km long. The base station is located along the embankment, 2km east of the Kremlin. Take any bus to Sennaya bus station and walk back towards the mosque.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Astrakhan

    Kremlin

    The kremlin on top of Zayachy Hill is a peaceful green haven. Its walls and gate towers were built in the 16th century using bricks from the ruins of the Golden Horde’s capital Saray, which stood north of Astrakhan. Today, the kremlin encompasses several museums and two churches. The main entrance to the kremlin is through the impressive Prechistinsky Gate, which passes under the bell tower of the Assumption Cathedral at the western end of ul Sovetskaya.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Kazan

    Kazan Kremlin

    Kazan’s striking kremlin is home to government offices, pleasant parks, museums, the enormous Kul Sharif Mosque and other religious buildings. Among the highlights are the Hermitage Kazan gallery and the Tatarstan Museum of Natural History. Some of the white limestone kremlin walls date from the 16th and 17th centuries.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Kazan

    Chak-chak Museum

    Interactive museum dedicated to traditional Tatar food and drink, particularly sweet 'chak-chak', balls of dough that are baked in honey and served on holidays and at family festivities. Call or email in advance to book a place on a tour and leave about two hours to learn how the various foods are made and then to sample teas and sweets.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Nizhny Novgorod

    Arsenal/National Centre of Contemporary Art

    Situated in the former kremlin arsenal, on the right after you enter the main gate, this top-ranking national gallery has changing exhibitions of international and Russian contemporary artists. The refurbished space also houses a cafe-restaurant and a concert venue.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Kazan

    Soviet Lifestyle Museum

    Kazan's most unusual museum, packed with Soviet knick-knacks, is proof that Russia's socialist epoch fostered a lively contemporary cultural scene – especially music – in the 1970s and 1980s.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Kazan

    Kul Sharif Mosque

    The Kul Sharif Mosque was completed in 2005 and is named after the imam who died defending the city against the troops of Ivan the Terrible in 1552. The museum inside tells the story of Islam, especially on the Volga, and includes manuscripts, some pieces of furniture and women's costumes.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Astrakhan

    Assumption Cathedral

    Dating from 1698–1720, the Assumption Cathedral dominates the kremlin grounds and is decorated inside with attractive frescoes.

  • Sights in Volgograd

    Panorama Museum of the Battle of Stalingrad

    This enormous museum has eight large display rooms filled with exhibits on WWII and the Battle of Stalingrad. There's little English signage but each room has a short synopsis in English on the room's particular theme. Audio headphones are available for a fee. A highlight is the vivid 360-degree Battle of Stalingrad Panorama. The museum is close to the Volga River, several blocks north of alleya Geroyev. The entrance is located at street level on the side of the building facing the Volga. The area around the museum has some pretty views out over the river and plenty of old tanks and planes for kids to climb around on. Next to the museum stands the remains of an old mill, dating from 1903, that was destroyed in the battle. It's left standing as a reminder of the horrific fighting.

  • Sights in Kazan

    Old Tatar Settlement

    This assemblage of historic timbered buildings, dating mainly from the 17th and 18th centuries, marks the quarter where ethnic Tatars were forced to live following the siege of Kazan in 1552. Little of the old settlement remains, though many houses still exhibit colourful, traditional decorations. The most significant building here is the Mardzhani Mosque (ul Kayuma Nasyri 17), dating from 1767. It was the first stone mosque permitted to be built within the city limits.

  • Sights in Volgograd

    Rossoshka Memorial Cemetery

    This reconciliation cemetery, near the village of Rossoshka, 35km northwest of Volgograd, marks the final resting place of some 20,000 fallen Soviet fighters, 60,000 Germans and 2000 Romanians who died in the Battle of Stalingrad in 1942 and '43. The Soviet and Russian soldiers are buried on one side of the road, while the Germans and Romanians are on the other. There's a small museum that holds remnants of the battles that have been excavated.

  • Sights in Volgograd

    Museum Reserve Old Sarepta

    An hour by marshrutka from the centre, what is now known as the Krasnoarmeysk district was once the German colony of Sarepta. Today the entire quarter is a museum reserve set around a beautiful square and Lutheran church, dating from the late 18th century. To get here, take marshrutka 15a, 91a, 93a, 93c, 93 or 55a from pr Lenina and ask the driver to stop at Vinogradnaya. The original settlers of old Sarepta were German Catholic missionaries from Moravia (in the Czech Republic) who arrived here in 1765 with the aim of proselytising the Kalmyks. Failing that, they became the mustard tycoons of Russia. The museums – one a historic pharmacy, the other telling the history and lifestyle of the colony – are interesting but a tour in Russian, English or German is useful, also taking you into the otherwise closed church. Buy tickets for the two museums from the white building alongside the church.

  • Sights in Nizhny Novgorod

    Nizhegorodsky State Art Museum

    The former governor’s house inside the kremlin houses the Russian collection of the vast Nizhegorodsky State Art Museum. Exhibits range from 14th-century icons to 20th-century paintings by artists such as Nikolai Rerikh and Vasily Surikov. The museum begins (on the left after you enter) with 14th-century icons. The entire collection is chronological, so you can see by room 6 how rudimentary landscape perspectives creep into 17th-century icons. After the icons comes the large collection of mostly oil-on-canvas paintings by Russian masters, culminating in Soviet art. The English descriptions are excellent.

  • Sights in Astrakhan

    Kryusha Quarter

    The Kryusha area of former Tatar and Persian suburbs south of the May 1st Canal is still predominantly Muslim, which is reflected in the proliferation of mosques. It's quaint in a rundown sort of way, best avoided in the evening, and a quarter where stray dogs roam along dirt roads. A nice walk to get a feel for the quarter follows Kazanskaya ul for about 2km, starting at ul Kirova and walking west to near the Tatar-Bazar.

  • Sights in Nizhny Novgorod

    Western European Art Collection

    The Nizhegorodsky State Art Museum's collection of Western European art is exhibited a short walk from the kremlin along Verkhne-Volzhskaya nab, an attractive street lined with restored 19th-century buildings. Inside the art gallery you'll find a collection of mostly anonymous or lesser-known European painters who, despite their modest credentials, produced some remarkable works.

  • Sights in Kazan

    Annunciation Cathedral

    The attractive Annunciation Cathedral, built on on the foundations of a razed eight-minaret mosque, was designed by Postnik Yakovlev, who was also responsible for St Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. It was destroyed several times over the centuries but was restored in the 1990s and finally re-opened in 2005. The museum on site tells the cathedral's story.