Pearls of Russia
Museums and memorial estates
Memorial Mamayev Kurgan
The memorial complex "Mamayev Kurgan" was built in honour of victory over German forces in World War II. It was opened on October 15th, 1967.
The winding path to the top of Mamayev Kurgan leads to the main monument of memorial complex, the symbolic statue of the Motherland., a mother standing guard over her country, her raised sword threatening to destroy any who dare to invade her land, and calling on her sons to follow her example. The statue of the Motherland is the focal point of the ensemble. From its base the whole of the memorial complex and the city stretched out below can be seen.
The statue is 52 metres high, and is made from block of reinforced concrete; not counting the foundation on which the statue stands, 5500 tons of concrete and 2400 tons of metal units were used in constructing the monument. The sword, made from stainless stell, is 29 metres long and weighs 14 tons. An aperture has been left in the sword blade to reduce wind resistance. The hanging part of the scarf weighs 250 tons. The statue stands on a plinth, just over 2 metres thick, which in turn rests on the main foundation. This foundation is 16 metres in height, but mostly covered with earth. The statue not fixed to the plinth by anything but its own weight. At night the statue is illuminated by floodlights.
"The Square of Sorrow". In its centre is sculptural composition A Grieving Mother, a statue of woman leaning over her son, a fallen soldier. His face is covered by the flag - he has been given final military honours. Woman grieves not only for her own son, but for all those who died defending Stalingrad. At the base of the sculpture is a small pool, intro which weeping willows lower their branches. The sculpture on the Square of Sorrow is 11 metres high.
Inside the Hall of Valour, the walls are faced with golden smalt. Arranged around the hall are 34 lowered banners of red smalt, on which are carved the names of over seven thousand - being only a small proportion - of those who died in the defence of Stalingrad. The sad, gentle music of Schumann's Reverie is played softly in the background.
In the centre of the hall a huge hand holds up a torch which carries the eternal flame. Around the top of the hall is the inscription: "We were mere mortals, and not many of us survived; but we did our sacred duty to our Motherland." Above the centre of the hall there is an aperture in the ceiling decorated with a mosaic representation of a golden wreath intertwined with the red-and-green ribbon of the Defence of Stalingrad medal. Other military decorations adorn the walls of the hall. A guard of honour stands by the eternal flame from 9 a.m. until 7 or 8 p.m. (depending on the time of year). The guards change every hour; and once a day (5 p.m. in winter, 6 p.m. in summer) all the guards parade in front of the Hall of Valour. This ceremony is accompanied by the sounds of a military orchestra.
At the upper end of the Ruined Walls there is the broad expanse of Heroes' Square, its central area taken up by a large, rectangular pool. On the left-hand side of the square is a wall in the form of an immense, unfurled banner, on which are the words: "An iron wind was blowing in their faces, but on they came. Once more the enemy was gripped by fear: was it mere men who were attacking them? Were they mortal?" On the right-hand side of Heroes' Square are six sculptural compositions. The pool on Heroes' Square measures 26 by 86 metres; it is faced with slabs of grey granite. The banner-wall is built of brick, and is set on a concrete base: it is 112 metres long, 8 metres high, and 1 metre thick. The six sculptures are of reinforced concrete, and each is 6 metres high, standing on a base 1 metre in height.
A staircase leads up from Lenin Avenue to a long, gently sloping avenue of Lombardy poplars. This avenue ends at a small square where, in the center of a round pool, stands the sculptural composition "Fight to the Death". This is the figure of a soldier, seeming to rise out of the solid rock from which he is hewn. In one hand the soldier holds a grenade, in the other - a machine-gun, and every muscle in his body is strained to the limit. All the details of the sculpture express the soldier's readiness to carry the fight to the bitter end, and not to give up even in the face of death. The pool, faced with granite slabs, is 35 metres in diameter. The sculpture is 16 metres high, with a base measuring 15 by 12 metres.