About Mamayev Hill
Mamayev Hill or “Mamayev Kurgan” in Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad) in Russia is a memorial complex dedicated to the Battle of Stalingrad.
History of Mamayev Hill
The Battle of Stalingrad (1942-3) is still widely viewed as one of the most important- and bloodiest – battles in the Second World War. It marked a defining moment in the war on the Eastern Front as the Russians defeated German forces, thwarting their attempts to capture the strategically important city of Stalingrad. Many acknowledge this victory as the moment the tide turned for the fortunes of Nazi Germany, starting a chain of events which would lead to the downfall of the Axis powers.
Stalingrad also marked one of the bloodiest battles in history: it’s estimated there were over 2 million casualties, and high German losses led to redistribution of their forces. Despite their victory, Russian forces lost more men than the Germans, with at least 1 million deaths. However, a higher population and bigger army meant that this huge loss of life proved less problematic to their war effort proportionally than the losses suffered by Germany.
Mamayev Hill in Volgograd was a vital stronghold during the battle. Known in military circles as Height 103.0, having control of Mamayev Hill was seen as controlling the city. The hill saw immense amounts of action – the ground was completely churned, the soil scorched and the topography changed. Fragments of metal and bone are still present today – it doesn’t take much to find them.
Today, Mamayev Hill is dominated by a dramatic 300-foot statue entitled “The Motherland Calls”. At the time of its creation, this dramatic depiction of a woman wielding a sword was the tallest statue in the world. Some news reports have now said that this statue is in danger of collapsing.
Several other sculptures dot the Mamayev Hill memorial complex, which includes a military cemetery housing the graves of over 600 soldiers (109 of whom are identified).
Mamayev Hill today
Mamayev Hill is an impressive memorial complex today. The 200 stair climb to the top of the hill is steep but worth it for the views over the city and the river Volga. ‘The Motherland Calls’ is nicknamed Mama by locals, and is generally seen as a symbol of Russian resoluteness and defiance in the face of any threats to their homeland.
Go expecting to spend half a day on the hill and exploring the surrounding monuments and memorials.
Getting to Mamayev Hill
Mamayev Hill is the far side of the River Volga to the main city of Volgograd. Cross the river via the main bridge, and turn right up Prospekt Imeni v. I. Lenina. Alternatively, the tram stop Mamaev Kurgan is at the foot of the hill.
Known for its vast landscape, turbulent history and striking buildings, Russia is brimming with historic sites. Here's our pick of 10 historical sites that make for essential visiting.