The city of Volgograd, Russia, on the western bank of the Volga River and 560 mi/900 km southeast of Moscow, was once known as Stalingrad, but it was renamed in the late 1950s when Stalin's policies were reassessed—less favorably—in official history books. It has been given the title "Hero City" because of its courageous and tenacious resistance to the Nazis in "The Great Patriotic War" (as the Russians call World War II). It was there that the most important battle during World War II took place, claiming the lives of more than 1 million soldiers. The city was leveled during the war and has been totally rebuilt since then.

We suggest one day in Volgograd to visit the impressive Museum of the Defense of Stalingrad (http://stalingrad-battle.ru), to see the memorial atop Mamayev Kurgan Hill (allow at least an hour, preferably in the early morning) and to take one of the 90-minute boat rides on the Volga.

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