Monument to the Defenders of Leningrad
This hugely important monolithic monument commemorates the hardship that Leningrad’s citizens endured during the 900-day Siege of Leningrad in World War II, and is truly an arresting sight as you approach it down the extremely long and wide Moskovskiy Prospekt (Road to Moscow).
This devastating blockade caused the most destruction and the largest loss of life ever known to a modern city and is imprinted on the consciousness of the city, and all who survived it were and always will be, rightfully revered and looked upon with awe.
In the aftermath of the Siege most of our palaces and historical landmarks were left in ruin, including Catherine Palace and Peterhof Palace, with many art collections and treasures looted and transported to Nazi Germany.
These included the famous Amber room, which has never been found…Over 1,500,000 soldiers and civilians died and more than 1,400,000 were evacuated from Leningrad and perished from starvation or the countless bombardments of the city.
Paid for by public donations, it was unveiled in 1975 as the centre piece of Ploshchad Pobedy (Victory Square). The bowels of the monument consist of a vast broken ring of steel (symbolizing the breaking of the siege) lined with giant medals and flickering flames, where you can hear the strains of Shostaskovich’s Seventh Symphony, which was composed and performed during the Blockade.
Off this lies a subterranean memorial hall with bronze caskets displaying relics from the siege, including a violin that was used to perform the symphony. There are also documents and artifacts reminiscent of the heroism of the defenders of Leningrad, both for soldiers and of the ordinary citizens. Two instructive films, based on real events, can also be viewed together with an electrified map entitled “The Heroic Battle of Leningrad.”
In addition that constant metronomic beat that you hear was broadcast over the radio throughout the Blockade, to symbolize the starving cities heartbeat.
Above the ground rises a 48-meter-high red granite obelisk, fronted by statues of a soldier and a worker. Most striking of all are the larger-than-life blackened bronze tableaux of partisans, salvage workers, nurses and other citizens, defiantly facing south towards the enemy.
Constructed on a truly grand scale, it was designed to be viewed from a distance or from a passing vehicle on the main road to and from the airport, to remind foreign visitors of the price that the city paid to defeat the Nazis.
This attraction is a somber and quite unbelievable history of war and the suffering and heroism born out of such times. After visiting this attraction you will probably come away with a far richer understanding of the deep love citizens have for St Petersburg and why this city is truly special.