Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad, St. Petersburg, Russia

The Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad is one of the first major landmarks that many visitors to St. Petersburg see, as it is situated in Victory Square (площадь Победы) on the main road between Pulkovo airport and the city centre. It was designed by Sergei Speranskiy and Valentin Kamenskiy and sculpted by Mikhail Anikushin and the main monument officially inaugurated on Victory Day, May 9, 1975, the 30th anniversary of the end of the war. A memorial exhibit underneath the monument was opened on February 23, 1978.

The memorial features a 48-m-tall granite obelisk, from which steps lead down to a central square. In the centre of the square is a sculpture that represents the suffering of the city during the siege. There is also an eternal flame and stones commemorating the 13 Hero Cities of the Soviet Union. The entire square is surrounded by a 124-m-diameter circular wall, with a symbolic break at one point. The inscriptions 900 дней and 900 ночей (900 days and 900 nights) refer to the duration of the blockade (which was 872 days, to be precise).

Two sculpture groups at one end of the complex depict soldiers and militia leaving for the front line, which was just a few miles from the spot, along with the workers and civilians who remained in the besieged city.

The underground hall is, like many Russian museums, rather dark, so apologies for the poor photos. A large diorama illustrating the front lines during the siege sits in the centre of the floor, surrounded by display cases containing artefacts such as weapons, letters, medals, and so on. At one side of the hall is a display featuring large bronze plates describing the events of individual days during the siege. These are changed daily. Two documentary films about the siege are shown on large screens, and the sound of a metronome is constantly played. This sound was broadcast on the radio during the siege, with the tempo increasing whenever an air-raid warning was in effect.

The complex is just a few minutes walk from Moskovskaya (Московская ) metro station. The museum hall opens from 10 am to 6 pm every day except Wednesday and the last Tuesday of every month. Admission is 90 rubles (~€2), but is free on January 27, the anniversary of the lifting of the siege; February 23, Defenders of the Fatherland Day; and May 9, Victory Day. The web site of the State Museum of the History of St. Petersburg, which runs the memorial, contains information in English.

Also in St. Petersburg:

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