27 July, 2002 will mark the 50th anniversary of commissioning of the Volgo-Don shipping canal.
The attempts to connect two large rivers, Volga and Don, were also made several centuries ago. Thus, the matter of construction of a big shipping canal was raised by Peter the Great at the end of the 17th century. The canal might have served as an ideal means of military and strategic communications as well as of organization of trade with Mediterranean countries via the Azov and the Black sea.
Nevertheless, all the attempts failed both then, at the end of the 17th century-beginning of the 18th century, and later (in the 19th century). The project eventually was implemented in the 50's of the 20th century.
The canal was built at the location of the closest proximity of Volga and Don, where lower, full-flowing currents of the two great rivers were separated by slightly more than 100 km.
Construction of the canal was started even before the Great Patriotic War, was suspended for the period of 1941-1945 and then was resumed in 1948. On 31 May 1952 the historical event took place: waters of Volga and Don were brought together.
The length of the canal is 101 km out of which 45 km run through small rivers and reservoirs.
Walking excavators with 65 meters long boom which allowed to perform soil development without use of transportation means were used for the first time for this construction project.
The canal has 13 shipping blocks, crosses three water reservoirs to which three pump stations supply water. In addition to that 13 dambs, 7 spillways and floodgates, ferry crossings and landing piers were built at the canal.
The canal itself takes the Don water pumped into water reservoirs by the three pump stations. In addition to that the Volgo-Don canal complex comprises the Tsimlyansky water-engineering system and a network of irrigation canals used to irrigate lands of the arid zone. The Volgo-Don canal together with the Tsimlyansky water-engineering system is the single architectural ensemble the themes of which are devoted to the battle for Tzarytsin (the name of present Volgograd before the October revolution of 1917) during the civil war years and the Stalingrad battle during the Great Patriotic War.
Mysterious philanthropist, Rustem Magdeev, had agreed, at his own expense, to donate a sculpture of Rudolf Nureyev, made by Russian sculptor Zurab Tsereteli, to the Kazan Opera and Ballet Theatre