Doroga Zhizni – The Road of Life, Russia

DorogaZhizniRussia Russia has always fascinated travelers by its stories and historic wonders. The country which formerly belongs to part Europe and part Asia has fondly been noted as belonging to the continent of Eurasia.

The cities of Russia are filled with rich culture and heritage. Every monument and site has a story to tell. And so is the case of the Doroga Zhizni Road in the city of Leningrad. Also called the Road of Life, this route that courses by the water’s edge is deemed to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site for the role it played in saving an entire city from destruction in the Second World War.

The road is estimated to be about 30 miles long and starts from the outskirts of St. Petersburg with Lake Lagoda being the end point. The entire length of the road is filled at regular intervals with memorials of the war.

History of the Place: A brief history of the place is necessary in order to understand its significance. The standing city itself is a great example of the bravery and determination showed by soldiers during the war.

On June 22, 1941, Adolf Hitler imposed a siege on the small city of Leningrad and ordered it to be completely destroyed. By the time, the siege was imposed; most of the population and supplies were evacuated to the neighboring Soviet  controlled countries.

What remained of the city was reduced to army warehouses aimed at building and repairing weapons and machinery that assisted the Nazis in the war. The few people who remained in the city were put to work in the plants and army guard units irrespective of their age and condition.

On November 20, 1941, the Soviet Union started an operation that involved supplying the city of Leningrad with food and other supplies for its residents. The only way to reach the city from outside was the Doroga Zhizni road.

The first team that started out that night was pulled by horses and transported supplies to the city on sleighs that could cut through the then frozen lake. What started out as a miniscule operation, turned into a full flow process with nearly thousands of supplies being brought to the city under cover and residents being evacuated to the Soviet controlled nations on a regular basis.

Trucks soon started bringing in supplies from outside and there was a period when the Road of Life operated for nearly 152 days in the winter until the month of April. Of course, the convoys had to be wary of the Nazis who tried to disrupt the operation as often as possible with the help of artillery and shoot at sight orders.

The entire process was a heroic attempt and soldiers who volunteered to venture into the city with supplies or for evacuation purposes knew they were possibly carrying a one way ticket and could never come back alive.

The Road Today: The 30 mile long road today serves as a reminder of the siege and efforts of countless heroes who gave their lives for a noble cause. Tourists throng the boulevard which runs by the edge of the road and driving through the road which is dotted with memorials is a complete pleasure.

You will be looking to go somewhere between the months of June and September if you wish to drive through this road. These are the months when the road is at its liveliest and colorful.

There are a total of 7 monuments you can see as you drive through the Road of Life. In addition to these, it is also possible to spot among others, 56 memorial poles along the railway lines and 46 memorial poles on the road itself. Each of these memorials tells a significant story about the passage on the Road of Life.

Flower of Life Memorial: This would be the first memorial you will come across on the way. Located about 3 km down the road, the memorial was built in 1968 and is known to consist of eight stone tablets that contain inscriptions rewritten from the pages of the diary of Tanya Savicheva who was a school girl at the time of the war.

Rumbolovsk Hill: This memorial can be found 10 km down the road. Created out of only metallic oak and leaves made of laurel, the memorial represents the glory of life. There is also a stone tablet that contains a few verses from the poem etched by the famous poet, Olga Berggolts.

Katyusha: This monument was erected in memory of brave soldiers who had given their lives to save the city and can be found about 17 km down the road, near a quaint village called Kornevo. The structure was originally built in 1966.

The Broken Ring: After traveling about 40 km, you are bound to come across this monument which is present on the shore of the lake Lagoda in the village of Kokkorevo. Among others, you can see a statue and a cannon which resembles an anti aircraft one.

The Crossing: This monument was erected in memory of the so called soldier pontooneers who had helped people and vehicles cross into the Soviet Union by guarding the border fearlessly. The monument can be found in the village of Morozova.

The Steel Way: This monument was dedicated to the workers of the railway who braved death to transport supplies and people across the border. It was erected in 1972 and stands to this day to mark an example of true heroism. An old age steam locomotive can also be found on the same site. The specific engine is touted to have operated on the Road of Life during the war.

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