Not many people know that Coventry and Volgograd are twin cities; even fewer people know that the twinning movement has its origins in the friendship between these two cities. Thus, Coventry and Volgograd are the first twin cities in history! On the 6th of March students of Russian from Warwick University went to visit places linked to this historical friendship.

The walk began at Coventry Cathedral, where students visited the Kazan icon of the Mother of God gifted from Volgograd and the Millennium Chapel of the Stalingrad Madonna. At the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Olga Lawson, who was born in Volgograd, explained the history of the city’s friendship with Coventry, next to the Women’s Greetings Book addressed ‘from the Women of Stalingrad to the Women of Coventry’. 

The Stalingrad Madonna

Students went on to lay floral tributes at the Memorial near Broadgate, which was rededicated in 2019 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the friendship between Coventry and Volgograd. The walk also took in the first place named after the twinning, now situated next to the Ring Road and bearing the inscription: ‘At a time when both were rebuilding after 1945’. Students also visited other emblematic places commemorating the twinning, such as a peace garden and a café with a mural representing Volgograd’s sculpture of the Motherland.

Tributes at the Memorial near Broadgate

Special thanks go to Olga Lawson from the Coventry & Volgograd Bond of Friendship Committee and to Maria Belova, Russian tutor at Warwick University. They both gave students a wonderfully immersive excursion in the Russian language covering some of the highlights of Coventry and Volgograd’s joint history. 

Want to try reading about this news in Russian? Read the article published on the ‘Stalingrad Fund’ website here.

More information on the history of Coventry’s twinning with Volgograd is available on the Coventry City Council website here.