Memorial "Defenders of the Soviet Arctic in the years of the Great Patriotic War" ("Alesha")
Marvel at the majestic memorial to the Defenders of the Soviet Arctic during the Great Patriotic War erected in the high hill above Murmansk. It is one of the must-see sights when staying in the region, known by the locals as the Alyosha monument. Put on your sneakers, grab a water bottle and climb the hill to explore the complex.
Honoring the brave
In 1941 the Soviet forces resisted the invasion of the Nazi army, part of Hitler's campaign of taking over the Arctic. It was a turning point in history that kept Hitler away from acquiring more territory in the region. In October 1974, the 30th anniversary of the defeat of the Nazi troops in the Arctic by Soviet soldiers, sailors, and airmen was celebrated by inaugurating the Alyosha Monument. The 35.5 meters monument is the second tallest statue in Russia and represents the figure of an unknown soldier in a long coat with a cap and a rifle as if he is doing a watch. The statue is colossal and weighs around 5,000 tons. Nevertheless, the structure is not made of full concrete, it is hollow in the inside. Before the podium – used for speeches during ceremonies – you will find the eternal flame that is kept burning to symbolize the effort put by the soldiers. It is made of natural black stone. By the foot of the monument, there are two capsules containing seawater from the gravesite of the heroic Tuman – a ship that sank while fighting the Germans – and the second one has "earth watered with the blood of the defenders" from the Valley of Glory and the Verman Riverfront. In 2004, a wall adhered to the complex displaying different plaques that commemorate other hero cities – a Soviet honorary title awarded for outstanding heroism during WWII.
Overlooking the panorama
The features of the soldier are detailed, and his eyes are bewitching. You'll see he is glancing towards the West, in the direction of the Valley of Glory. Located in the outskirts of Murmansk, the reason for his position is because this was the place during World War II where many battles were fought by the Soviets. The monument itself is breathtaking, but so are the views from the city and the Kola Bay. Bring your camera with you, because you will want to snapshot this. The statue can be seen from any part in the town and should be your first stop when exploring Murmansk, no matter how the weather is, as it is charming with snow or sun. Plus, it will give you a whole overview of the city and its history. It is also hard to miss by sailors approaching Murmansk, as is the first one to greet the ships from the far.
A good suggestion, is to take a local guide with you to the top to understand the full story and what the statue really means to the Russian people. To reach the complex take bus number 5 to the last stop.