The Story of a River, Country, and People
No Russian river comes close to having the same status in the life and history of the Russian people as the Volga. It has been a major transportation artery and a cultural meeting place, but also a battlefield, between north and south, east and west. The Volga was sailed by Scandinavian Vikings and Central European traders; it was where settled Slavs and Asiatic nomads competed for space, and Christians and Muslims for the souls of men. For better or worse, the story of the river is the story of the land. Along the Volga is where Russia grew into the country that the West has always tried, but never fully succeeded, to understand.