The Azovstal plant in Mariupol was one of the largest iron and steel producers in Europe. In 2022 it became a symbol of resistance to brutal Russian aggression and the incredible courage of Ukrainian fighters.
The Azovstal plant in Mariupol, with more than 10,000 workers, was one of the biggest producers of iron and steel in Europe. This enterprise is called a ‘city within a city’ for a reason: it occupies an area of about 11 km², which is 22 times more than the territory of the Vatican and 5 times more than the Principality of Monaco. The plant was located between the Kalmius River and the Sea of Azov and had its own port and an extensive system of underground utilities.
Azovstal products were used to build many iconic architectural objects in the world, including the tallest building in Great Britain — The Shard in London, the transformer building of The Shed art centre, the Hudson Yards skyscraper complex in New York, and The Saint George Bridge in Italy.
The enterprise’s history begins in 1930. The Gary, Illinois, metallurgical plant near Chicago served as its prototype. The Azovstal plant was constructed under the direction of Western engineers and began producing cast iron as early as 1933.
From that time, the history of brilliant records begins. In 1939, for the first time in world practice, steamships delivered hot agglomerate to the enterprise, which is a semi-finished product for cast iron production. In the same year, Azovstal set the world record for the daily productivity of a blast furnace. Before Mariupol was occupied during the Second World War, the plant actively supplied the front lines. Later, already retreating from the city, the Nazis destroyed its production facilities. However, the enterprise was quickly restored, and it launched the work at full capacity, enthusiastically setting new records and training young specialists.
The development of the plant’s potential continued during the independence of Ukraine. In 1994, Azovstal was the fourth company in the world to receive American Petroleum Institute certification for its products. That made it possible to produce high-strength steel for oil drilling platform construction here. Over time, Azovstal received 14 more certificates from world-renowned classification organisations and was officially recognized as an enterprise of strategic importance for the economy and security of Ukraine.
In 2022, the name of this metallurgical giant came up around the world for another, tragic reason. Azovstal became a symbol of resistance to brutal Russian aggression and epitomised the incredible courage of the Ukrainian army. Almost from the start of full-scale Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the Azovstal shelters were a refuge and the last bastion of hope for the citizens and defenders of Mariupol for more than two months. Over 1,000 civilians, mostly women and children, came here in early March. They didn’t know the plant would become the main outpost of the Ukrainian resistance in the city.
After the Russian troops besieged Azovstal and the Ukrainian defenders refused to lay down their arms, the Russian forces stormed and bombarded the enterprise with missiles from the sea, air, and land for weeks. For weeks, terrified civilians did not see the sun, had insufficient food and water, and lacked access to information. For weeks, the Ukrainian military heroically defended the plant, and doctors assisted the injured in unsanitary conditions without proper equipment and medicine. The entire world followed the plight of these people for weeks and demanded that an evacuation corridor be opened.
After all, civilians and the injured were successfully evacuated from Azovstal. And after long-lasting negotiations between the Ukrainian side and the Russian troops, the defenders of Mariupol received an order from their command to lay down their weapons. They left the plant in mid-May and were driven out to Russian-controlled territories. Every day, with bated breath, all of Ukraine waits for the return of each hero of Azovstal home.
Satellite images reveal that almost every building of Azovstal has been destroyed. Despite the irreversible destruction, the plant and its ‘steel defenders’, like the Donetsk airport and its cyborgs, have forever become a symbol of indomitable Ukrainian prowess, invincible human spirit, and heroism, which has impressed the whole world.
Formerly Palace of Culture of the Azovstal plant. The building of the former Continental hotel (1887–1910).
A unique monastery complex of the XVI–XIX centuries with natural caves.
Historical buildings reflecting the Mariupol architecture of the late XIX and early XX centuries before the Bolshevik Revolution.
Donbas Arena is the home stadium of the Ukrainian ‘Shakhtar’ football club, which became the first of the ‘elite’ category in Ukraine and in all of Eastern Europe.
An ancient building of 1902 in the Northern Art Nouveau style, which comprised under its roof the works by respected Ukrainian landscape painters, as well as world-famous marine and realist artists.
Invaluable monumental artworks, created by a group of Ukrainian monumentalists led by Alla Horska, a dissident artist and one of the Sixtiers movement’s founders. These panels incorporated elements of Ukrainian folk tradition, contemporary world trends, and Soviet art.
Formerly prospering trade and then a metallurgical centre of Ukraine that has become the symbol of the bloody Russian invasion of Ukraine and the genocide committed by the Russian army and government.
The only church in the world entirely decorated with Petrykivka paintings, an ancient style of folk Ukrainian decorative painting included in the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage.
The museum was established at the Faculty of History of Mariupol State University. It has become an important cultural and educational site bringing together students, professors, and citizens around the native land’s history.
The manor of Mariupol City Council’s mayor, having more than 150 years of history behind. Its architecture incorporated elements of the Stalinist Empire, Neoclassicism, and Baroque.
One of the oldest and largest Ukrainian museums, which collection comprised over 180 thousand exhibits, including the monuments and artefacts of world importance.
One of the biggest steam mills in the German Mennonite colony that existed in the Donetsk region at the turn of the 20th century. Built in 1903, this mill had been feeding people of New York and all of its suburbs for decades.
The central church of the Sviatohirsk Lavra’s convent, erected in the neoclassical style with baroque elements in 2005 in the site of a stone church of 19th century dismantled by the Bolsheviks.
The house was built in the constructivist style in 1929. It has been the centre of the city’s creative life for almost a hundred years.
Former State Bank’s building, constructed at the turn of the 20th century. In 2019, this site housed the city library, which history began back in 1904. An intellectual and educational centre of the city.
A two-storey manor in the classical style with a neo-Gothic tower, built in Mariupol 125 years ago. The state was a property of respected doctors.
Part of the Sviatohirsk Lavra. All the skete’s buildings are made of massive pine trunks. The All Saints Church, the main skete’s sanctuary, used to be the biggest wooden church in Ukraine.
Educational institution with more than 140 years of history where many generations of Mariupol citizens studied.
Center of spiritual life of Muslims of Donetsk region.
Two buildings are a monument to an entire era. They were the last buildings in Mariupol designed in the Stalinist Neoclassicism style.
One of the oldest theatres in the Left-bank Ukraine.
The mosque was built in 2007 on the site of a mosque built in 1906 and destroyed by the Bolsheviks in 1936.
St. Demetrius Church dedicated to the holy martyr Demetrius of Thessaloniki is one of the oldest in the region.