The tank battles in the Kursk salient in the summer of 1943 would see the biggest tank battles in history, and one of the most significant armoured clashes would take place outside the city of Prokhorovka in Southern Russia, not far from the Ukrainian border. This battle is covered – along with a lot more – by the impressive Battlefield State Museum located inside the city.
How to get there
Located some 670 kilometres south of Moscow and just over 140 kilometres north of the Ukrainian city of Khar’kiv, Prokhorovka (Прохоровка) is certainly a trek for the hardcore enthusiast. Nevertheless, once you get there it is well worth the effort. Or so I’m told – I haven’t managed to get out there myself yet!
Driving in Russia is not particularly recommended for foreign visitors, but if you do choose to make your way to Prokhorovka by car the route from Moscow is fairly simple. Just head south out of Moscow on the Motorway M2 (E105), driving towards Belgorod (Белгород) and Yakovlevo (Яковлево). You will pass through the cities of Orel (Орел) and Kursk (Курск) on the way (both of which will be familiar to those who have read anything about the Ostfront).
When you reach Yakovlevo exit left off the M2 towards Prokhorovka on Pervomayskaya ul. (Первомайская ул). The road will take you through the town and turn almost ninety degrees; Parkovaya Street (Парковая ул.) will be on your right.
Public transport is a lot less stressful, and will allow you to get a good rest before arrival. There are only six stops on the overnight service 071B from Moscow to Belgorod, and the overnight journey to Prokhorovka takes around nine hours. The 071B departs from Moscow Kursk Station (Курский вокзал) at 21:30, and arrives in Prokhorovka at 06:18 the following morning. From the station in the centre of town it is only a 1.6 kilometre walk to the museum, which is at the eastern end. Take Sadovaya St. (Садовая ул) heading north-east: Parkovaya St. (Парковая ул) will be on your left, but you’ll probably spot the monuments long before.
It is also possible – and in terms of distance far more economical – to follow the trail taken by the German Panzers travel north to Prokhorovka from Khar’kiv in the Ukraine, but given the political situation in the region at the moment this would not be advisable.
The Battlefield State Museum is certainly impressive, and built in that easily recognisable Socialist-Realist style. Outside the museum is a large and striking monument showing a number of Soviet tanks overwhelming clearly-marked German ones.
Somewhat surprisingly, the large array of exhibits are labelled in both Russian and English, but if you are interested in the machines and military hardware and know enough about them already this will make little or no difference. Still, it is a surprisingly nice touch for a museum located in a place that would not have seen many English-speaking visitors.
Prokhorovka Battlefield State Museum, Parkovaya ul., 47, Prokhorovka, Russia
51.0418638 N, 36.7471271 E