Located in the north of Moscow, the All-Russia Exhibition Centre was officially opened in 1939 as the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition. After the end of the Second World War the centre was reconstructed and in 1959 it was reopened as the Exhibition of the Achievements of the National Economy of the USSR. Later, in 1992, the exhibition centre was renamed the All-Russia Exhibition Centre. One of the pleasant surprises for any person visiting Russia is the People's Friendship Fountain, also known as the Friendship of the Peoples Fountain, located in the plaza, behind Pavilion 1 of the All-Russia Exhibition Centre. The fountain was constructed in 1954, by a band of five sculptors: Z Bazhenova, L Bazhenova, Z Ryleeva, I Tchaikova, and A Teneta.
Originally, a monument to Stalin was supposed to be installed on the spot, where the fountain stands now. However, as the personality cult of the powerful man ended, the fountain took his place.
Sixteen bronze and gold plated statues of maidens, dressed in ethnic attire, encircle the fountain. The statues significantly represent the member nations of the former Soviet Union: Russia, Armenia, Ukraine, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Lithuania, Latvia, Tajikistan, Estonia, Turkmenistan, Moldavia, Georgia, Kirghizstan, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. The 16th country, Karelo-Finnish SSR, was incorporated back into Russia in 1956 and in the waning days of the USSR, became the Republic of Karelia, a subdivision of the Russian Federation, on 13 November 1991. The main objective of the fountain was to represent the idea of national identity and integrity to the Soviet people and the world.
The beautiful statues of the sixteen maidens gracefully form a circle around a wheat sheaf, made of gold-plated copper sheet. The red granite bowl that encircles the monument is the basin of water, measuring an area of 3700 square meters, with the capacity of holding 4000 cubic meters of water.
The water of the fountain shot upwards from some 800 spouts, with the highest spout jetted upward 24 metres. Illuminated with 4525 lamps and projectors, the fountain creates a magical sight after the dusk.
Nonetheless stunning, the Friendship of the Peoples Fountain, adorned with the sixteen statues evokes memories of an era long gone, but not forgotten. Along with the Kremlin, Saint Basil’s Cathedral and the Red Square, it is another most frequently photographed sites by the tourists.