Triumphal Arch in Moscow,Russia - Historical Gates
22-11-2018    79 times
Triumphal Arch Moscow Russia

During 1814, a wooden Triumphal Arch was built beside the Tver to commemorate the victorious Russian troops returning from West Europe. The temporary wooden structure soon became dilapidated and after twelve years a decision was taken to replace the wooden Triumphal Arch with a stone one in 1826. Joseph Bove, a Russian architect of repute drafted the design for the proposed project in the same year, but as it needed some readjustments, he had to work for almost two years more on it, which was finally adopted in April 1829. The stone-laying ceremony for the new arch took place the same year on August 17 and a bronze plaque was placed at the base of the future monument, indicating the dedication of the arch in memory of the Triumphant Russian army of the Napoleonic Wars in 1814 and rebuilding Moscow, ruined in 1812 by the invasion of the Gauls.

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However, due to shortage of fund and the indifferent attitude of the municipal authorities, it took five years to complete the construction of the arch. Finally, the opening ceremony of the distinctive monument took place on 30 September 1834, which stood near the Tver Gates for 102 years. The arch was built in brick, while the columns and statues were of cast Iron. The statues of two warriors standing guard on the lower levels of the triumphal arch, wearing a mixture of Russian and Roman clothing, conjuring up associations with the military might of Rome. On the top of everything was the Chariot of Glory, represented with six horses dragging forward the chariot of the goddess Victory gazing into the distance and carrying a laurel wreath to be awarded to her winners. The crowning glory of the arch, the six-horse chariot placed on the top was designed by Giovanni Vitali.

Triumphal Arch Moscow

This second arch was dismantled in 1936 as a part of Joseph Stalin’sreconstruction of the downtown Moscow,to re-arrange the square near the Belorussia Station and to widen it for fluent flow of traffic between Gorky Street and the Leningrad main road.

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Accordingly, the Triumphal Arch, along with the guardhouses was pulled down and the rich sculptural decorations of the arch, created by Giovanni Vitali, were kept for 32 years as exhibits in the Shusev Museum of Architecture on the grounds of the former Donskoy Priory.

Triumphal Arch Moscow

In 1966, the Moscow Council of Labor Deputies decided to reconstruct the Triumphal Arch at a new location. It was also decided that the arch would be constructed according to the original design by Joseph Bove. However, it was not an easy task, since a single cornice crowning the arch should accommodate 1276 individual items. There was also a dispute relating the placement of the new arch. Some wanted the Triumphal Arch to be reconstructed on the main road of Leningrad, near the Belorussia Station, while others proposed to place it outside the city limits to the Poklonnaya Gora (Hill of Greeting), exactly as it had been created long back by Bove, along with the small, but richly decorated guardhouses symmetrically placed on the both sides of the arch.

Triumphal Arch Moscow
Triumphal Arch Moscow

There was another big problem. The original arch was constructed in the suburbs of the capital, among small buildings where it was the centre of an architectural composition. But, the new one was to be installed in an urban landscape, among tall buildings whose height would far exceed the height of the arch. Hence, it was necessary to place the monument in such a way that it would not get lost among the high rises and the beautiful arch with its unique decorations would be seen from a distance.

Triumphal Arch of Moscow by night
Triumphal Arch of Moscow by night

Finally, the architects found the ideal and the most suitable place they were looking for and the new edition of the arch was built in the middle of Kutuzovsky Avenue, close to the Victoria Park. The arch is surrounded by an open space known as the Victory Square. However, this time the Triumphal Arch was built without the guardhouses and railings. Apart from that, it was not built as a gateway, but as a free-standing monument in the middle of a wide road, with traffic flowing around it on both sides. Consequently, it decorated the space between the surrounding buildings and at the same time did not merge with it.

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Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
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