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Historic Glory of the Millennium of Russia Monument

Situated in the Kremlin of Novgorod, Russia, the famous bronze monument known as the “Millennium of Russia” was erected in 1862 to commemorate the millennium of the arrival of Rurik in Novgorod. The arrival of this prominent Varangian chieftain on what is now Russian soil, is traditionally considered to be the starting point of the history of Russia.

In 862 Rurik gained control of the prosperous trading post of Ladoga and built the Holmgard settlement near present day Novgorod, following which he founded the Rurik Dynasty. The Rurik Dynasty ruled Kievan Rus, and then Russia, until the dynasty came to an end with the death of Tsar Feodor I in 1598.In 1859 a competition was held to design the monument. The winners of the competition were artist Mikhail Mikeshin and architect Viktor Hartmann. Mikeshin’s design, which was symbolic of the tsar’s power, consisted of a 15-meter high bell crowned by a cross. The bell was to have several levels of sculptures depicting Russian monarchs, courtiers and clerics who had been prominent during various periods of the history of Russia. Mikhail Mikeshin was an accomplished artist, but not a sculptor, and so the 129 individual statues for the Millennium of Russia monument were made by leading Russian sculptors of the time, including his personal friend, Ivan Schoeder and the renowned sculptor Alexander Opekushin.

The pedestal for the 65 ton bronze monument was made from sixteen blocks of Sortavala granite, with each block of granite weighing more than 35 tons. At a cost of 400,000 rubles the Millennium of Russia monument was the most expensive monument in Russia at the time. Critics of the monument felt that it had too many figures and some were not happy that Russian tsars and commanders were represented alongside eminent personalities of Russian culture. Supporters, on the other hand, regard Mikhail Mikeshin’s design in keeping with the grandeur of the Kremlin and the nearby 11th century Saint Sophia Cathedral. Few will deny that the “Millennium of Russia” is an impressive sight.During the German occupation of Novgorod in World War II, the Millennium of Russia monument was dismantled by the Nazis in preparation for transport to Germany. However, before this could take place, the Red Army regained control of the city and the monument was restored to it former glory in 1944.

Certainly a visit to the captivating Russian city of Novgorod would not be complete without viewing the Millennium of Russia monument depicting some of the prominent people who shaped the country.

 



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