The Grand Golden Gate of Vladimir

The Golden Gate of Vladimir is one of the most exceptional symbols of Russia and came into existence between the years 1158 and 1164. Today the Golden Gate is the only part preserved from the entire ancient Russian city gate, one of the more formidable fortresses. This four-sided tower with an large oak door has now been converted into museum where you will be able to view and read about the history of the Mongol invasion of Russia in the thirteenth century.

The Golden Gate of Vladimir is not the only Golden Gate. There are many, which exist within the holiest cities of the Eastern Orthodoxy, that being Jerusalem, Kiev and Constantinople. When Andrew the Pious made Vladimir his capital, he had a strong desire to copy these structures from the holy cities. He commissioned a tall limestone tower to be erected over the city’s main gate and to be lined with golden plaques. Apart from this gate there were also several others that surrounded the city, but the Golden Gate was the main entrance.

It is highly possible that the masons used were invited from Byzantium because of the fact that they used Greek measures instead of the Russian ones. The main arch of the tower stood at 15 meters tall and was topped with a barbican church devoted to the Deposition of the Virgin’s Robe and symbolized the Theotokos’s defence of Andrew the Pious’s capital.

In 1237 the Mongols destroyed the city of Vladimir, however, the golden gate was able to survive this attack. In the late 18th century the structure had reached a point where the main structure was so dilapidated that even Catherine the Great was hesitant to pass through the arch fearing it might fall down. In 1779, she ordered that the detailed drawings and measurements that had been made previously be carried out. After much negotiation in 1795, it was decided that the vaults and the barbican church were to be destroyed. They built two round towers next to each other in order to support the structure and then reconstructed the barbican using the same drawings made in 1779



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