Narva Triumphal Arch - A Sight to Behold

The Narva Triumphal Arch was originally constructed over the Narva highway to greet soldiers returning from their victory over Napoleon in the war of 1812. It was a wooden structure which was located roughly halfway between Ploshchad Stachek and Obvodny Canal and it was designed on the plans of the famous Italian architect Dzhakomo Quarenghi. The original triumphal arch surely made an impact on those original soldiers, but it wasn’t long before it started to fall into a state of disrepair. As a result it was redeveloped and moved in the 1820s on its current location where it continues to greet visitors and sing praises over an age old victory.

The current Narva Triumphal Arch owes much to Vasily Stasov, a famous Russian architect who undertook the revival of Quarenghi’s original wooden structure. Stasov carefully redeveloped the arch in a way that preserved the essence of Quarenghi’s original design but made it stronger, more impressive and much longer lasting. The new home of the arch was Peterhof road which was close to the bridge on the Tarakanovka River. This river no longer exists but the arch certainly continues to stand proudly.

Reconstruction on the arch was a lengthily process that caused much debate. Though ground was broken at the site at a 15th year anniversary of the Battle of Borodino in 1827, it was not until the 1830’s that construction actually began on the arch. Those involved argued about what material should be used for the new arch’s façade. Stasov wanted to build the arch from brick and then use sheets of copper for the façade – a rather innovative and unknown concept in Russia and Western Europe at the time. He was eventually given permission to do just that and before long, copper sheets were being molded to form the façade, ornament and sculpture that you can see on the arch today. This was all done at a local factory and the structure was completed in 1833.

The arch features a single bay and is similar in many respects to the triumphal arches of ancient Rome. It features two ancient Russian warriors near the ground who greet their triumphant comrades from between some pillars. Above them, winged female figures cry out triumphantly signifying glory. The arch is topped with a magnificent statue of a triumphal chariot which is pulled by six ponies. The chariot is driven by a powerful winged female figure and she holds in her hand a victory laurel wreath. Despite some damage suffered during subsequent wars, the arch has since been restored and is in excellent condition. The Narva Triumphal Arch is a welcome addition to any trip to the fabulous city of St Petersburg.

 



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