Monument to Yuri Dolgoruky in Moscow - Russia

Monument to Yuri Dolgoruky in Moscow - Russia

Monument to Yuri Dolgoruky in Moscow - Russia
Monument to Yuri Dolgoruky in Moscow - Russia

The sculptural monument to Yuri Dolgoruky on Tverskaya Square is one of the controversial symbols of Moscow, the hero of urban folklore and a vivid example of Soviet art of the late 1940s - early 1950s of the 20th century, with its characteristic features of superficial realism, excessive attention to minor details and elements  decor.

The Grand Duke of Kiev Yuri Dolgoruky is traditionally considered the founder of the city of Moscow in 1147.

Although historians of the 20th century knew for certain that this was the year of the first mention of Moscow in the annals as a village that existed long before Dolgoruky's reign, according to the established tradition, the celebration of the 800th anniversary of the city in 1947 was carried out on a large scale. In the jubilee year, special attention was paid to the historical person of the “founder of the city”. In 1946, by personal order of Stalin, an attempt was made to find the Kiev burial of the prince's remains with the aim of their solemn burial. But the expedition was not crowned with success, since the authenticity of the found remains was not confirmed.

History of the Monument

In September 1946, to the great surprise of the venerable Soviet sculptors, a little-known master of small plastic (ceramics and porcelain), S.M. Orlov, won the competition for projects of the monument to Yuri Dolgoruky. There is a legend explaining the choice of the jury by the personal participation of Stalin. Read this article of Monument to Charles de Gaulle in Moscow.

Orlov's lack of experience in monumental sculpture was reflected in the artistic features of the monument to Yuri Dolgoruky, who was all imbued with a craving for excessive decoration, stylized as the motives of ancient Russian architecture.

The festive laying of the first stone took place on September 6, 1947, and the monument itself was unveiled on June 6, 1954. The duration of the work was explained by Orlov's inexperience and insufficient funding, because in the jubilee year, the grandiose construction of "Stalin's skyscrapers" also began.

The monument to Yuri Dolgoruky in the form of an epic hero on a war horse cost the Moscow city budget 5.5 million rubles.

Another curious fact is connected with the name of the sculptor Orlov. It was planned to make the inscription on the monument to Yuri Dolgoruky: "To the founder of Moscow from the Soviet government", however, the sculptor managed to insist that the Soviet government was not mentioned. For that time it was unheard of insolence or desperate stupidity.

Unsurprisingly, the public reaction to this government-approved monument has been overwhelmingly negative. In the 1950s, it was the only monument in Moscow that did not reflect the ideology of the Communist Party in any way.

The Mossovet, which was located on the same Sovetskaya Square (now Tverskaya Square) as the monument to Yuri Dolgoruky, received mountains of letters with indignation at the "ideologically alien" monument to the "representative of the exploiting classes."

For 50 years, the attitude of Muscovites towards the monument has changed from negative, through ironic and, finally, to approving.

Nowadays, all festive events in Moscow associated with the City Day are necessarily held against the background of the monument to Yuri Dolgoruky, and his image is widely replicated on posters, postcards and commemorative coins. Having gone through difficult times and different leaders, he deservedly became one of the symbols of the capital.

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