Triumphal Arch

This monument is a stark reminder of Russia’s long history of power and perseverance in its military endeavors.

Like the triumphal arches of Ancient Rome, Moscow’s Triumphal Arch commemorates a military victory. Inspect the sculptures and reliefs of the monument and try to guess what the various depictions represent.

This triumphal arch marked a change in how Russians remembered their successes. Previously, the norm was to erect religious buildings, but Peter the Great brought to the country the new practice of building victory arches. It is dedicated to the 1812 Patriotic War against Napoleon. Once a fixture in Tverskaya Zastava Square, see it now in Pobedy Square, where it was taken in the 1960s after many years in storage.

Notice the two warrior statues standing guard on the lower levels of the triumphal arch. They wear a mixture of Russian and Roman clothing, conjuring up associations with the military might of Rome. Sculptures of the goddess Victory sit gazing into the distance on the upper levels. On top of everything is the Chariot of Glory. Note how Victory is again represented here, this time with six horses dragging her chariot forward. She also carries a laurel wreath to award to her winners.

Below Victory, look for a plaque with words by Prince Mikhail Kutuzov, a field marshal, which praises the bravery of those who fought in 1812. Look closely at the monument and you will see its intricate high reliefs. These blend the Russian style of the time with ancient world influences, which lend them a mythical feel. Try to find one in which Russian soldiers are depicted smiting the French in classical garb with sword and shield.

Another high relief shows a woman with a shield sporting Moscow’s coat of arms, featuring St. George and the dragon he slayed. Alexander I is with her, in the costume of a Roman leader. Note that Minerva and Hercules, key figures in ancient mythology, watch the activities.

Take the metro to Park Pobedy to see the Triumphal Arch in Moscow. It is a public monument and as such, is free for all to admire.

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