Being an amateur photographer (not an architect at all), I prefer to bring original material to this blockchain, such as my own photographs. But I'm really obsessed with history and historical photos of the life that have gone a long ago, and my city of St.Petersburg in particular. I have accumulated a huge pile of interesting black and white stuff I would love to share ... but I am not its author! therefore, as a rule, I dont hold my breath and all the stuff just wait quietly :)
Today I will make an exception: firstly, in order to support the community together with the #OCD, and secondly ... I have long been going to tell a story about the Moscow Triumph Gates at St.Petersburg: I have my own photographs, and I really can tell an interesting story about it. Afraid that even a few posts will not be enough for this! So, Part one | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4. Russian version will follow, as well.
So ... where should I start? I live in the neighborhood, I often find myself at this location, every time I go to the city center, or pay a visit to my publisher, I pass by the Gates and admire ... and of course I take photos :)
All of them are very different. This one was 1st published at Steemit blockchain back in 2019, before the HIVE was born and before C-19...
It is a key point on the city map, within its infrastructure; like the Japanese Fujiyama, which is known for its "24 views from different angles" series. Nowadays it is not the last street in the city - it leads to Pulkovo airport, this is the first thing that tourists and guests of the city see. In the 18th century, it was city's edge, the Obvodny Channel located nearby, marks the formal border of the "historical part of the city" today.
Until the middle of the 19th century (the time when emperor Nikolas I railway have appeared), it was the most important trade and passenger route connecting the capital with the central regions of Russian empire and Moscow. A wide variety of carriages, postal coaches, stagecoaches, carts and long carts loaded with all kinds of goods filled the wide and very comfortable road. A huge number of cattle were driven here to the stockyard as well. Here was the entrance to the city and the customs checkpoint. The need to organize the area was obvious, and in 1838, during the reign of Emperor Nicholas I, the Triumph Gate was erected here.
50 years earlier, Empress Catherine II was delighted with the drawings of the French architect Charles-Louis Clerisso and commissioned him to design the Gate. She enjoyed his work, but it was not accepted due to its high cost.Project Clerisso (1780; drawings and the author's model have been preserved and kept in the Museum of the Arts Academy).
In 1831, Albert Kavos developed the project of "Victory Square" (dedicated to the victory in the Russian-Turkish War of 1828-1829). It contained a three-span triumphal arch, a beautiful square with several monuments and a Doric colonnade connecting this ensemble with the city. His project was not implemented for the same reason: it was too expensive! By the year 1832, the project of another famous Russian architect V.Stasov, more budget-friendly, won. Stasov based his project on the Athenian Acropolis Propylaea. The order of the columns, the utmost simplicity and logic of composition put the Moscow Gate on a par with the great examples of the art of ancient Hellas.
Propylaea of the Athens Acropolis.
V. Stasov's project (1832). GIOP Archive (State Inspection for the Monuments Protection).
The Gate received an original and successful sculptural design: Stasov replaced the geometric pattern of the Doric entablature with figures of geniuses, sculptural details became an integral part of the composition. Above eight columns, Stasov placed "fittings" made of military armor (aka 'armatura'. 'armament'). This gave the Gate's silhouette a great solemnity and pathos. The sculptures' models were created by B. Orlovsky, one of the best Russian sculptors of the first half of the 19th century.
Below some of my Gates' sculpture decorations captured during 2011-2017 years, copyright (c) @qwerrie
The Moscow Triumph Gate is the world's largest architectural structure made of cast iron, it is of great technical interest and it is a monument to the skill of Russian foundry workers. Casting and installation of the Gate was carried out by the state-owned Alexandrovsky iron foundry (casting of all parts was completed in the spring of 1837, after that installation and finishing began). Whole project costed 1,108,000 rubles (of which the pure foundry work amounted to 760,000 rubles). All works took 6 years, from 1833 to 1838.
NB. I am getting a response in comment section, which makes me understand I missed to single an important nuance: the Gates were made of 'cast iron', not an 'iron', this is a bit different thing. Also, note the columns are mountable, hollow inside. One of the columns even had a staircase to the top, which used to serve as the observation deck in the past... I will write about it in more detail later.
Below is the photo from 1931, I am ruining the chronology here, but obviously I dont have any suitable illustrations from 1837 to put them here, hehe!
An integral part of the architectural ensemble conceived by Stasov were two "guardrooms" houses, aka 'Kordegardia' (premises for the guards of the fortress gates, from the French 'corps de garde').Plans, intersection of the guardhouses that make up the Gateway ensemble.
One of the first images of the Gates: an engraving by Charlemagne, circa 1850. View in the direction from the city. A linden alley is visible on both sides of the tract.
Charlemagne watercolor (1853), view towards the entrance to the city; two guardhouse houses are on the left and right.
And the routine everyday life began. This wasnt city's parade fashionable district. By the end of the 19th century, the usual poor working-class outskirts, taverns and brothels were known to exist here in large numbers, the nearby Ligovskaya Street became a famouse criminal center of the city. Veterinary station, cattle yard, horse tram terminal.
Terminal of the horse tram. Photo by Karl Bulla. Circa 1900-es.
Russia was making a giant leap forward into the twentieth century, the city was modernizing and expanding non-stop. Soon it will feel very cramped in these narrow patriarchal frames - and in a few decades these pictures will remain only in memory - and on the photo paper. To be continued!