Saint Vladimir Monument
The history of Saint Vladimir Monument.
Around 1840, a series of landslides caused great damage to Alexandrovsky Descent. So it was decided to stabilise the hillside with trees and bushes and to create a park. According to legend, somewhere in this location, Prince Vladimir baptized the inhabitants of the city, thereby turning the Kyivan Rus into a bulwark of Christianity in these Slavic lands. The city authorities and local residents believed that such a significant place should be commemorated. At first, the church resisted any sculptural monument because, in the metropolitan’s words, it was a blasphemy to create a “false idol” in such a religious place. However, when the tsar permitted the construction of Vladimir Cathedral in 1853, the metropolitan acquiesced to the creation of a monument. The statue of Vladimir itself was created by Peter Clodt von Jürgensburg, the pedestal by Alexander Ton and the bas-reliefs by Vasily Demuth-Malinovsky. The 4.4 m bronze statue depicts Prince Vladimir in a cloak with a large cross in his right hand and a Grand Prince’s cap in his left hand. It stands on a 16-meter pedestal, which has the shape of an octagonal chapel in pseudo-Byzantine style. The brick pedestal and basrelief are faced with cast-iron plates.
The total height of the monument is 20.4 m. The pedestal depicts scenes of the baptizing of Rus in 988 AD, the emblem of Kyiv, and the star of the Order of St. Vladimir. The cross in the hands of the prince was soon illuminated at night by mounted gas lights (later replaced with electric bulbs). The cross glowing with white light on the Dnieper hillside made an indelible impression on the people. In those times it seemed like a miracle and served as a beacon to pilgrims, being visible for many kilometers. The park laid out at the same time had two terraces and was arranged to resemble Swiss mountains, with numerous brick pathways, linking all levels and terraces together. It became very popular among Kyivans. Firstly, because of its central location and splendid views, and secondly, because it was the first free park in Kyiv, open to everyone. All other city parks were paid admission only, therefore only local aristocrats used them. Now this enormous monument is recognized as one of main symbols of Kyiv and is often depicted in postcards.
This article was published in the book Interesting Kyiv.
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© Sky Horse Publishing House (Kyiv) / Nahs Haus, 2019
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