Triumphal Arch of Moscow

A triumphal arch was always the embodiment of victory since ancient times. These arches were built for the victors of wars who, after having passed through the arch, had become triumphant and received the highest degree of appreciation and respect.

It was Peter I who introduced the tradition to celebrate major victories of Russian troops by erecting triumphal arches. Before that, there had been another way to celebrate significant historic events – by building churches and monasteries.
The introduction of new secular holidays besides traditional, religious ones is also related to Peter I and his reforms. These holidays included in particular the ceremonial processions. The building of triumphal gates and arrangement of “fiery shows” – the fireworks – were timed to coincide with such processions and holidays.

The first arch was built in Moscow in 1696 in commemoration over the win in Azov. In such manner the tradition to erect triumphal arches gradually developed in Russia. People used to stop, step out of carriages, jump off horses, remove their hats and listen to inaugural speeches in front of the triumphal arches. Throughout the entire 18th century the triumphal arches were raised in honour of the coronations of Tsars and Empresses.

By the middle of 1814, a wooden triumphal arch was built at the Tverskaya outpost in order to greet victorious Russian troops that were returning from Western Europe. But this temporary monument to the win over Napoleon fell into decay too soon and it was decided to replace the wooden arch with a stone one in 1826. The new arch was built only in 1834 under the supervision of the famous architect Osip Beauve. The sculptural arts played a major role during the creation of the monument’s artistic look. The theme of “victory” was reflected in writing over all the elements of the Triumphal Arch. Powerful cast figures of ancient warriors were standing between each of six pairs of pillars put on high pedestals. The faces of warriors dressed in plate-armour and spike helmets are rigid and expressive. The walls above the figures are ornamented with elegant of dynamic reliefs.