Knight, Atlanteans and victorious warriors: the history of the Moscow's most courageous monuments

February 26

Moscow landmark buildings are decorated with many sculptures that embody courage: some praise the labor of workers and the feat of soldiers, others are dedicated to the characters of ancient culture. In recent years, some of these buildings, which are of special value for the city and have a protected status, have found a second life. Let us recall the most famous of them on the eve of Defender of the Fatherland Day.

House with Atlantes at Ulitsa Solyanka

Walking along Ulitsa Solyanka Moscow people and guests of the city pay attention to the three-story mansion of the late XIX century. Its balcony is held on the shoulders of four mighty Atlantes. This building was constructed in 1882 by the architect Vasily Karneev for the tea merchant Alexei Rastorguev. The first floor of the house was occupied by a shop, and the upper two were richly decorated residential apartments. Later, the sugar merchant Pavel Kharitonenko lived in the House with the Atlantes, after the revolution the building was transferred to a cooperative apartment house, and then to health care institutions and the USSR Academy of Medical Sciences.

For a long time this building needed restoration but due to the fault of the negligent owner the relevant works were not carried out. Only 2018 saw change of ownership and the mansion began to return to its historical appearance. After the completion of the emergency work, the specialists started the restoration of separate elements. As a result, by the end of 2018 the Atlantes, which are the claim to fame of the house, came out to Moscow residents at its best.

Foundryman and blacksmith on Bolotnaya embankment

At the entrance to the former manor of the Kotov merchants, located on Bolotnaya embankment, you can see the figures of a foundryman and a blacksmith. Their appearance on the gate pylons was not accidental. The manor itself dates back to the XVII century. Its appearance and purpose changed through the time. It had different owners too. Until 1872, the owners were representatives of the merchant Kotov family and then the industrialist Gustav List bought the manor to open the Sofia Mechanical Plant on its territory. It was then that the entrance gate was decorated with famous monuments.

Today they underwent complete restoration, although not so long ago some elements of the composition were partially lost and damaged. It took six months to put the cast-iron artisans in order. The restoration works took place in 2020. The sculptures were dismantled and transported to the workshop, where all dirt was removed from them, paint and varnish layers were removed and cracks repaired. The lost elements were restored according to the author's samples, surviving parts and archival materials. As a result, the foundryman re-acquired the ladle and the mold for casting metal, and specialists also managed to restore the figure's arms and legs. And the blacksmith received his main working tools — hammer and anvil.

Worker on the tower of the Hotel Peking

Another well-known Moscow sculpture is a worker who looks at the city from the tower of the Hotel Peking. The building was erected in the mid-1950s as a symbol of friendship between the USSR and China according to the design of Moscow chief architect, Dmitry Chechulin. Over the years, the figure of the worker was seriously damaged: many elements were lost, the head was mostly hurt.

The sculpture was restored last year, when it was engaged in emergency work on the tower and restoration of architectural elements. The main difficulty consisted in finding materials that could suggest what the worker's figure looked like originally. The experts obtained the necessary information thanks to the surviving newsreel shooting of 1949.

After cleaning the sculpture and filling the interior with a special composition, the experts compared the results of the 3D scan of the figure with the film frames and determined the size and position of the missing elements. First it was a 1:5scale model and then it was made in full size from durable materials. Thus, after several months of hard work the worker acquired its historical appearance.

Knight on the Sadovoye Koltso

The rich decoration with numerous stucco bas-reliefs catches one’s eye on the facade of the former tenement house on Sadovaya-Samotechnaya Ulitsa. The main decoration of the seven-story building is a knight in armor with a sword, installed at the level of the last floor.

The building was erected in 1913 and belonged to Anna Shugaeva. In those years the first floor and basement housed shops, the rest of the premises were occupied by apartments. Today most of the house is also residential.

The building designed by architect Vasily Volokitin is an example of northern Art Nouveau. All decoration is imbued with the spirit of the Middle Ages — here and there you can see images of beautiful ladies and brave warriors, and at the front entrance guests are greeted with sculptures of mythical animals.

Sculptural compositions at Leninsky Prospekt

About 70 years ago, 24 sculptures were erected on the towers of residential buildings at Leninsky Prospekt, glorifying the feat of the victorious soldiers and symbolizing the post-war labor of Soviet people. Particular attention was paid to the images of soldiers: several statues depict the story of soldiers who are ready to give their lives for the motherland, others represent soldiers who returned from the war.

Natural weather conditions over the years brought the figures to hazardous state. Their restoration began in summer of 2018.

Initially, the sculptures in the gallery of house No.30 were restored to their historical appearance. In particular, experts put in order the four male figures in tunics on the roof holding assault rifles in their hands. Also, six paired figures from the upper tier of the building were restored. Here you can see soldiers with their caps tucked to the side and girls who meet them. To ensure safe dismantling experts removed the silicone molds from the sculptures and cleaned them of dirt in the restoration workshop, then external defects were eliminated.

In 2020, the twin sculptures of workers, collective farmers, miners and engineers on the opposite tower (house No.37) were restored. To date, all of them are recognized as cultural heritage sites of regional significance and are under state protection.

Defender of the Motherland on Kudrinskaya Square

One of the seven Stalin’s skyscrapers, founded 7 September, 1947 to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the city, dominates the center of Moscow on Kudrinskaya Square. The residential building has impressive size and decoration. It is the embodiment of Soviet Art Deco, a style characterized by pompous and luxurious decor. The building, which consists of three buildings different in height, together with the spire is 156 meters high. The decoration is dominated by expensive natural materials.

Along the perimeter of the building, there are numerous statues, which, according to the creators, symbolize creativity, happy childhood, and praise the work and heroism of the Soviet people. One of the sculptures embodied the image of the defender of the Motherland. A stone figure adorns one of the side buildings of the house. A seated soldier in a raincoat-tent thrown over his shoulders appears to the Moscow residents. He holds assault rifles with his hand.

The skyscraper location deserves special attention. In 1925-1993 this place was called Vosstaniya Square. To implement the project for construction of a skyscraper, all interfering buildings were demolished, and the site was leveled and reinforced with granite walls.

The authors of the project are architects Mikhail Posokhin and Ashot Mndoyants. Their creation is also called the house of aviators: initially, only the most outstanding citizens of the country could get an apartment there, among them were many test pilots, astronauts and workers in the aircraft industry.


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