September 26, 2022

HBD, Famous Orb


HBD, Famous Orb
A summer view of a monstrous landmark. VisitNovgorod.com

One hundred and sixty years ago September, one of Russia's most strikingly unusual monuments was erected: the fastidious and orb-shaped Millennium of Russia.

A granite-plinth-mounted bronze monstrosity weighing over a hundred tons and located in the medieval Kremlin of Veliky Novgorod, the landmark fastidiously portrays major events from throughout Russian history in individual characters as well as reliefs. Political and military leaders appear alongside cultural icons like Pushkin and Gogol.

The monument was constructed in 1862 to coincide with the one thousandth anniversary of the initial founding of the Russian state in 862, the date traditionally regarded as when the Viking adventurer Rurik settled in what is now Veliky Novgorod and took on the role of a local leader. His relatives would eventually come to rule many of the oldest Russian cities.

The tsar himself at the time of construction, Alexander II, presided over the opening ceremonies.

The Millennium of Russia incorporates a good deal of symbolism that reflects a traditional Russian view of the motherland: the orb, a piece of imperial regalia, is topped by a massive cross, below which kneels a female personification of Russia, in the process of being anointed by an angel. Peter the Great strides forward confidently, and Rurik himself gazes above a shield marked "6370": 862 by the Byzantine calendar.

Ivan the Terrible is, notably, absent.

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