The Golden Gate of Vladimir is one of the monuments of ancient Russian architecture. They represent an element of the city’s defensive fortifications, erected during the reign of Prince Andrei Bogolyubsky. Unfortunately, the Golden Gate in the 21st century is different from the original design, but there are a number of reasons for this.
Golden Gate – description and purpose
The Golden Gate was laid in Vladimir in 1158, and was completed only in the spring of 1164. They served not only as a triumphal arch for the grand entrance of the prince with an army or retinue, but also as a defensive structure. For this, on top of the arched lintel there was a wooden flooring from which it was possible to fire at enemies.
The central part of the structure is a symmetrical arch with a semicircular vault . Its height reached 14 m. For the passage, powerful oak doors, covered with gilded copper sheets, were opened. It was for their yellow sheen that the gates were named Golden. On either side of the arch are massive pylons (towers), and at the top is a small chapel.
An interesting legend is connected with the latter. It says that at the end of construction work, part of the structure collapsed and buried 12 people. Andrei Bogolyubsky prayed for them in front of the icon of the Mother of God, after which the blockage was dismantled and all the workers were found alive. In honor of this event, a chapel was erected.
In the thickness of the southern wall there was a staircase leading to the battle area. Through a passage in the northern wall, one could directly go to the earthen ramparts encircling the city.
How the Golden Gate changed
Over the centuries-old history, the Golden Gate of Vladimir was destroyed by the conquerors, burned, and rebuilt. That is why they came to contemporaries in a slightly different form than they were originally built.
So, the structure sank into the ground by about 1.5 m , and from the time of its construction, it has survived: a base made of stone, hinges for hanging doors, a wooden flooring from a defensive site – fragmentary.
Significant dates and events that influenced the appearance of the building:
- The invasion of the Mongol-Tatars in the 13th century, when they used battering machines during the conquest of Vladimir.
- Second half of the 15th century – renovation of the gate church.
- Restoration work at the end of the 17th century.
- City fire in 1778.
- The end of the 18th century, when the earthen ramparts supporting the building were dug. In the same period, the vault was strengthened, the church was rebuilt (already made of bricks), buttresses were added, and the stairs in the southern wall were replaced.
Interesting fact! The plot of land, which adjoined the southern wall of the structure, was bought by the merchant Kozlov in the 13th century. The surviving part of the earthen rampart, which serves to fortify the city, was named after his name. The height of the Kozlov Wall today is about 6 m. The townspeople consider it a historical monument, which is of no less importance than the gate.
Golden Gate in modern Vladimir
Today, a military-historical exposition is located in the gateway church. It includes:
- a large diorama with light and announcer accompaniment dedicated to the invasion of the Mongol-Tatars;
- military equipment of various times;
- “Gallery of Heroes of Vladimir” – with their portraits, some historical documents, things.
Anyone can visit the exposition in accordance with the opening hours and for a small fee.
The gate skirts two highways, but a free passage through the arch is preserved. This is used by tourists and newlyweds seeking to be photographed against the backdrop of the World Heritage Site.
Every winter Kozlov Val turns into a large hill, and in summer – into a kind of observation deck. Unfortunately, not completely ennobled.
City gate mystery
The main mystery of Vladimir’s sights is the disappearance of the famous gilded doors . They were removed and hidden by the townspeople, not wanting the valuable relics to go to the invading troops of the Mongol-Tatars. The question is, where did they hide the doors that, after centuries, no one could find.
There is a version that the townspeople drowned them in Klyazma. It is also supported by the interest of the Japanese in the river, which was shown in the 1970s. They proposed to the USSR leadership to widen the Klyazma channel and clear the bottom of debris, but as a reward they asked permission to take everything they found. It is possible that the Japanese wanted to find exactly the lost relic.
Interesting fact! The doors of the Golden Gate are recognized by UNESCO as the lost masterpieces of mankind.
According to another version, the golden frames are hidden under the foundation of the attraction. However, nothing is known for certain.
The Golden Gate of Vladimir is a rather modest building in terms of modern architecture. At the same time, it invariably attracts the attention of residents and guests of the city passing by and passing by. The white stone, the unusually located church and the scale of the building leave no one indifferent.