Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, who suffered from atherosclerosis, did not survive the fourth cerebral hemorrhage and died on January 21, 1924. However, the country’s leadership decided not to bury, but to preserve the body of the “leader of the world proletariat.”Especially for this, a tomb was built on Red Square in Moscow – the world famous Lenin’s Mausoleum. It has become one of the key attractions of the Russian capital and the architectural ensemble of its central square.
The embalming of Lenin’s body
After his death, Lenin’s body was traditionally embalmed for a short period and an autopsy was performed to establish the exact cause of death. Academician A. Abrikosov, who did not expect that the body would be stored for decades, used the usual composition of formalin, glycerin, ethyl alcohol and several other components.
Also, during the autopsy, he cut all large vessels in Lenin’s body, which later became one of the main problems in the development of a new embalming composition.
After all the procedures, the “leader” was transported to Moscow. The coffin was installed with him at the House of Unions, so that everyone could say goodbye to the deceased. The safety of the body for the next few days was ensured by the works of A. Abrikosov and the severe frosts that were then in the capital.
Interesting fact! There was a guard of honor at the coffin, which changed every 10 minutes. In total, it was visited by 9000 people.
It is not known for certain what prompted the country’s leadership to preserve the body of V.I. Lenin. Either the numerous requests of the working people, or the desire to consolidate the state ideology and increase the authority of the ruling elite. As a result, the funeral was repeatedly postponed due to the inexhaustible stream of people saying goodbye to the leader of the world proletariat.
When it became impossible to do this further due to the inadequate state of the body, anatomist V. Vorobiev and biochemist B. Zbarsky were involved in the work on long-term embalming . It is thanks to their labors that the body of V.I.Lenin survived for decades.
The first wooden mausoleum
To bid farewell to Lenin, it was decided to build a temporary mausoleum on Red Square. The order for its construction on January 24, 1924 was received by the architect A. Shchusev. He was given only 3 days to work, noting that the construction should be solemn, but not pretentious, fitting into the architectural ensemble of Red Square. It took Shchusev only one night to develop the project, after which he began construction.
Arkhangelsk pine was used as the main material , and black oak was used to create decorative elements. About 100 people were involved in the work, to whom volunteers periodically joined. The stepped pyramidal structure and the laconic inscription: “LENIN” made the building recognizable.
Entrance and exit from the mausoleum were equipped in two separate annexes. The main square was occupied by the Funeral Hall, where the body of Vladimir Ilyich was located. For the interior decoration, red fabric with black stripes was used, against which the symbols of the communist movement – the hammer and sickle – were placed.
Interesting fact! The funeral hall turned out to be too small to accommodate everyone who wanted to say goodbye to Lenin. In addition, the constant congestion of people significantly increased the temperature in the room and negatively affected the state of the body.
The first mausoleum was built not only for farewell to Lenin, but also for his further burial. However, after the decision on long-term embalming was made, the need arose for a new, more capital structure.
Second wooden mausoleum
After the decision was made on the long-term preservation of Lenin’s body, the mausoleum was closed, setting up a laboratory there for Zbarsky and Vorobyov, who were developing a “recipe” for a new embalming solution. At the same time, the government of the country made a decision to build a new mausoleum.
A variety of projects were proposed for implementation, up to fantastic ones, which were rejected due to inconsistency with the architectural ensemble of Red Square. As a result, A. Shchusev was again assigned to work on the project. He faced an even more difficult task than the first time. The mausoleum was to become not only a burial vault, but also a platform for performances, a monument.
According to the architect himself, he was looking for suitable structures throughout the history of architecture. As a result, I settled on the already chosen stepped pyramid , only increased its size and equipped it with a tribune. Construction and finishing works were completed at the end of May 1924. A public garden was laid out around the mausoleum and surrounded by a lattice.
In parallel with the erection of the tomb, work was underway on the crystal sarcophagus designed by K. Melnikov. The main task of the design was to protect Lenin’s body from negative external influences, changes in the microclimate in the room.
The second wooden mausoleum was inaugurated on August 1, 1924 and operated until 1929.
Lenin’s stone mausoleum
In January 1925, by a decree of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR, an international competition for projects of the stone mausoleum of Lenin on Red Square in Moscow was announced. The deadline for submission of works expired in April 1926. During this period, 117 applications were submitted.
It was assumed that the competition for the projects of the mausoleum will be three-stage: at the first stage, they will choose an idea, at the second, its design in drawings and diagrams, and at the third, a model. As a result, the work was again entrusted to A. Shchusev, who developed a new project based on previous drawings, and then created a model based on it.
According to the terms of the competition, certain requirements were imposed on the mausoleum :
- architectural coordination with Red Square and the walls of the Kremlin;
- an impressive view for the masses of people gathering in front of him;
- the presence of a powerful tribune for an orator, a central hall with a tomb, and auxiliary rooms of a museum nature.
The construction of the tomb, designed by Shchusev, lasted 16 months. For the work, they used natural stone – granite, black labrador. In search of suitable material, the architect toured several quarries in Ukraine, Karelia and the Urals. A suitable black labrador was found only in the Zhytomyr region.
Interesting fact! According to the project, the skeleton of the mausoleum is made of monolithic reinforced concrete elements, the space between which is filled with bricks. Only the facing is made of stone.
Most of the monoliths used have a weight of 1-10 tons, the only exception is the stone under the inscription: “LENIN” (48 tons) and the pedestal for the sarcophagus (20 tons). To transport the largest stone block, a special cart was built, and a platform for transporting submarines was also used.
Architectural features of the building and interior
Lenin’s Mausoleum is an atypical structure with a number of architectural features:
- the length of the building along the facade – 24 m, height – 12 m;
- the pyramidal part consists of 5 ledges of different heights;
- the part crowning the tomb is displaced towards the Kremlin wall;
- the podium for speakers is located on the first ledge of the building;
- the entrance to the mausoleum is emphasized by two projections;
- each letter of the laconic inscription: “LENIN” is inscribed in a square.
Lenin’s mausoleum looks laconic, but not simple. It is a monumental, majestic structure, seemingly hewn out of a single piece of granite.
The interior is no less laconic than the facade. The main room is the funeral hall with a stepped ceiling . The combination of red porphyry and black labrador on the walls gives the impression of waving red flags.
In the center of the Funeral Hall there is a pedestal with a sarcophagus in which Lenin’s body lies. From above it is covered with a stepped stone slab, and on the sides it is decorated with bronze banners – military and labor. There is nothing more remarkable and distracting from the “leader” in the room.
You can get to the Funeral Hall from the lobby along the left staircase, and go back to Red Square on the right.
Interesting facts about Lenin’s mausoleum
You can visit Lenin’s Mausoleum on Red Square for free. However, no one will lead a tour there and tell the history of the building. In the Funeral Hall, they strictly enforce the silence and so that visitors do not linger at the sarcophagus.
You can learn interesting facts from the history of the building on a guided tour of Red Square or at the Lenin Museum. Some of them are surprising and even frightening.
- In 1973, the sarcophagus in the Funeral Hall was made bulletproof .
- In the period from 1953 to 1961, Stalin’s embalmed body was also located in the mausoleum.
- Under the foundation slab, a sand cushion is poured, which excludes vibrations of the structure even when a column of tanks passes through Red Square.
- A whole scientific laboratory is engaged in maintaining the microclimate in the sarcophagus.
- In 1941, Lenin’s body was evacuated to Tyumen. Together with the sarcophagus, laboratory staff and special equipment went there.
- During the Second World War, the mausoleum and the Kremlin were disguised with coarse cloth with simple houses painted on it. This saved the tomb from German aerial bombardments.
- The mausoleum has repeatedly suffered from acts of vandalism. They smashed the sarcophagus, blew up improvised devices, spilled ink, shot at Lenin’s body.
- In the laboratory of the tomb, the bodies of foreign political figures – Ho Chi Minh, Kim Il Sung and others were embalmed.
It is impossible to remain indifferent to Lenin’s mausoleum, while it is not at all necessary to be a communist to go there. All you need is a desire to see one of the most unusual sights of Russia and touch the pages of its history.