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Monument to Peter I
The reopening of the Poltava Battle museum in 1950 marked a turning point in the fate of the suburb “Swedish grave” which after that event began to turn into the tourist object. On September 23, 1950 the monument to Tsar Peter I was unveiled in front of the museum. The bronze full length (2,04 m) sculpture was created in 1915 by the Estonian sculptor Amandus Adamson for the 75th anniversary of Poltava Petrovsky cadet school. The Tsar was depicted wearing the uniform of the Colonel of the Preobrazhensky regiment. The pedestal of the monument was made of black labradorite by the design of the sculptor Verotsky. When the cadet school was disbanded in 1919 the bronze sculpture was handed to the Central Proletarian Museum of Poltava (now the Poltava Regional Museum named after Vasyl Krychevsky).
Soon after the battle of Poltava Tsar Peter I issued an order to build the Peter and Paul men’s monastery on the battlefield. One of its churches had to bear the name of Saint Sampsoniy, because the battle occurred on June 27th, the day the Saint is remembered and celebrated. However, unlike the church, the monastery was never built on the battlefield.
In 1840, on the proposal of Governor-General Count Stroganov, a contest for the best project of the Saint Sampsoniy Church was announced. The jury recognized the best project created by the architect Joseph Charlemagne. According to the author's plan, the church should be placed on the arches above the common grave of the Russian warriors. In 1841, the project of Joseph Charlemagne was approved by the emperor, provided that the church should be built not above the grave but next to it, to not disturb the remains of the buried soldiers. The foundation of the church was laid on June 27, 1852. The construction work was carried out under the supervision of the local architect Khoruzhenko. The church was consecrated on July 15, 1856. It was a simple five-cupola church built in the Old Slavonic style.
At the end of the 19th century a special local commission considered it necessary to expand the Saint Sampsoniy church. The project of the church reconstruction was elaborated by the architect Nikonov in 1890. The construction work was carried out under the supervision of the provincial architect Neumann. All four walls, apart from the corners, were disassembled and rebuilt into semicircular arches that connected the middle part with side chapels. As a result, the new Saint Sampsoniy Church got a shape of a cross in the plan view. Its brick basement was faced with granite slabs. On the west side a large porch was attached to the church. The floor in the temple was covered with multicolored ceramic tiles. The oak carved iconostasis was designed by architect Nikonov and manufactured in the Astafiev’s wood curving workshop in Moscow. All icons for the church were painted by the artist Malyshev. Walls and domes paintings were created by artist Malashechkin. At the end of September 1895, the reconstruction of the church was completed, and on October 1, 1895 the church was re-consecrated.
On the eve of the bicentenary of the battle of Poltava the Saint Sampsoniy Church has undergone a new change. The local architect Nosov added an entrance part with the bell tower on the top to the church. During the last reconstruction not only an exterior but also an interior has been changed significantly. Walls, overhead vaults, and the central dome drum were covered with highly artistic wall paintings drawn in the style of the famous painter Viktor Vasnetsov.
The old wooden iconostasis was replaced by a marble, single-tiered iconostasis. Columns of the new iconostasis were made of onyx and decorated with nephrite rings, and its cornice was decorated with a Byzantine mosaic.
There are two marble plaques in the narthex saying that the iconostasis and wall paintings were designed and created by the artist Sokol, and all marble works were done by the company “Menzioni”.
The high artistic quality of the wall paintings and iconostasis of the Saint Sampsoniy church on the battlefield, give every reason to affirm that they represent a unique example of the sacral art.
The church was active until 1930 (since 1925 it belonged to the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church). When the church was closed in mid 1930s, its bell tower was dismantled. In 1949, when Poltava was under the German occupation, Saint Sampsoniy church was reopened, but in 1949 it was closed again. The church building was transferred to the Poltava Battle museum to be used as a home for the “Panorama of the Battle of Poltava ", but in reality it was used as a warehouse for storing equipment for Poltava movie theatres. In 1991 the Saint Sampsoniy Church resumed its activity as a parish orthodox church.
Common grave of the Russian warriors
The first monument built on the Poltava Battle field is a common grave of the Russian warriors. The day after the Battle of Poltava, Tsar Peter I ordered the burial of the dead officers and soldiers in two separate graves close to each other. According to legend, Tsar Peter I himself mounted a large wooden cross on the top of the mound.
The first, unrealized attempt to create a monument on the common grave of Russians was carried out on the eve of the centennial of the battle. In 1809 a competition for the best project proposal for the Monument to the Killed Russian Warriors was announced. Many famous architects, among others Giacomo Quarenghi, Luigi Ruska, Petr Pyatnitsky and Vasiliy Stasov took part in the competition. First place won the project by architect Vasіliy Stasov, who used an idea to erect a mausoleum over the last resting place of the fallen warriors, expressed by Poltava local architect Mikhail Amvrosimov. For this project Vasiliy Stasov was awarded the title of academician. However, due to the Franco-Russian war (1812), this project was not implemented.
The monument on the common grave of the Russian warriors was reconstructed in 1828 and 1856, but the most significant reconstruction of the monument took place in 1894. The monument by design of Nikolai Nikonov was manufactured in the Andrew Barinov’s stone cutting workshop in Saint Petersburg. All manufacturing costs were paid by the rich landowner Joseph Sudienko who donated 100,000 roubles on beautification of the area around the common grave. Unfortunately, due to the poor quality of construction, heavy granite cross made of Finnish granite began to subside, so in 1906 it was decided to open the burial mound, reinforce the foundation of the memorial, and build an inner chapel with a spherical vault. In the following year the burial mound was rebuilt, and a small chapel in the name of St. Peter and Paul was constructed inside of the mound. Wall paintings in the inner chapel were created under the supervision of the artist Alexei Sokol. The final reconstruction of the memorial was completed in 1909 on the eve of the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the battle. The chapel was consecrated on September 3rd, 1907.
During 1930s the inner chapel was used by Poltava Pig Breeding Institute as a warehouse for the storage of fuel and lubricants. Due to misuse of the chapel, the wall paintings, altar, and waterproofing were destroyed or seriously damaged. The granite cross cracked at the foot and blackened after the fire in the chapel. The mound was partially reconstructed in 1959. The thorough restoration of the monument was donated by the company «Factor Capital» and completed by the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the Battle of Poltava in June 2009.
The 6,4 meter height mound is crowned with the 7,5 meter height light gray granite cross, mounted on the pyramid, on the western facet of which there is an inscription on the Old Russian language: “Pious warriors shed their blood here on June 27th 1709”. The eastern side of the pyramid bears the following inscription: “Brigadier Felengheim, Colonels Nechaev and Lov, Lieutenant Colonel Kozlov, and Majors Kropotov, Erst and Geldt are buried here. 45 officers, 1,293 privates and corporals, all in all 1,345 Russians are buried here." A carefully crafted granite stairway leads to the top of the monument. This is only common grave of those who were fighting in the Battle of Poltava.
Monument of Glory
In honor of the Great Battle of Poltava there was erected a brick monument, shaped as a column and plastered (1778). The monument was placed in front of Resurrection church, on Mostovaya street (modern Sobornosti street). On the top of the monument there was a ball and two sitting figures dressed in Roman togas. At the monument pedestal there was a plate with engraving scene of the Great Battle, made by St. Petersburg artist Patriky Balabin (1734-1765). At the end if XVIII, because of building of Resurrection church belfry building, the monument was taken down and the plate was given to the church. Today it is a part of the Museum of the Great Battle collection.
The Poltava Governorate was established on February 27th, 1802. The governorate’s capital was in need of being properly rebuilt in conformity with its new status. Poltava architect Mikhail Amvrosimov worked out a new plan for the future development of Poltava, which assumed that the city center is to be located on the place of the former market square just outside the fortress. A few administrative buildings designed by the architect Andreyan Zakharov were built around the edge of the round square.
The Monument to Glory, unveiled in 1811 in the center of the square, became the focal point of this architectural ensemble. The monument to Glory was planned to be opened by the centenary of the Battle of Poltava, but its opening took place only on June 27, 1811. The monument was designed by the local architect Mikhail Amvrosimov, who assumed the Trajan's Column in Rome as a basis for the new monument. The draft of the Glory Monument was sent to Saint Petersburg to be considered by the academician of architecture Jean-Francois Thomas de Thomon, who made some changes connected with the monument’s location in the center of the big square surrounded with relatively not tall buildings.
The square granite pedestal of the monument has the shape of a fortress and is surrounded by a fence of cast-iron swords pointing to the ground as a symbol of peace. The pedestal bears 2 inscriptions: “completed in 1809”, and “June 27th, 1709” - the date of the Battle of Poltava. Eighteen guns are mounted into its foundation. The monument is crowned with a gilded bronze eagle (2.22m height, 3m wingspread) holding arrows in his claws and fastening his eyes towards the battlefield.
All bronze decorations for the pedestal and columns were created by the sculptor Feodosiy Shchedrin under the consultations of sculptors Fedor Gordeyev, Ivan Martos, and painter Grigory Ugryumov. The decorations were cast and embossed by the master Yakimov from the Russian Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg. The cast-iron parts of the column were manufactured in the Lugansk Cast-Iron Foundry under the supervision of the mechanical engineer Moskvin, who also was responsible for the assembling of the column in Poltava. The pedestal of the monument was made of granite blocks that were cut and delivered from Kremenchuk and Keleberda. The construction was supervised by the local architect Mikhail Amvrosimov, who perfected some elements of the monument. The monument has been recorded to the State Register of Immovable Monuments of Ukraine under the number 160010-N (national).
The monument to the place where Tsar Peter I rested after the Battle of Poltava
It is believed that soon after the battle Tsar visited Commandant Kelin, who had rented an apartment in the house of Cossack Magdenko, and rested there for a short period of time. By 1804 this house had fallen into disrepair and was demolished. Before the first visit of Tsar Alexander I to Poltava the first brick pyramidal monument was erected on the site where the house had been located. Alexander’s successor, Tsar Nicholas I, ordered Peter’s repose to be immortalized with a monument that was designed by the architect and painter Alexander Brullov and made using electroforming technology in the workshop of Ivan Hamburger in St. Petersburg.
The monument to the place where Tsar Peter I rested after the Battle of Poltava has the shape of a pyramidal obelisk mounted on a granite stepped pedestal and crowned with a shield, sword, and helmet. The cornice of the pedestal is decorated with four copper garlands of laurel leaves. The monument bears an inscription: “Tsar Peter I rested here after performing his exploits on 27th of July 1709”. Under this inscription there is a high relief depicting two-headed eagle, the symbol of the Russian Empire. Under the eagle there is a high relief depicting a sleeping lion. This monument bore a bronze plate with the inscription: "Erected on June 27th 1849 in the reign of Tsar Nicholas I." It is surrounded by a cast-iron railing, made of eight connected pillars in the form of cannons. The total height of the monument is 7.2m.
Soon after 1921, when the Bolsheviks came to power, the bronze plate was dismantled as were all other reminders of the Romanov dynasty. Early 1930s the monument was almost completely dismantled and moved to some city warehouse where all unmounted decorations, including a bronze helmet, sword, shield, and a sleeping lion, symbolizing the resting Tsar, were kept for a few years.
Under the Soviet power, Poltava was forgotten for a long time. In 1939, an attempt to celebrate the 230-year anniversary was limited to the repair of monuments on the battlefield. The monument commemorated the site where Peter I had rested after the battle was also reconstructed in its original form with the exception of the bronze plate. In 1949 the monument was reconstructed again under the supervision of the Arii-Leon Vaingort, the Chief Architect of Poltava.
The monument to Colonel Kelin, the commandant of the Fortress of Poltava, and its defenders
From April through June 1709 the garrison of the fortress of Poltava led by the Colonel Kelin succeeded in holding the fortress against the Swedish army’s siege. In 1710 he was promoted to major-general in recognition of his battle merits.
The monument to Colonel Kelin, the commandant of the Fortress of Poltava, and its defenders was erected on the site of the former Mazurovskiy bastion (now Pershotravnevyi Avenue) of the fortress through the efforts of General of Cavalry, Baron Alexander Bilderling and sculptor Artemii Ober. Russian historian Petr Krekshin pointed in his book “The diary of the combat actions in the Battle of Poltava” that this bastion was taken by Sweden on June 21-22, 1709 but soon after that it was recaptured by its Russian garrison. Modern Russian researchers have not found any evidence of this event in the documents dated after early 18th century.
Baron Alexander Bilderling was well known not only for his important publications on military history but also for the numerous monuments he designed. He created monuments to the famous geographer and traveler Nikolay Przhevalsky in Saint Petersburg, to Admiral Pavel Nakhimov in Sevastopol, and to the Swedish warriors killed in the Battle of Poltava.
The official opening ceremony took place on June 27, 1909 in the presence of Emperor Nicholas II. Made as granite obelisk on pedestal, the monument was originally crowned with a double-headed bronze eagle which was dismantled soon after the Revolution of 1917. There is a reclining bronze lion on the pedestal that bears the inscription: “To the valorous Commandant of Poltava Colonel Kelin and the glorious defenders of the city in 1709.” On the opposite side of the pedestal there is an inscription relating the events of the siege of the fortress by the Swedish army of Charles XII from April to June 1709. During the German occupation of Poltava in 1941-1943 all bronze decorations of the monument were dismantled and taken to Germany. After WWII the monument was reconstructed in its original form except for the bronze eagle. All inscriptions on the monument were corrected in accordance with the Russian post-war orthography.
Redoubts of the Russian army
To cover the open approach to the plain in front of the camp, Russians built a system of square or rectangular redoubts spaced no more than 150 meters apart (double shooting range of 18th century muskets). Each redoubt was about 50 meters on each side and consisted of a 3 meter high parapet with a 2,5 m deep ditch in front of it, the ditch being surrounded with cheval de frise.
While preparing for the bicentenary celebration of the Battle of Poltava ten obelisks designed by the military engineer Georgiy Lagorio were erected in the places where the Russian redoubts were believed to have been located. These pyramidal concrete obelisks were faced with marble slabs and crowned with two-headed bronze eagles.
For a long time it was thought that these eagles disappeared during the Civil War of 1917-1921, but recent archival studies proved that two-headed symbols of the Russian Empire were dismantled somewhen in early 1930s. In 1939 all old obelisks were replaced with the new ones made of granite (architect Evtushevskiy). Each obelisk is 4.6m high and has an inscription saying where an appropriate redoubt was presumably located.
In 1953, the second redoubt of the right wing of the transverse line was restored.
While getting ready for the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the Battle of Poltava, another redoubt located close to the museum was reconstructed in its original shape.
Latest archeological finds including musket bullets, fragments of cannon balls, pieces of shrapnel, and other artifacts prove that probably the configuration of the redoubts was different. On the maps, which were made with the participation of Tsar Peter I soon after the battle the T-shaped series of redoubts is shown, while on other maps including the map by the Russian General Ludvig Nikolaus von Hallart, the system of redoubts was shown as V-shaped. Thus, the discussion on the configuration of the redoubts and their number still continues.
Monument to Swedes from Russians
Preparations for the huge celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Poltava included the unveiling of the monuments on all memorial places of the battlefield. In 1909 the Government of the Russian Empire decided to erect a monument to the fallen Swedish warriors as a sign of recognition of their military valour and courage. The monument was opened on June 27th 1909 on the site where the right flank of the Swedish Army was presumably located in the Battle of Poltava. The monument was made by design of the General of the Cavalry Alexander Bilderling in the form of truncated granite pyramid (9m. high) crowned with a cross. A bronze plate bears the following inscription: “Let the brave Swedish warriors who perished in the Battle of Poltava on June 27th 1909 be remembered forever”. The inscription was proposed and translated into Swedish by Alexander Bilderling and approved by the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities. The monument to fallen Swedes is fenced by cast-iron pillars connected with a chain.
Celebrations on the occasion of the opening of the monument began on June 25, 1909, with the cross procession from the Assumption Cathedral to the battlefield. Poltava Bishop Ioann served a Mass for the memory of the warriors who died in the battle of Poltava, and sprinkled a monument with holy water. After that delegations that were sent to Poltava by various Russian regiments laid wreaths at the monument. The event was accompanied by fireworks - four cannon shots.
Preobrazhenskiy and Semenovskiy regiments sent their delegations to Poltava to pay a special tribute to the memory of the brave warriors of King Charles XII who were killed in the battle. A big silver wreath that was laid to the monument on behalf of the Semenovskiy regiment bore the following inscription: “In memory of the steadfast and brave Swedish warriors who showed their faithfulness to the King”, whereas the inscription on the silver wreath that was laid to the monument by the delegation of the Preobrazhenskiy regiment said: “In memory of our teachers, whose glory is eternal”.
All wreaths laid to the monument soon were moved to the Peter and Paul grave chapel. Later on they were kept in the Poltava Battle museum. After the Bolshevik coup of 1917 all of them were stolen from the museum. Today the monument to the fallen Swedish warriors is one of the main dominants of the battlefield.
Monument to Swedes from their compatriots
The proposal to erect a monument to commemorate the Swedish warriors who had lost their lives in the Battle of Poltava was raised first in Sweden in 1890 by then Major Claus Grill. As a participant in the Russian-Swedish military exchange program, he had often been to Poltava and met Colonel Ivan Pavlovskiy.
Although his idea to erect a monument to the soldiers who had valiantly fought under Charles XII was welcomed by HM King Oscar II, it also triggered fierce debates in the press. While one group considered the idea to be shameful, others appealed for Christian mercy contending that fallen soldiers deserve a cross to be installed upon their last resting place.
By this time a famous Swedish sculptor Theodor Lundberg had completed a model of the monument and submitted it to the general public. It depicts Mother Swea, Sweden’s national symbol, unfurling a flag over a fallen soldier in the army of King Charles XII with a broken sword in his arm. The inscription on the monument says: "Filiis Pro Patria Occisis”, which means “To the Fatherland's Fallen Sons". Lundberg's project was approved by the top Swedish authorities but instead of being erected on the Poltava Battle field, it was unveiled in front of the Swedish Army Museum in Stockholm on November 6th 1904 in the presence of then King Oscar II of Sweden.
Soon after the dedication of the first monument, 5,000 Swedish crowns were collected from citizens throughout the country to pay for the manufacturing of a big granite stone (6m height, 20 ton weight) in the Vånevik stone quarry in Småland. The second monument was more modest and, like a first one, it was created by design of the sculptor Theodor Lundberg. The same time an exchange with letters between Swedish and Russian governments regarding the construction of the Swedish monument in Poltava began. The sketch of the monument to be installed in Poltava was carefully reviewed and approved by the Russian government.
Theodor Lundberg supervised personally all stone processing work. The following inscription was carved on the stone in both Russian and Swedish: "This stone was erected in 1909 in the memory of the Swedes, who were perished in 1709, by their compatriots."
The Swedish famous businessman Emmanuel Nobel, a nephew of Alfred Nobel, that time was engaged in the exploration and development of oil fields on the shelf of the Caspian Sea. When he got knew, that Swedish community is going to erect a monument to honor the warriors of King Charles XII killed in the Battle of Poltava, he decided to assume financial responsibility for the delivery and installation of the monument. Later on it turned out that the shipping charges exceeded the cost of the monument’s manufacturing in the stone quarry owned by the company “Swedish Granite Industry”. The “Odin” sea shipping company delivered the monument from Stockholm to Riga and then it was transported to Poltava by railway. The installation work was completed a few days before the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Poltava. The monument was installed on one of the three mounds near the village of Pobyvanka, not far from the road from Poltava to Zynkiv. In 1904, the archaeologist Liperovsky examined this mound and proved that the age of the human bones that were discovered there is about 500 years. Ivan Pavlovsky also expressed his doubts on whether the warriors of Charles XII were buried near the village Pobyvanka, because in his opinion the Russian army inflicted the heaviest losses on Swedes near the village of Maly Budyschi but not Pobyvanka.
In the summer of 1911 Carl Bennedich and Frei Rydeberg, two Swedish lieutenants from the Northern Scania Regiment, visited Poltava. They were sent to Poltava by the General Staff of the Swedish army for the purpose of organizing an archaeological survey of the Poltava Battle field to determine the main burial places of the soldiers of King Charles XII.
The excavations, carried out with the active support of Dr. Alexander Maltsev, then the director of the Poltava psychiatric hospital, revealed a large burial ground of soldiers of King Charles XII located from the north side of the hospital, near the so-called "small ravine".
In the report sent by the Swedish officers to the General Staff, it was pointed out that “the unveiling of the Swedish monument on one of the three mounds near the village of Pobyvanka could be apprehended as an instinctual desire to place it as far as possible from the majestic monument on the common grave of Russian warriors. So, it is obvious even for those who are not specialist in the topic, that the decision to erect this monument in the place where it is now located was not based on reliable factual material.”
There is a legend among Poltava’s inhabitants saying that every year at the day of the Battle of Poltava with the first rays of the sun an image of a grieving mother appears on the granite surface of the Swedish monument.
The Obelisk at place of crossing the Vorskla River by Russian troops
Another memorable place connected with the Battle of Poltava was also marked with the monument in 1909.
On June 16, 1709, the main body of the Russian army crossed the Vorskla River at three fords approximately 12 km north of Poltava, and set up a fortified camp near the village Semenovka. To commemorate this event, a concrete obelisk, crowned with a double-headed bronze eagle (dismantled somewhen in 1930s), was unveiled in 1909 on top of a hill on the right bank of the Vorskla River close to the village Semenovka. In 1959 this monument was replaced with a new granite obelisk designed by architects Shmulson and Pasichny. The inscription on the monument says: "The place where the Russian Army crossed the Vorskla River at three fords on June 20, 1709.”
Memorial Rotunda in honor of fallen participant of the Battle
In observance of the celebration of 300th anniversary of the battle of Poltava in June 2009, the rotunda in memory of the warriors perished in the Battle of Poltava was solemnly unveiled near the Poltava Battle museum.
The rotunda, triangular in plan, was created in the classical style and crowned with a cupola and cross, deprived of all confessional indications to be interpreted as a common Christian symbol. There is a bell under the cupola.
The ground under the dome has a somewhat convex surface. In the center of the ground there is a sculptural composition “Pigeons on pedestal” as a symbol of the souls of the fallen warriors (sculptor Seiran Margaryan). This symbol contrasts with the heavy bronze images of predatory eagles and lions on the Poltava Battle monuments unveiled in the city in 1811, 1849, and 1909. Three pillars of the monument are decorated with mosaic flags of the Russian Federation, Sweden, and Ukraine created by artist Leonid Totskiy. Below the flag each pillar bears the inscription “Time heals all wounds” in the appropriate language. The monument was created by design of the architect Valery Tregubov, who is the author of the project "The Concept for the development of the National Historical and Cultural Reserve “The Battle of Poltava field”, elablorateded by him during 2002-2007.
The second fortified camp of the Russian army
On the eve of the battle, the Russian army redeployed to the area near the village of Yakivtsi, where the second fortified camp was built on June 25, 1709. It was rectangular in shape but open at the rear, overlooking the Vorskla River. It is consisted of seventeen fortifications: two bastions, two half bastions and thirteen redans, connected with each other by 3 meter high earth ramparts. In front of all ramparts there were 3 meter deep ditches. The second fortified camp played an important role in the concentration of the entire Russian army on the eve of the Battle of Poltava and its transition from defense to the offensive on June 27, 1709.
During 1853-1854 a part of the Russian fortified camp was reconstructed by the efforts of the cadets of Poltava Petrovsky cadet school under the guidance of Ivan Kollert, an officer and a teacher of mathematics.
In the same place in 1880s a sport summer camp of the cadet school was located. A plot of land for this camp was purchased by then Poltava Bishop Illarion. Obviously due to this, the place where the fortified camp of the Russian army was located was not damaged by farm work. Some earthworks were reconstructed in 1909. After the revolution of 1917 Bolsheviks established there a concentration camp where they kept so-called “bourgeois element”
During the Battle of Poltava, Tsar Peter I was in the second fortified camp of the Russian Army. In 1973 a big granite monument (width 3.15m, height 0.74m) designed by the architect Gumich was unveiled in the place where the command post of Tsar Peter I was believed to has been located.
The museum offers a number of different excursions that will be interesting for both adults and children