Red Gate

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For the software company, see Red Gate (company). For the South Korean film, see The Red Gate.
Red Gates in Moscow (from a 19th-century postcard)

Red Gates (Russian: Красные ворота, Krasnye vorota) in Moscow was a triumphal arch built in an exuberantly baroque design. Gates or arches of this type were common in 18th century Moscow. However, the Red Gates were the only one that survived into 20th century. They were demolished in 1928; their name survives in an eponymous Moscow Metro station.

National roots[edit]

Golitsyn Estate Gates, Volkhonka Street, Moscow

The Russian tradition of triumphal arches (or gates, as they were called in 18th-19th centuries) goes back to the time of Peter I. However, their specific Muscovite shape is a direct consequence of the Time of troubles of the early 17th century. Civil war, foreign raiders and rampant crime of that period forced the landlords to fortify their town and country estates. In their simplest form, gates were cut through wooden palisade walls, and fortified with a small defensive platform perched above them. If money allowed, gates were fortified with a barbican tower, again with a raised wooden platform.[1]

In the 18th century, this platform transformed into a raised structure above the main arch. Thus early Russian triumphal arches have a triangular, tri-partite composition (two side pylons and a center piece, square or octagonal, raised above them). Contemporary 18th-century engravings present different variations of the type (notably, Alexey Zubov's 1711 engraving showing troops marching through seven different gates). It is believed that these gates influenced traditional Moscow architects in favor of Petrine Baroque, producing masterpices like the Church of St. John the Warrior.[2]

An extant example of private estate gates following the same layout belongs to the former Golitsyn estate on Volkhonka street (adjacent to Pushkin Museum).

Petrine tradition[edit]

The first true triumphal gates in Russia were installed by Peter I of Russia, intended for his generals' and his own triumphant rides. The earliest are dated 1697 (Capture of Azov) and 1703 (for the early victories of Boris Sheremetev, Anikita Repnin and Jacob Bruce in Great Northern War). Three sets of gates were set in

The second round of triumphal construction, commemorating the Battle of Poltava in 1709, resulted in seven gates being built in Moscow, notably the barbican gate on Bolshoy Kamenny Bridge. The third occasion, the Battle of Gangut of 1714, was celebrated in Saint Petersburg only. Finally, the Treaty of Nystadt was celebrated in both Saint Petersburg and Moscow. Peter's successors (Anna I of Russia, Elizabeth of Russia, Catherine II of Russia) had built various gates, but Red Gates in Moscow were the only ones that survived to 20th century.

History of Red Gates[edit]

Red Gates in the 1840s

The original arch on the site of Red Gates was built to commemorate the Battle of Poltava in 1709. Catherine I replaced it with a new structure in order to commemorate her own coronation in 1724. This arch burnt down 8 years later and was restored in 1742, for Elizabeth's coronation procession, which proceeded from the Moscow Kremlin to the Lefortovo Palace through the edifice.

In 1753, the wooden arch was demolished and replaced with a stone one. The design by Prince Dmitry Ukhtomsky faithfully followed that of Catherine I's architects. This was a refined specimen of baroque sensibility, with red-blood walls, snow-white reliefs, golden capitals, and 15 bright paintings representing "Tsardoms of the Russian Empire", coats of arms of Russian provinces, etc. A large portrait of Empress Elizabeth, surrounded by a lambent halo, was replaced with a double-headed eagle for Nicholas I's coronation in 1825. The structure was crowned by a golden statue of trumpeting angel. Around the gates, a spacious square was laid out.


The Red Gates were renovated in the spring of 1926. However, in December 1926, Mossovet approved demolition of the gates and other buildings, to make way for the Garden Ring expansion. The Red Gates were demolished June 3, 1927,[3] despite protests from Ivan Fomin, Petr Baranovsky and other artists. A statue of an angel and other artifacts were preserved at the Museum of Moscow.

The square was still known as Krasnye Vorota (Red Gates), and in 1935 acquired a Metro station of the same name, designed by Ivan Fomin (underground station) and Nikolai Ladovsky (surface vestibule). In 1953, one of the famous Stalin's skyscrapers was erected on the square to a design by Alexey Dushkin.

The square and station were renamed Lermontovskaya after Mikhail Lermontov in 1962 and were renamed back to Krasniye Vorota in 1986. Proposals to rebuild the arch were rejected, citing traffic congestion and the disparity between the modest size of the arch compared to the present-day width of the Garden Ring. The Angel of Glory, painted black, commemorates the loss of the Red Gates on the official coat of arms of Krasnoselsky District of Moscow. Also, first Moscow professional rehearsal studio was called "Red Gates", in honor of the triumphal arch.[4]


  1. ^ "Moscow. Monuments of architecture. 18th - the first third of 19th century", "Iskusstvo", Moscow, 1975 (bilingual Russian-English edition) pp.19-20
  2. ^ Ibid., pp.20-21
  3. ^ Date as in
  4. ^ Rehearsal studio Red Gates

Coordinates: 55°46′6″N 37°38′59″E / 55.76833°N 37.64972°E / 55.76833; 37.64972