Poklonnaya Gora (Russian: Покло́нная гора́, literally "bow-down hill"; metaphorically "Worshipful Submission Hill"') was, at 171.5 metres, one of the highest spots in Moscow. Its two summits used to be separated by the Setun River, until one of the summits was razed in 1987. Since 1936, the area has been part of Moscow and now contains the Victory Park with many tanks and other vehicles used in the Second World War on display.
Historically, the hill had great strategic importance, as it commanded the best view of the Russian capital. Its name is derived from the Russian for "to bow down", as everyone approaching the capital from the west was expected to do homage here. In 1812, it was the spot where Napoleon in vain expected the keys to the Kremlin to be brought to him by Russians.
Origin of name
Here, in the period of the Golden Horde Russian knyaz met with nods of his suzerain. In the Middle Ages, on an elevated site with bows met Khagan and Khan's ambassadors. In connection with what occurred and the name itself, "bow-down hill", as it was necessary to bow to express humility.
In the 1960s, the Soviet authorities decided to put the area to use as an open-air museum dedicated to the Russian victory over Napoleon. The New Triumphal Arch, erected in wood in 1814 and in marble in 1827 to a design by Osip Bove, was relocated and reconstructed here in 1968. A loghouse, where Kutuzov presided over the Fili conference which decided to abandon Moscow to the enemy, was designated a national monument. The huge panorama "Battle of Borodino" by Franz Roubaud (1910–12) was installed here in 1962. A monument to Kutuzov was opened in 1973.
The Victory Park and the Square of Victors are important parts of the outdoor museum. In 1987 the hill was leveled to the ground and in the 1990s an obelisk was added with a statue of Nike and a monument of St George slaying the dragon, both designed by Zurab Tsereteli. The obelisk's height is exactly 141,8 meters, which is 10 cm for every day of the War. A golden-domed Orthodox church was erected on the hilltop in 1993-95, followed by a memorial mosque and the Holocaust Memorial Synagogue.
On 9 May 1995 the first post-Soviet victory parade was held here, with President of the Russian Federation Boris Yeltsin and Minister of Defence and General of the Army Pavel Grachev in attendance. Commanding the parade was commander of the Moscow Military District Colonel-General Leonid Kuznetsov. This parade was also the first major display of the new post-Soviet army uniforms.
Since the 1980s the hill also includes the monumental museum to the Soviet victory in the Great Patriotic War. The main building of the museum was constructed between 1983 and 1995. 'Hall of glory' holds reliefs of the 12 soviet Hero Cities, on its marmor walls are inscribed the names of several thousand Heroes of the Soviet Union, awarded during the war. 'Hall of remembrance' downstairs contains 'Books of remembrance' with the names of more than 26 million soviet war dead.
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