Discover the history behind this iconic Red Square statue, which was erected to celebrate a 1612 victory over Polish forces.
The Minin and Pozharsky Monument might look familiar, but you probably won’t know the epic story behind it. The sculpture depicts two men, Prince Dmitry Pozharsky and a butcher named Kuzma Minin, who were instrumental in defeating the invading Poles. Visit this enduring symbol of Russian power and learn more about the two men it honors.
Created by architect Ivan Martos, this statue first graced Red Square in 1818, although the events it memorializes happened much earlier, in 1612. During the early 17th century, the Polish attacked Russian troops, but Russian leaders Minin and Pozharsky rallied their men to victory. Note the positioning of the sculpture on the square. It once sat directly in the middle, but it was in the way of Communist gatherings and was moved to the fringes instead.
The monument now stands outside St. Basil’s Cathedral. At about 30 feet (9 meters) tall, it is an arresting sight from any point on the square. Inspect the detail of the monument’s bas-reliefs, which will tell you more about the story of Minin and Pozharsky. One scene depicts Novogorod’s men being offered as soldiers and another shows Poles trying to escape from the victorious Russians. Look for an inscription chiseled into the stone in Russian. This translates as: “To Citizen Minin and Prince Pozharsky, from a grateful Russia.”
Turn your gaze skyward to see the two men who are the centerpiece of the sculpture. Minin, the butcher, is handing a sword to Pozharsky. He also gestures toward the Kremlin, but his eyes are fixed intently on his comrade. Pozharsky, meanwhile, looks into the distance while holding a shield bearing an image of Jesus.
The Minin and Pozharsky Monument is located on Red Square, which hosts several other top Moscow attractions, such as the political power house of the Kremlin and Lenin’s Mausoleum. Take the metro to Ploshchad Revolyutsii to reach Red Square.