Garden of Fallen Leaders

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With the fall of the Soviet Union, citizens’ enthusiasm for statues of Communist leaders in every square and public space waned.   Many of these statues were vandalized or pulled down.   Many of those from Moscow ended up in Muzeon Park across from Gorky Park.  While this initially was a bit of a dumping ground, it has now become a park where the statues are not only displayed but where other sculpture is celebrated.

The park is adjacent to the New Tretyakov Gallery which houses modern Russian art.  We had been searching for a place to view socialist realist and other Soviet art and had found literally none in St. Petersburg so were excited to learn about the New Tretyakov from a poster on Trip Advisor.  And we were even more excited to learn that the Garden of Fallen Leaders was at the same site.  We took the metro from our hotel near Red Square to Oktyabrskaya station (we had spent the previous day visiting artistic metro stations so were comfortable finding our way through the rather complex metro system signed in Cyrillic letters) and then walked to the park.

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The weather was beautiful when we began the journey and we went to the art gallery first partly because there was a huge line and it was hard to get in.  Alas that meant when we finally got out to view the Garden of Fallen Leaders, storm clouds were gathering and so I didn’t have much time to get photos before we were in a downpour without an umbrella to protect the camera.

The park is quite close to central Moscow.  This is the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in the background across the river; it is the tallest Russian Orthodox church in Russia.  The boat glimpsed to the right is a monument to Peter the Great at the confluence of the Moscow River and a canal.  Red Square is not far from here.dsc05623

While the park holds the unloved statues of unloved despots, it has since its founding in the early 90s become the site of other sculpture collections as well.  This plaza contains the works of local artists encouraged to create in limestone. The Peter the Great monument completed in 1997 can be seen in the background.

 

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But the reason we came was to see the discarded statues of Communist leaders.  There are a lot of Lenins.

 

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In the early years statues were often left toppled on the ground and vandalized; recently as the park has become a larger sculpture garden, a boardwalk has been installed so that people can view these historic monuments more easily.

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Here is a sculpture of Brezhnev.

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Another Stalin.  The Stalin at the head of this post has had its nose vandalized; this nose doesn’t seem to have fared well either.dsc05612

I believe this is a statue of Kalinin, the head of state during WWII.

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Behind the vandalized Stalin statue in the area of the park devoted to fallen leaders stands this monument to those who were victims of these despots.  It is a powerful work of art combining roughly featured stone heads behind a wall of barbed wire.

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By the time we were at the monument to victims of the despots it had begun to pour rain and we sought shelter in a bandstand, climbing a ladder under canvas flaps to get the stage.  We shared the space for about an hour and  a half with about a dozen Russians also escaping the downpour.

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While waiting for a break in the rain to make our break for the subway we struck up a conversation with a local architect and an art historian.  It was fascinating to be able to discuss the park, the art museum and Russian and American culture with these charming and engaging people.   He had lots of opinions or art and politics and she spoke good English and thus we passed the time.

We were disappointed not to have more time to explore the park and take pictures but meeting these interesting Russians made up for it.

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