Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Vladimir Golden Gate Inkwell

This rare Russian souvenir building and inkwell is part of Scott D’s collection. Made of an aluminum pot metal, it sits atop a painted inkwell base measuring about 8" long and 4" high. On each of the two inkwell covers are dates: 1158 and 1958. The real Golden Gate of Vladimir, Russia, are the only preserved instance of the ancient Russian city gates. Constructed in 1164, the gates were built as an impregnable fortress with massive oak doors and were at one time the main entrance to the City. Golden Gates existed in the holiest cities of Eastern Orthodoxy (Jerusalem, Constantinople and Kiev) On making Vladimir his capital, Andrew the Pious aspired to emulate these structures and commissioned a tower over the city's main gate to be erected in limestone and lined with golden plaques. The main arch used to stand 15 meters tall. The structure was topped with a barbican church.The gates survived the Mongol destruction of Vladimir in 1237. By the late 18th century, the structure got so dilapidated that Catherine the Great was afraid to pass through the arch. In 1779, she ordered the detailed measurements and drawings of the monument. In 1795, the vaults and barbican church were demolished. Using the 1779 drawing, two flanking round towers were constructed in order to reinforce the structure and then the barbican was reconstructed. A museum inside focuses on the history of the Mongol invasion of Russia in the 13th century.

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