Narva Triumphal Gate
Returning to Russia after their victory over Napoleon’s armies, the soldiers marched triumphantly through the wide archway of Quarenghi’s gate. In the 1820s, the architect Vasily Stasov designed a new gate of stone and metal to replace the weather-beaten wooden one, largely preserving Quarenghi’s composition. The site for the road was selected on the Peterhof road.
The main architectural and historical sight in the Narva square (Strike Avenue, or Prospekt Stachek in Soviet times), the Narva Triumphal Gate, was built to commemorate Russia’s victory in the 1812 war. It is one of many Saint Petersburg’s monuments celebrating the glory of Russian arms. The gate, designed by Giacomo Quarenghi, was originally constructed of wood. Alexander I generously remunerated the architect for his work by awarding him an order and bestowing upon him the title of honorary citizen of Russia – and Quarenghi really appreciated it.
In 1811, when Napoleon’s army and the Italian forces were preparing for their campaign againt Russia, the viceroy of Italy ordered all Italians working in Russia to return to their homeland, including the architect Giacomo Quarenghi. But Quarenghi, who considered Russia to be his true homeland, refused to return to Italy and had therefore his Italian citizenship revoked and condemned to death in absentia. So the architect lived and worked in St. Petersburg to the end of his days.
The traveller who leaves St. Petersburg by the Riga Gate will pass under the " Triumphal Arch of Narva" before leaving the south western outskirts of the city behind him. This massive gateway of metal is surmounted by a co lossal group, representing Victory drawn in a car by six steeds, and holding aloft laurels and other insignia of triumph in war. The arch commemorates the safe return of the troops of the Czar after the occupation of Paris by the Allies in 1815.
John Geddie, The Russian Empire, 1920
In 1834, a single-span stone archway was completed. It was faced with sheets of copper and decorated with columns, and in its composition imitated the ancient Roman triumphal arches. The gate was considerably more attractive than Quarenghi’s. Besides the chariot of Victory, which formerly crowned the arch, Stasov decorated his structure with allegorical figures of Glory, inscriptions recording the guards regiments that had become famous in the war, and the sites of great battles. Once he had worked out his project, Stasov suggested erecting statues of Mikhail Kutuzov and Mikhail Barklay de Tolli between the columns on the piers of the archway, but subsequently he rejected his idea. Instead of sculptures of the military leaders he introduced into the arch’s ornamentation figures of ancient Russian warriors holding out laurel wreaths. The monument was badly damaged in World War II by German bombing, and was carefully restored in the post-war years.