The idea of opening the monument belonged to Alexander II and was supported by historians. In 1862, the celebration of the millennial anniversary of Russia was expected; it was decided to erect the monument to the Millennium of Russia in Novgorod, thus recognizing its key role in creating the Russian state.
Monument to the Millennium of the Russian Statehood is the first work of Mikhail Mikeshin, at that time still being an unknown graduate of the Imperial Academy of Arts. Numerous figures, moldings, grating and lights were cast in the capital.
The grand opening of the monument was carried out on the 8th of September in 1862. The Emperor Alexander II, his heir and the members of the Imperial House attended the ceremony. Then Novgorod once again became the center of political life of Russia for a few days, its capital.
The monument was placed on the square between the Cathedral of St. Sophia and Government offices. Its height (more than 15 meters) and the immensity of forms allowed to withstand the neighborhood with the ancient and present-day architectural structures. The general solution, accepted by each and every, was that the silhouette of the monument was associated with two important symbols of Russian and Novgorod history. It was Vladimir Monomakh’s Cap, the attribute of the throne, and the Veche bell. The separation of the monument into three levels allowed to translate into sculpture’s language the famous formula of the official doctrine of those times: “Orthodoxy, Autocracy and Nationality”.
In the upper part the Angel, symbolizing Orthodoxy, is blessing a kneeling woman — Russia.
The second level consists of six groups, each of them represents one of the stages of the Russian state development: from Rurik on the south side to Peter I on the north one.
The round high relief at the bottom contains the whole Russian history. 109 figures of the frieze were approved by the Emperor. Figures are grouped: statesmen, military men and heroes, artists, enlighteners.
The fate of the Monument to the Millennium of the Russian Statehood is significant. During the Second World war, when the Nazis occupied Novgorod, the narrow-gauge railway was brought to the ruined Kremlin, and dismantled figures and reliefs of the monument were prepared for shipment to Germany. Soviet soldiers entered the Kremlin and found details of the monument, half buried in the snow. The monument was re-opened on the 7th of November in 1944 after the restoration.
A theatrical performance, dedicated to the 1150th anniversary of the Russian Statehood, was held near the monument.
The report of the Novgorod regional television.