Proud and magnificent figure of Prince who christened Kievan Rus is placed high on a hill over Dnieper. Saint patron of Kiev has a great cross in his right hand and the prince’s crown in left one. The statue erected on top of the iron-bent brick pedestal made in the shape of a chapel.
Saint Vladimir monument story
Constructing of this iconic statue started in 1840th with the strengthening of the steep slopes of the hill called Vladimirskaya gorka right over the Dnieper. Also a terrace on the slope was built. The famous Russian sculptor Vasiliy Demut-Malinovskiy had proposed a project with the monument on the same place where eight centuries ago the citizens of Kiev (and — symbolically — all of the Russians) was christened by their Prince right in the waters of Dnieper. Emperor of Russia Nicholay I had this project approved but construction were delayed after the protests of archbishop of Kiev: he argued against the building of «pagan» statue in honor of Christian prince who destroyed all of pagan statues. Opposition of the archbishop was softened few years later after the construction of another Christian landmark — St. Vladimir Cathedral — had begun.
The monument was built on an octagon pedestal faced with the relief scenes of christening along and Archangel Michael who is a divine patron of Kiev. At the feet of the statue weaponry, symbols of fertility and torch of education were depicted. Initially the cross of the Prince was illuminated with the gas lamps but later it was changed to electric bulbs, so statue was clearly visible in the night. On the hill around the monument the pathways were formed, placed benches, fountain, even a tea house and it became the favorite place of kievans.
It’s said, Vladimir was barely a nice and kind ruler — he was infamous by the violent nature and the intolerant behaviors, not to mention the huge harem with the nearly three hundred of «wives» just in Kiev’s palace. At the time Kievan Rus had start to become a significant country in the regional politics and prince was actively pushed to modernize his kingdom and choose the state religion in place of the ancient pagan rituals. As it’s told in legends, Vladimir has a choice of Christianity (of Byzantine or Catholic traditions), Islam and Judaism and chooses the first one of them.
In 998 his troops thrown old pagan idols into the river and pushed the entire population of Kiev in shallow waters of Dnieper where the mass christening taken place. In a few years all of major towns of Kievan Rus were christened in the same manner. New centralized religion helped to build a potent kingdom.
Christian Rus became an nearly equal player in European politics and got a strong ally — mighty Byzantine empire. It’s need to be said that not just country had changed with the christening but the Prince too. The new faith made him more humane and tolerant; moreover he introduce a practice to help a poor people — so even the last beggar could came into Prince’s palace and get at least a meal and a small coin.