Barclay de Tolly Mausoleum

Helme, Estonia

The Barclay de Tolly Mausoleum commemorates one of the most famous Russian commanders who fought Napoleon in 1812 and 1813 and who culminated his triumph with a march through Paris in March 1814. His family was partially of Scottish extraction but from the 17th century had lived in what is now Latvia and Lithuania. Following the Russian conquest of Finland in 1809, he was the first governor-general there until 1812.

Jõgeveste was the estate of his wife's family and his body was brought back there after his death in East Prussia in 1818. The mausoleum was completed in 1823 on the instructions of de Tolly's wife Eleanor von Smitten. She commissioned Apollon Shchedrin, a leading St Petersburg architect, to design it and its structure has remained intact since then, although the two coffins were opened during World War II. The exterior design suggests parallels to a Roman triumphal arch, the interior to a chapel with an altar recess where the bust of de Tolly is placed. The statue on the right is of Athena, the Greek goddess of war, and on the left the statue of a sitting woman represents the symbol of mourning. Outside are the tombs of de Tolly's son and daughter-in-law and a Soviet memorial to soldiers killed in the 1944 invasion of Estonia.

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Address

Jõgeveste küla, Helme, Estonia
See all sites in Helme

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Jesper Bexkens (10 months ago)
Very quiet place, good memorial. Staff is friendly and extremely helpful. They can explain at great length the history of Barclay de Tolly.
Raivo Teeäär (10 months ago)
Elu kahe maailma piiril. The final resting place of the great Russian military leader.
Andrei J (2 years ago)
This comander played signigicant role in war of Napoleon and Russia in 1812. Open from 10 and cost couple euros to get in.
Sami J. Mäkinen (2 years ago)
Interesting spot with interesting history - and the onsite guide was very nice, knowledgeable and helpful. Thanks!
kristofer mäger (3 years ago)
The only mausoleum in Estonia
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The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

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