The Friendship of Peoples fountain is one of the main symbols of VDNKh. It was built in 1954, and during the work on the project its name changed more than once. Initially, it was supposed to be called the "Main Fountain", then they decided that the name "Golden Sheaf" would be more suitable. As a result, we settled on the name "Friendship of Peoples".
10 interesting facts about the Friendship of Peoples fountain
- The fountain is surrounded by 16 sculptures of women, each of which symbolizes one of the republics that were part of the Soviet Union. And the number of figures was not a mistake, in 1954, when the work on the creation of the fountain was completed, in the USSR, indeed, there were 16 republics. At that time there was also the Karelian-Finnish Republic, which two years later was transformed into the Karelian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic and entered into the RSFSR.
- The fountain has an octahedral shape measuring 81 by 56 meters. The water surface area is over 4, 000 square meters. Architects KT Topuridze and GD Konstantinovsky worked on the project. The height of the fountain jets could reach 20 meters. In the center is a huge sheaf made of copper. It was supposed to symbolize the prosperity of agriculture in the Land of the Soviets. Indeed, since 1939, the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition was located here, which in 1959 was renamed VDNKh (Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy).
- In 1954 the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition opened after a long break. At the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, it was decided to close the exhibition. Some of the exhibits and equipment were evacuated from the capital, many employees went to the front. In 1945, the commission examined the buildings and came to the conclusion that a serious reconstruction is needed.
Representatives of all the republics of the Soviet Union posed for the sculptors. But, not all of their names have survived in history. It is only known that from Estonia it was the famous ballerina Virve Kiple-Parsadanyan, from Turkmenistan the pianist Gozel Annamamedova, and from Georgia the screenwriter Rodam Amirejibi, the wife of the poet Mikhail Svetlov. Some sources report that Antonina Ivanovna Gladnikova, the wife of Mosfilm production designer Vitaly Vasilyevich Gladnikov, also worked as a model.
- The arrangement of the sixteen figures was not accidental, they stand in pairs in the same order as the ribbons on the USSR coat of arms, symbolizing the republics. The Friendship of Peoples fountain itself is made in the style of classicism and is very reminiscent of the fountains of Peterhof. True, some critics, for example, art critic V.P. Tolstoy, believed that the building was devoid of monumentality, and the national originality of the figures was completely leveled.
- At the beginning of the work, it was assumed that the sculptures would be faced with smalt - colored opaque glass. But, Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin, who did not live one year before the grand opening, made his own adjustments to the project. The leader of the peoples said that one should not skimp on material when creating a monument symbolizing the power of the state. And he ordered to decorate the figures with gilding. For these purposes, about four kilograms of gold were allocated.
- But the copper sheaf represents the three main agricultural crops of the USSR of that time - wheat, sunflowers and hemp. The Soviet Union was the world center for the cultivation of hemp, it is the production of fabrics, ropes, canvas. Probably, if work on the fountain had started during the reign of Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev, corn would have been on this list.
- A pumping station was installed under the sheaf, which supplied 800 jets, from which complex compositions were created. Gradually, the equipment of the fountain was dilapidated, it was no longer turned on at full capacity, therefore, the drawings created with the help of jets became simpler.
- During the years of perestroika and the collapse of the Soviet Union, VDNKh, which began to be called the "fair of socialist vanity, " fell on difficult times. In 1992, VDNKh was renamed VVTs (All-Russian Exhibition Center). Many pavilions were rented out for shops and warehouses. The Friendship of Nations fountain, which required careful maintenance, was in a deplorable state.
- Major renovation began only a few years ago. The restoration of the fountain complex required huge sums. The work continued for several years, and on April 30, 2019, the Friendship of Peoples fountain was launched again. The night color illumination is provided by 250 floodlights. The color scheme changes 16 times within one hour.
- Before the start of the Great Patriotic War, there were small pavilions and a children's cafe on this site. And after the war there were two proposals: to erect a monument to Stalin or a fountain here. As a result, the choice was made in favor of the fountain. Presumably, due to the fact that the era of the "personality cult" was rapidly moving towards its end.