The biggest monument in Europe: Völkerschlachtdenkmal

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Leipzig October 1813. More than 600.000 soldiers from almost all the corners of Europe are about to clash in one of the bloodiest battles in history.

100,000 killed and a century later after the massacre, a massive landmark was erected on the battlefield, not far from the place where Napoleon once issued his orders.

The famous French Emperor suffered here a severe defeat that had to change the fate of the continent, forcing him to abandon his control over Germany.

Monument to the Battle of the Nations
The colossal structure of concrete and granite is 300 feet high (91 meters). In German it received the long and intimidating name of Völkerschlachtdenkmal, but it's also known as the Monument to the Battle of the Nations.

At first it was designed as a memorial to commemorate the end of the battle, viewed also as a victory of Germanic people. This was part of the process that had to help create the spirit of the country, to establish the future state of Germany.

But the winds of the times were blowing in a slightly different direction. The temptation was too obvious, and when they emerged, the Nazis put their hands on the pantheon. The monument soon became the meeting point for Hitler's rallies in Saxony.

The Völkerschlachtdenkmal Monument

Leipzig Monumenten
Völkerschlachtdenkmal (or Völki for the friends) is not an Icelandic volcano, but an imposing landmark of European history. Although to be honest, it looks to me like a jumbo upset vacuum cleaner.
Image by courtesy of Snoopsmaus, the first one by Westend

Leipzig Monument
There is a fantastic view over the city and its surroundings from the monument's platform on the top. At the bottom there is also a pavilion with a museum about the Battle of Leipzig.

Weapons, uniforms, equipment and more illustrate the war time situation, and gives an idea of a soldier's life during that period.
Image by Sandeepsreevalsan

Völkerschlachtdenkmal knights
Who's moving up there? Compare the size of this impressive circle of gigantic knights on the top with a man; I was lucky to catch what it seems an employee doing some maintenance works.

Battle of the Nations
A bit more of history: in 1813 the French army together with regiments from Poland, Italy and some Germanic states (the Confederation of the Rhine), were facing a larger coalition led by Russia, Prussia, Austria, and Sweden.

It was the decisive encounter of the War of the Sixth Coalition. Lithograph by the French painter Carle Vernet

Historical battle recreation
- Paris, we've got a problem.
Images from the historical reenactment to commemorate the 200th anniversary of The Battle of Nations in 2013.
Photos by Bobertson and Westend

Biggest monument in Europe
The facade of the main door is carved with a sculpture of 39 feet (12 m) representing the archangel Michael, that according to the source in Wikipedia is considered as the War god of Germans.
Image by Snoopsmaus

Stone soldier sculpture
After the disaster in 1812 in Russia, Napoleon was not invincible anymore. Leipzig in 1813 was his first defeat in the battle field, Waterloo in 1815 would be the second and the last.
Image by Elena

Battle of Nations Monument interior hall
Inside the crypt, the herculean proportion of four enormous statues sparks your imagination.

They can make you feel inside one of those mythical fortress or dungeons from fantasy literature, like the world of Lord of the Rings or the sets where The Hobbit was filmed.

Colosal statues
The nearly 33 feet (10 meters) figures represent bravery, faith, sacrifice, and fertility, that are the supposed qualities of German people from those romantic times.
Image by Stefano Corso

Völki Leipzig
The passages and corridors inside the pyramid also have their charm.

They can be a bit claustrophobic if there are too many people going up and down. To avoid these situations, an electronic system lets you know when the corridor is free.

Biggest Monument Germany
The dome is often used for concerts and other performances because of its excellent acoustics.
Image by Crosa

Nazis Battle of Leipzig
In 1945, with the fall of Nazi Germany, the monument was the last stronghold in the city for 150 stubborn SS troops.

They were entrenched with ammo and food foodstuffs to last three months. At the end, these fanatics had to be convinced to surrender with the help of heavy artillery.

AntiNazis Front Deutscher Äpfel
Nowadays, civic movements like the satiric Front Deutscher Äpfel (Front of German Apples), are the city's response to neo-Nazis that may try to use the memorial for their demonstrations.
Images by ¡0-8-15! and Daniel Arnold

Aerial view of the memorial
Apparently, during the communist era, it helped the monument to survive the fact that at the end, it was commemorating a war when Russians and Germans fought together against a common enemy.
Image by Philipp

St Alexei's Russian church
If you walk to Völkerschlachtdenkmal from the city center, crossing Friedenspark, you may find a very unusual place for these latitudes: the Russian Orthodox architecture of St Alexei's church, build to the memory of the most than 20,000 soldiers from the Tsar's army that died in the conflict.
Image by MOdmate

Fireworks castle
This last image is from the celebrations Leipzig 1813-1913-2013, when a spectacular show was organized for the double anniversary of 200 years of the Battle of the Nations.
Image by Westend


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