Lobnoye Mesto

Lobnoye mesto is a 13-meter-long stone platform situated on Red Square in Moscow in front of Saint Basil's Cathedral

Lobnoe place, Moscow
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Its name is derived from the Russian words for «forehead» (lob) and «place» (mesto). In old Russian lob meant a steep river bank.

Saint Basil's Cathedral and Lobnoye mesto (front right) in 1825
pinterest button Saint Basil's Cathedral and Lobnoye mesto (front right) in 1825 Ghirlandajo, Public Domain

The platform, believed to have been constructed in brick in the 1530s, was first mentioned in 1547, when Ivan the Terrible addressed the Muscovites from there. Subsequently, it was primarily used for announcing the tsar's ukazes and for religious ceremonies.

Morning of Execution of Streltsy
pinterest button Morning of Execution of Streltsy Василий Иванович Суриков (1848–1916), Public Domain

Despite a common misconception, the circular platform itself was never a place for executions. Sometimes scaffolds were placed by it, but usually public executions were carried out at Vasilevsky Spusk behind St. Basil's Cathedral.

The Donkey Walk of tsar Alexis (Vyacheslav Schwartz, 1865).
pinterest button The Donkey Walk of tsar Alexis (Vyacheslav Schwartz, 1865). Vyacheslav Schwarz (1838–1869), Public Domain

In Tsarist Russia, during Holy Week, the Palm Sunday procession called 'donkey walk' would end at the Lobnoye Mesto where a depiction of Calvary had been erected. The Tsar himself, on foot to show humility, would lead the Patriarch of Moscow, who was seated on a donkey, in a procession from the city gates to Red Square.

The nearby Monument to Minin and Pozharsky commemorates the events of 1612, when Prince Pozharsky ascended the Lobnoye Mesto to pronounce Moscow free from Polish occupation.

Lobnoe place, Moscow
pinterest button Lobnoe place, Moscow Kopchiowski O.P., CC BY-SA 3.0

In 1786, the architect Matvei Kazakov had the Lobnoye Mesto rebuilt in white stone, while keeping its original location and proportions.