Well in Memory of the Holy Baptism


This view of the Well in Memory of the Holy Baptism (known today as the Magdeburg Rights Column) is from Souvenir of Kiev, an early 20th-century album showing the main sites of Kiev, the capital of Ukraine and at that time one of the most important cities of the Russian Empire. Prince Vladimir Sviatoslavich (958–1015), or Saint Vladimir the Great, converted to Christianity in 988 and encouraged the baptism of the people in Kievan Rus. It is believed that this site at the foot of Vladimir Hill was the major place of baptism. For centuries, bathing in the water from the site was considered a cure for disease. The monument seen in this view was built in 1802–8 to celebrate the return to Kiev of the Magdeburg rights to self-government, which was confirmed by Tsar Alexander I. The Magdeburg Rights (or Magdeburg Law) were named for the measures of self-government achieved in the 13th century by the town of that name in Germany. Kiev adopted a similar measure in the late 15th century but later lost its right to self-government. Designed by architect Andrey Ivanovich Melensky, the monument rests on a pedestal with three arched slits and is topped with a cupola with a cross. The 25 views in Souvenir of Kiev are collotypes, made using a chemically-based printing process widely employed before the invention of offset lithography.

Last updated: February 29, 2012