In 1911 and 1912, in connection with the centenary of the 1812 Napoleonic campaign against Russia, Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) photographed areas along the invasion route. Among them was the Vitebsk region, including Polotsk, first mentioned in medieval sources for the year 862. Located at the confluence of the Polota River with the Daugava (also known as the Western Dvina), Polotsk was absorbed into the Russian Empire in the late 18th century as a result of the Partition of Poland. The town witnessed battles in August and October 1812. The victory over Napoleon was commemorated at various Russian battle sites through a series of iron monuments commissioned by Tsar Nicholas I in 1835 and designed by the Saint Petersburg architect Antonio Adamini. Seen here is the Polotsk monument (24 meters high), begun in 1847 on a square in front of the Cathedral of Saint Nicholas and dedicated in 1850. Crowned with an onion dome and cross, it closely resembled a monument dedicated in Smolensk in 1841. Prokudin-Gorskii used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire. Some of Prokudin-Gorskii’s photographs date from about 1905, but the bulk of his work is from between 1909 and 1915, when, with the support of Tsar Nicholas II and the Ministry of Transportation, he undertook extended trips through many different parts of the empire.