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Afanasy Nikitin

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The monument to the famous Tver merchant and traveler Afanasy Nikitin, the first European who reached Indian land, was erected in 1955 in his homeland in Kalinin (Tver) city. The Indian Ambassador to the USSR K.P.Sh. Menon attended the solemn ceremony. The project was designed by sculptors S.M. Orlov, A.P. Zavilov and architect G.A. Zakharov. The monument is located in Zavolzhskiy district on the Afanasy Nikitin embankment.

The monument is situated on a large sightseeing platform on the left bank of the Volga River and is a four-meter bronze ship-deck stylized statue on the granite pedestal with the horse head figure in front. The composition shows the well-known merchant and traveler stepping forward with the prince Mikhail Borisovich Tverskoy's safe conduct in his hand (another version says that it is a paper scroll for commercial deals), with a purse of money attached to his belt. Inscription on the bronze board says: "To the brave Russian traveler Afanasy Nikitin in memory of his friendly visit to India in 1469-1472". 

There is a Cathedral of the Ascension of Christ (of the Three confessors) behind the monument to Afanasy Nikitin, a unique cathedral in Tver combining three architectural styles at the same time: Baroque, Classicism and Empire.

In 1468-1475 Tver merchant Afanasy Nikitin traveled to the East countries and left the description of his journey known as "Journey Beyond Three Seas". Via Derbent and Baku he reached Persia, crossed it from Chapakur on the South coast of the Caspian Sea to Ormus on the shore of the Persian Gulf, then by 1471 he reached India by crossing the Indian Ocean. He stayed there for three years.

On his way back in 1474, Nikitin had an occasion to visit the coast of the East Africa, the "Ethiopian land". Afanasy just barely crossed the Black Sea and reached the Crimea at Balaklava. On November 5, he landed in Kafa (Feodosia), the Genoese colonies of Russian merchants. In winter 1474-1475, Nikitin stayed in Kafa where he finished his travel notes. In spring, he went to Tver with Moscow merchants by the Dnieper rout but died on the way to Smolensk. 

His notes indicate author's breadth of vision, friendly attitude towards other peoples and customs of the countries he visited. At the beginning of the 19th Century, Nikolay Mikhaylovich Karamzin found Nikitin's notes in the archives of the Trinity Sergius Monastery included in the Trinity Chronicle. For the first time he published them in 1817 under the author's title "Journey Beyond Three Seas".

The brave merchant is still commemorated in his homeland in Tver. The Central Bank of Russia put in circulation two commemorative 2 rubles coins devoted to the 525th anniversary of the travel and with mintage of 7.5 thousand coins of each type. It should be noted that there are three monuments to Afanasy Nikitin in the world: in Tver city, in India and in Feodosia city.

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