Statue of Prince Mikhail Andreas Barclay de Tolly – Riga, Latvia - Atlas Obscura

AO Edited

Statue of Prince Mikhail Andreas Barclay de Tolly

The former Field Marshall and Minister of War to the Russian Imperial Army.  


In the green expanses of Esplanade Park, stands a bronze statue that honors Prince Mikhail Barclay de Tolly, a brilliant military strategist and commander-in-chief of the Imperial Russian Army during the Napoleonic Wars.

The original statue, representing a life-sized Barclay de Tolly in uniform, was unveiled in 1913 to mark the 100-year anniversary of  Napoleon’s defeat during the Russian Campaign of 1812. The statue was melted for military use during World War I. A replica was installed on the original granite pedestal in 2001.

Tolly was born into a noble Baltic German family, who traced their ancestry to the Clan Barclay of Scotland. During the 17th-century, Peter Barclay, a merchant from Towie, Aberdeenshire emigrated to the Baltic region. It’s believed that the Livonian branch of the Barclays were his descendants. 

Following in his father’s footsteps, young Mikhail joined the Imperial Russian Army, steadily rising through the ranks until he was promoted to Field Marshall and Minister of War.

However, despite enjoying royal patronage, he had powerful enemies in St Petersburg. Looked upon as an “outsider” by some and criticized by others for his “scorched earth” policy during the War of 1812, he was relieved of his command. He was subsequently reinstated by Tsar Alexander I and led his army in victories against Napoleon, culminating in the capture of Paris.

Tolly died of ill health in 1818. A statue was dedicated to his memory in 1837, at the entrance of the famed Kazan Cathedral, St Petersburg, Russia

Know Before You Go

Esplanade Park in Riga also has monuments commemorating renowned Latvian poet, dramatist, and politician Rainis, and the first commander in chief of the Latvian Army, Oskars Kalpaks.

Community Contributors

January 29, 2021

Make an Edit Add Photos
Related Places
In partnership with KAYAK

Plan Your Trip

From Around the Web