The memorial sign “Polotsk – the geographical center of Europe” was opened in 2008 on one of the most beautiful squares of the ancient city of Belarus. In a solemn atmosphere, residents and guests of Polotsk were presented with a memorial sign by sculptor Alexander Prokhorov and architect Ivan Borovik. Alexander Prokhorov is one of the most prominent modern sculptors in Belarus, he has many sights to his credit, including the monument to Vseslav Charodey in Polotsk.
Ivan Borovik took part in the development of the monument as the chief architect of Polotsk. At the same time, the mayor of Polotsk V. Tochilo was given a certificate indicating the exact location of the geographical center of the European continent. This certificate has become a documentary confirmation of calculations based on images from space.
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The full name of this sculpture sounds like “Memorial sign. Polotsk is the geographical center of Europe. The memorial sign is based on the so-called “wind rose”, which in turn indicates the direction of the cardinal points. The second level of the monument is made in the form of the northern hemisphere. It shows a map of Europe, on which its middle is fixed. It also bears numerous geographical and historical symbols.
The meridians are arched and decorated with a fragment of the city’s coat of arms with a three-masted golden sailboat that made the difficult journey from the Varangians to the Greeks. The name “Geographic Center of Europe” is engraved in 5 languages. Around the circumference in Belarusian, from the south in Greek, from the north in Swedish, from the west in English and from the east in Russian. Special plates with their inscriptions report the coordinates of the center of Europe.
How was the center of Europe determined?
The Belarusian geodesists A. Solomonov and V. Anoshko under the guidance of B. Furman were engaged in determining the location of the geographical central point of Europe. Using modern aerospace photography techniques and computer programs, they were able to calculate the exact coordinates. In their calculations, they relied on the fact that Europe is one with all its seas and remote islands. Surveyors from other countries calculated the coordinates of this place before, but they did not coincide with the calculations of the Belarusians.
Employees of the Central Research Institute of Geodesy of Russia rechecked the calculations of Belarusian scientists and confirmed their correspondence to reality. The fact that the memorial sign was installed in Polotsk, and not on the shore of Lake Sho, where the center is located, did not affect its importance in the least. Now any guest of the city, if desired, can acquire a commemorative certificate confirming his stay in the very center of the European continent.
Each guide of the city, who guides tourists around Polotsk, considers it his duty to bring them to the geographical center of Europe. Thus, the new commemorative sign has become an excellent addition to such famous historical sites of old Polotsk as St. Sophia Cathedral, the Lutheran Church and the Fraternal School. It has become one of the main attractions, next to it there are always those who want to touch the center of Europe.