Arc Struve

Many of us vaguely remember the Struve Arc and its importance in the scientific and practical spheres from our school astronomy textbooks. Here you will learn in detail about the enormous significance of this large-scale structure, erected in the 19th century.

What is the Arc of Struve?

The Struve Geodetic Arc is a famous historical monument, which a century ago was invaluable for science. The Struve Arc is well known in the scientific community, it is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Struve Arc is a man-made, complex, structured structure. As of today, only three dozen points remain of it. At the beginning of the 19th century they were recognized by the UN as the world heritage of mankind.

Map of the Struve Arc

Map of Dougie Struve - itinerary by country

This structure was originally erected to create the most accurate geographical maps. It consisted of more than two hundred geodetic points connected in a chain: buried cubes over an area of almost three thousand kilometers.

It was important for the Russian Empire to correctly reflect its vast expanses on maps, so that in the future there would be no conflicts with neighboring countries that could turn into armed clashes. That was the first task.

Later the leader of the construction of the Arc, the Russian astronomer of the first half of the 19th century, director of the Pulkovo Observatory V.Ya. Struve, realized that this Arc could be effectively used to scientifically calculate the exact parameters of the Earth.

The scientific world of the time required the most accurate measurement of meridian magnitude. For this purpose, a gigantic chain of geodetic points was laid out along a meridian of 25 degrees for a length of almost 3,000 km.

The circuit went through the modern Scandinavian and Baltic countries, as well as Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova. It was built and studied by scientists of the Russian Empire for at least 40 years, until the middle of the 19th century.

The Struve Arc in Belarus - a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Russian emperors donated to the construction of this great scientific project – the Struve Arc, rich people of the time provided financial assistance, landlords provided their peasants for the construction.

As a result, with the help of the Arc, the astronomer Struve achieved extremely accurate topographic measurements. They were verified with satellites in the 20th century and confirmed by astronomers, who noted only minimal inaccuracies.

I think originally V.Y. Struve had no idea what gigantic work lay ahead of him, and that his whole life would be spent on a unique astronomical project, similar in scale to some Soviet construction projects.

Even today it is quite difficult to build such an extraordinary structure. Those functions previously performed by the Arc are now assigned to space satellites. They continue to explore the geography of our planet.


The astronomical measurements made by Struve and his colleagues were widely used in science, agriculture, and the military for more than a hundred years. Struve was the first in the world to give the exact size of our planet, and learned a lot about its shape.

Even at that time, scientists were well aware that our planet is not perfectly round, it does not happen in nature. It was necessary to know the real shape more accurately in order to make more correct geographical maps in the future.

The shape of planet Earth

The Shape of Planet Earth - Arc Struve

Doug Struve was invaluable in this. Its data were used to produce the most accurate topographic and navigational maps of the time, which helped military, scientific, and government officials to communicate properly.

Today, these famous geodesic points can be found all along the line of the Struve Arc, in all the stanzas from north to south as it was laid out in the late 18th and first half of the 19th centuries. In Russia there are two such points surviving.

The arc of Struve is characterized by:

  • giant geography;
  • the accuracy of measurements;
  • The international nature of scholarly cooperation, etc.

The exact determination of the size of the Earth with the help of this construction greatly influenced the development of astronomy and other sciences on our planet, and helped mankind to learn about the world around us.

The importance and scale of the Struve Arc in astronomy have been compared to the Mendeleev Table in chemistry. Thanks to this construction, mankind was able to study in detail the geography of the planet, which is extremely important for its further development.


The Struve Arc is two and a half hundred geodesic sections connected to each other in the form of triangles. Each site is combined into a triangular link, consisting of 2×2 meter cubes made of stone or granite.

Various obelisks, stone pyramids, etc. were also used to mark the geodetic point. Soldiers and serfs, surveyors and astronomers, specialists and scientists worked on the construction of this Arc.

The Arc begins in Norway, runs south along the 25th meridian, and ends near Odessa, near Ishmael. In those days, the best minds in Russia worked on the design and construction of the project.

History and Development of Dougie Struve in Belarus

In Belarus, the construction of this remarkable Arc was carried out by soldiers who were supervised by officers of the Russian Empire. And the construction was headed by a well-known cartographer and surveyor of Belarusian origin, General Khodko.

Today there are a large number of geodetic points preserved in the republic, particles of the project of the astronomer V.Ya. Struve. Five of these sites are recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Struve Arc - interesting facts, where is it located

All geodetic points of the Struve Arc are located in Belarus near Grodno and Brest and have names corresponding to the names of nearby villages:

  • Leskovichi;
  • Shovels;
  • Osovnitsa;
  • Dumbasses and
  • Chekutsk.

At present, various volunteers are continuing to search in Belarus and other countries for the geodesic points of the Struve Arc in order to preserve for posterity parts of this great scientific construction.

It is known that in Belarus was built 31 such points, today found and restored only 22 of them. It is home to the largest number of Arc geodetic points found in all ten countries.

Map of Arc Struve in Belarus

Prospects for Dougie Struve in Belarus

I don’t think the preserved and restored geodesic points from the famous Arc in Belarus are a resounding success with tourists. After all, about her and her creator V.Ya. Struve is well known only to astronomers and other scientists.

But it is rejoicing that in Belarus so reverently treat this monument, erected in the glory of science, in the name of scientific reason. After all, the Arc has done much good for mankind. The Struve Arc sites in Belarus are protected by the state.

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