President Vladimir Putin has joined thousands of enthusiasts recreating a 200-year-old battle that led to the fall of Napoleon and the rise of Russian patriotic fervour.
He watched as mounted actors re-enated the Battle of Borodino, a key battle in the French-Russian war, which claimed 70,000 lives and was glorified in Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace.
Napoleon sent French troops into Russia at the height of his powers in June 1812.
But the invasion ended in December with his starved and freezing army retreating from Moscow.
Mr Putin's government spent at least £700,000 on the re-enactment, which is being seen as not only a celebration of Russian history, but also its current military resolve.Around 3,000 actors staged the famous battle
His chief of staff had earlier urged officials to use the occasion to expand "the patriotic education of youth" and the whole of the day-long performance was aired live on state TV.
It crowned weeks of celebrations that kicked off when 23 Cossacks on horseback began a two-month march on Paris on August 12.
"Our goal is to make this glorious bicentennial a truly national celebration that inspires people to feel pride for their country and the great feats of our ancestors," said Sergei Ivanov, the head of the presidential administration.
The defeat of Napoleon remains a powerful source of pride for Russians, and the authorities have seized on its significance as a symbol of Russia's strength.
It marks "a glorious page in Russian history, and the government believes it must take advantage of this," said journalist and popular historian Vitaly Dymarsky.The battle led to the defeat of Napoleon's forces
He added: "Russia's national peculiarity is its sense of being a fortress under siege, of being surrounded by external enemies, and even by a 'fifth column' hiding inside it."
Mr Putin has made the increasingly powerful Russian Orthodox Church a major part of the festivities as he seeks to cement its place in Russian society.
His strategic use of nationalism has served him well since he rose to power in 1999, a period in which he has remained Russia's most popular and dominant politician.
But it has also hampered his relations with the US and UK, while dividing parts of Europe over how to handle its neighbour.