Bronze Horseman

Senatskaya or Decembrists Square is the exact place where the monument to the founder of St Petersburg – Peter the Great, usually called the Bronze Horseman, is situated. The place was not chosen incidentally. It houses the Admiralty, founded by Peter the Great, and the Senate – main legislative organ of Russia. It goes without saying that Bronze Horseman is one of the most famous and the most poetic monument of St Petersburg. It was created according to the order of Catherine the Great as a special tribute to her famous predecessor on the Russian throne, Peter the Great. Another notable fact is that it is the first monument ever put up in St Petersburg. Many tourists wonder why the inscription on the monument is written both in Latin and Russian: Petro Primo Catharina Secunda - To Peter the First from Catherine the Second. The reason is that Catherine the Great was a German princess by birth, that’s why she was eager to establish a line of continuity with the earlier Russian monarchs. The weight of the monument is 8 tons, the height is more than 5 meters.

The statue of Peter the Great was created by the famous French sculptor Etienne Maurice Falconet. In 1766 he arrived to Saint Petersburg and started working on the model of the equestrian statue. Apart from other sculptures, he agreed to get only 2 hundred thousand livres for his work. It is an interesting fact that in the contract, which the sculpture sighed, the huge size of the statue was formulated. To depict the Emperor as precisely as it was possible the sculptor used the plaster death mask and the wax sculptor of the tsar. Orlov trotters Caprice and Brilliant, taken from the imperial stables, posed for the artist. A single piece of red granite molded into the shape of a cliff was used for the construction of the pedestal. The appropriate granite boulder was founded in 1768 on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, in the vicinity of the Lakhta village. The artist tried to create the head of Peter the Great three times but Catherine the Great didn’t like the examples. At last the head of the statue was done by Marie-Anne Colo – Falconet’s student. Russian sculptor F. Gordeev should also be mentioned. He carved the serpent under the horse’s foot.

At the time of monument’s installation the relation of the Empress to Falconet was completely spoiled. Without waiting for the monument to be opened the sculptor, together with Sari-Anne Colo, returned to Paris. On the 7th of August, 1782 the citizens of St Petersburg could see the monument to Peter I. As soon as the Bronze Horseman appeared on the square, it was renamed under the name of Peter. During the siege of Leningrad people tried to save the monument, covering it with sand bags, logs and planks. Nowadays, the Bronze Horseman is remains to be one of the main symbols of Saint Petersburg and is considered the masterpiece of Russian and world culture.

Historical reference

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