Iconic symbol of St. Petersburg – the Bronze Horseman

14 August 2013

Situated behind St. Isaac’s Cathedral (Исаакиевский собор) on Senate Square (Сенатская площадь) stands the famous monument of Saint Petersburg, the Bronze Horseman (Медный всадник). The empress Catherine the Great commissioned the French sculptor Étienne Falconet to design the statue. Finally unveiled in 1782, the work of art took 12 years in total to complete and stands upon the Thunder Stone (Камень-гром). This is claimed to be the largest stone ever moved by man, when it was taken from its original location near the Gulf of Finland.  The statue serves as a tribute to the visionary Tsar Peter the Great (Пётр Великий), who founded St. Petersburg in 1703. The Bronze Horseman only came to get its name some years later in 1833, when the celebrated Russian poet Alexander Pushkin (Александр Пушкин) wrote a poem under this title.

The statue depicts Peter the Great, positioned on a rearing horse with his arm outstretched, pointing towards the Neva. Trampled beneath his horse’s feet is a snake– this is regarded as a symbol of evil and Peter’s enemies.  Written on the Thunder Stone in both Latin and Russian is: Catherine the Second to Peter the First, 1782 (Петру перьвому Екатерина вторая, лѣта 1782). Catherine aimed to link their names for ever in history as she, like Peter, also had a very European outlook and aimed to expand the Russian Empire. So be sure to visit this stunning tribute to the great Tsar during your time in St. Petersburg.

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