The statue of Peter the Great, Moscow

The statue of Peter the Great, Moscow
04 July 2016

As you head west from Red Square along the Moskva river, you will no doubt spot a rather prominent statue – the monument to Russian Tsar Peter the Great. The statue was created by Russian-Georgian sculptor Zurab Tsereteli in 1997 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the establishment of the Russian navy.  It stands at 98 metres tall, taller than the Statue of Liberty in New York, and weighs over 1000 tonnes.

Over the years the statue has been referred to as one of the world’s ugliest pieces of public art. It has even been branded “The Moscow Monster”. Peter the Great famously disliked the city of Moscow, even going as far as building a new capital, St Petersburg, over 600km away. Given his contempt for the city, many Muscovites wonder why the statue was placed in Moscow at all.

Peter the Great or Christopher Columbus?

What’s more, there is debate about who the statue was really designed to represent. Rumour has it that the statue was not meant to be Peter the Great at all, but was designed as a monument to Christopher Columbus. However, Tsereteli couldn’t find any city with a connection to Christopher Columbus willing to take it. So instead, he turned to Yuri Luzhkov, his friend and mayor of Moscow for help. Luzhkov rebranded the statue for Moscow – making it commemorate Peter the Great instead. Tsereteli denies this account, so we’ll never know the truth behind the rumours.

Will the statue stay in Moscow?

There has been talk of moving the statue. Some suggested it should be moved to St Petersburg, the city which Peter founded and thought of more fondly than Moscow. Although, it seems that this idea was not met with great enthusiasm there either. A number of smaller Russian cities lacking any tourist attractions have offered to take the statue. However, the estimated cost of moving it could be as much as $10 million. As much as many would like to see the statue gone, few are willing to pay the price.

Lawrence Toye, currently studying Russian at Liden & Denz Moscow

Posted by Lawrence Toye

Привет Everyone! My name is Lawrence, I’m 21, from Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the UK, and I’m pleased to say I’m the new social media intern at Liden&Denz Moscow for the next 5 weeks. This is only my first day in Moscow, so I still have so much to see and take in! I love learning languages and spent last year living in the Middle East and studying Arabic. When I started studying at politics and economics at university last September, I couldn’t resist doing a language course alongside. Even though I could’ve probably picked an easier language, I felt Russian would be the most rewarding. I was right! Despite the frequently confusing grammar, in particular the cases, I thoroughly enjoyed it. As I’ve finished university for the summer, I decided to come here to to Liden&Denz to improve my Russian, and learn more about Russian culture. This is only my first full day in Russia, and I’m really excited to write about my thoughts, insights, and experiences of Moscow and learning Russian.

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