Bronze Horseman

Medny vsadnik

This is the first monument to Peter I in Saint Petersburg and the most famous symbol of the city on the Neva River. Despite the name, given by the popular Alexander Pushkin's poem of the similar name, the statue is made of bronze.

The concept of the monument was elaborated by such prominent figures as, for instance, Empress Catherine II, Diderot and Voltaire. For three years French sculptor Etienne Maurice Falconet was working on a mock-up for the Bronze Horseman. Catherine II wanted to see Peter I riding a horse, holding a scepter or a staff in his hand like Roman Pope. Sculptor himself thought of the image of the tsar as of the creator and benefactor of his country, wearing simple and light clothes, while the rock-themed pedestal would symbolize all the difficulties Peter I overcame. As the pedestal, an enormous monolith boulder called the Thunder Stone (1,600 tons) was used. It took several months only to get it to the place. And that was a replacement of the biggest monolith in human history! The pedestal is wave-shaped as a reminder of the fact that in was Peter I who gave Russia its access to the sea.

In 1782 the Bronze Horseman was unveiled. The legend has it that the spirit of Peter the Great will protect the city as long as the monument stands. Thus, in 1812 the authorities were considering evacuating the monument. That time a person who is believed to be major Baturin was being haunted every night by the very same dream. In that dream the statue of Peter I came alive and rode towards the palace of Emperor Alexander I. The Emperor went out to meet with his forefather and Peter told him: "Young man, what have you done with my Russia? But as long as I stand on my place, my city has nothing to worry about." After that the Horseman turned his horse back and only the sound of hoofs striking the pediment could be heard. Alexander I was told about that dream. And it is said that this dream was the reason why the Emperor canceled his decision to evacuate the monument during the French Invasion of Russia.

There are few who know that one of the city's most popular symbols is looking at it with "love" in his eyes, as they were made in the shape of hearts! Due to the fact that Catherine II rejected Falconet's designs of sculpture's head on multiple occasions, an apprentice of the sculptor, young Marie-Anne Collot undertook to create the tsar's face. There is a legend that says that she managed to do the work in one night, by that declaring her love to her mentor. By the way, later she even married Falconet's son, but the marriage was unfortunate and soon they got divorced.

Address: Senatskaya Sq. (Senatskaya ploschad)
How to reach: Nevskiy Prospekt, Gostiny Dvor, Sennaya Ploschad, Sadovaya metro stations
Coordinates: 59.936385, 30.302150