The Bronze Horseman

The Monument to Peter the Great

Near the Admiralty, next to the Alexander Garden and Decembrists’ Square, stands the Bronze Horseman. Built by Catherine the Great in honour of her forebear, this monument is regarded as the symbol of St. Petersburg and of Imperial Russia. It took 16 years to build, sculpted by French sculptor Etienne Maurice Falconet, and was erected in 1782.

Of equal, or greater, interest is the rock upon which the statue stands. Known as “Thunder Rock”, it is claimed to be the stone upon which Peter the Great stood on to overlook the terrain on which his city would be built. Its original weight was some 1,500 tons, before being carved for transportation where it still weighed a mighty 1,250 tons. It holds the claim of the largest stone ever moved.

It took new methods of ingenuity to haul the boulder over from the Gulf of Finland to its current location. Using a metallic sledge that slid over bronze spheres over a track, a Greek engineer oversaw the effort. 400 men laboured for 9 months with no animals or machines before hauling it onto a specially made barge supported by two warships to hold it steady. After 2 years of hard work it reached its destination.

The statue became known as “The Bronze Horseman” through a poem written by Alexander Pushkin in 1833 of the same name. The core theme of which was balancing the needs of the state with that of its people.

Decembrists Square

The Bronze Horseman is the centrepiece of this square. Formely known as the Senate Square, the area earned its current name after an uprising against Tsar Nicholas I in 1825 where 80 reformist officers and nobles were killed and many more arrested, executed or sent to exile in Siberia. Its violent past is also one of peace. Pre-1917 revolution it served as a gathering point for lovers and couples. Tour to st Petersburg