The Bronze Horseman and Decembrists Square
The statue of Peter the Great on his horse, is set on a huge slab of granite and was commissioned by Catherine the Great to honour her father. Being a German princess by birth, she was eager to establish a line of continuity with the earlier Russian monarchs. For that reason an inscription on the monument reads in Latin and Russian: Petro Primo Catarina Secunda - To Peter the First from Catherine the Second.
The statue is the focal point of Decembrists Square, so named to commemorate the five leaders of the ‘Decembrists’ that were hanged in the Peter & Paul Fortress in 1825.
This equestrian statue of Peter the Great, created by the famous French sculptor Etienne Maurice Falconet, depicts the most prominent reformer of the Russia state as a Roman hero. The pedestal is made of a single piece of red granite molded into the shape of a cliff. From the top of this "cliff" Peter gallantly leads Russia forward, while his horse steps on a snake, which represents the enemies of Peter and his reforms.
According to a 19th century legend, enemy forces will never take St. Petersburg while the "Bronze Horseman" stands in the middle of the city. During the Second World War the statue was not taken down, but was protected with sand bags and a wooden shelter. In that way, the monument survived the 900-day Siege of Leningrad virtually untouched.
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