Tag Archives: st petersburg

Things to See in Russia: The Bronze Horseman Travel Attractions 23 FEB 2015

The Bronze Horseman is an equestrian statue of Peter the Great in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Commissioned by Catherine the Great, it was created by the French sculptor Étienne Maurice Falconet. The name comes from an 1833 poem of the same the name by Aleksander Pushkin, which is widely considered one of the most significant works of Russian literature.

The statue is now one of the symbols of Saint Petersburg, in much the same way that the Statue of Liberty is a symbol of New York City (interestingly enough, both were designed and built by French artists).

The statue’s pedestal is the enormous Thunder Stone, the largest stone ever moved by man. The stone originally weighed about 1500 tonnes, and was carved down to 1250 during transportation to its current site.

catherine the great's the bronze horseman statue with its thunder stone in st petersburg russia 1

The equestrian statue of Peter the Great is situated in the Senate Square (formerly the Decembrists Square), in St. Petersburg. Catherine the Great, a German princess who married into the Romanov line, was anxious to connect herself to Peter the Great to gain legitimacy in the eyes of the people. She ordered its construction, and had it inscribed with the phrase Petro Primo Catharina Secunda MDCCLXXXII in Latin and Петру перьвому Екатерина вторая, лѣта 1782 in Russian, both meaning ‘Catherine the Second to Peter the First, 1782’, an expression of her admiration for her predecessor and her view of her own place in the line of great Russian rulers.

(Having gained her position through a palace coup, Catherine had no legal claim to the throne and wanted to represent herself as Peter’s rightful heir.)

catherine the great's the bronze horseman statue with its thunder stone in st petersburg russia 2

In 1775 the casting of the statue began, supervised by caster Emelyan Khailov. At one point during the casting, the mould broke, releasing molten bronze that started several fires. All the workers ran except Khailov, who risked his life to salvage the casting. After being remelted and recast, the statue was later finished. It took 12 years, from 1770 to 1782, to create the Bronze Horseman, including pedestal, horse and rider.

The tsar’s face is the work of the young Marie-Anne Collot, then only 18 years old. She had accompanied Falconet as an apprentice on his trip to Russia in 1766. A student of Falconet and Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Collot (called Mademoiselle Victoire by Diderot) modelled Peter the Great’s face on his death mask and numerous portraits she found in Saint Petersburg.

The right hand of the statue was modelled from a Roman bronze hand, found in 1771 in Voorburg in the Netherlands at the site of the ancient Roman town Forum Hadriani.

catherine the great's the bronze horseman statue with its thunder stone in st petersburg russia 3

The statue portrays Peter the Great sitting heroically on his horse, his outstretched arm pointing towards the River Neva in the west. The sculptor wished to capture the exact moment of his horse rearing at the edge of a dramatic cliff. His horse can be seen trampling a serpent, variously interpreted to represent treachery, evil, or the enemies of Peter and his reforms. The statue itself is about 6 m (20 feet) tall, while the pedestal is another 7 m (25 feet) tall, for a total of approximately 13 m (45 feet).

For the pedestal, an enormous boulder known as the Thunder Stone was found at Lakhta, 6 km (3.7 mi) inland from the Gulf of Finland in 1768. It is considered the largest stone ever moved by man – it was effectively moved 6 km overland to the Gulf of Finland by manpower, rollers, and capstans, then transported by barge up the Neva River to St. Petersburg. According to the fall 1882 edition of La Nature, the stone’s dimensions before being cut were 7 × 14 × 9 m. Based on the density of granite, its weight was determined to be around 1500 tonnes.

(Falconet had some of this cut away shaping it into a base, so the finished pedestal weighed slightly less.)

catherine the great's the bronze horseman statue with its thunder stone in st petersburg russia 4

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bronze_Horseman

Things to See in Russia: Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood Travel Attractions 20 FEB 2015

The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg, Russia. It is also variously called the Church on Spilt Blood and the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ, its official name.

The Church is built on the site where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. It should not be confused with the Church on Blood in Honour of All Saints Resplendent in the Russian Land, located in the city of Yekaterinburg where the former Emperor Nicholas II (1868–1918) and several members of his family and household were executed following the Bolshevik Revolution.

The Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ aka The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood in st petersburg russia 1

Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.

The Church is prominently situated along the Griboedov Canal; paved roads run along both sides of the canal. On March 13, 1881 (Julian date: March 1), as Tsar Alexander’s carriage passed along the embankment, a grenade thrown by an anarchist conspirator exploded. The tsar, shaken but unhurt, got out of the carriage and started to remonstrate with the presumed culprit. A second conspirator took the chance to throw another bomb, killing himself and mortally wounding the tsar. The tsar, bleeding heavily, was taken back to the Winter Palace where he died a few hours later.

A temporary shrine was erected on the site of the attack while plans and fundraising for a more permanent memorial were undertaken. In order to build a permanent shrine on the exact spot where the assassination took place, it was decided to narrow the canal so that the section of road on which the tsar had been driving could be included within the walls of the church. An elaborate shrine was constructed at the end of the church opposite the altar, on the exact place of Alexander’s death. It is embellished with topaz, lazurite and other semi-precious stones, making a striking contrast with the simple cobblestones of the old road, which are exposed in the floor of the shrine.

The Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ aka The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood in st petersburg russia 2

Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg’s other structures. The city’s architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow.

The Church contains over 7500 square meters of mosaics – according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. (This record may be surpassed by the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, which houses 7700 square meters of mosaics). The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day – including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel – but the church’s chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known at the time.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church’s construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million rubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics – the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures – but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.

The Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood

In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac’s Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, the only services were panikhidas (memorial services).

The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.

The Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ aka The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood in st petersburg russia 4

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_the_Savior_on_Blood