Russia VIII: More Peter the Great

As if unsatisfied by the previous comparison of Peter the Great vs Peter the Great, I decided to come back with more. Heading south of the Kremlin on the Moscow River, a prominent statue sits on the river bank – one with a great sailor on a tiny ship – standing as one of the tallest outdoor statues in the world.

Strange stories surround this statue created by Zurab Tserateli.
Many have complained about the inappropriateness of this statue in proximity to the architecture around it. Others have identified a lack of relation between the Moscow Fleet to the River. Even more (in fact a common story told when you visit the Moscow River) claimed that the statue was meant to be one of Christopher Columbus! That didn’t quite come as a surprise to me – looking at the composition of attire and action, one would indeed suspect so. So the story goes that Tserateli removed the head of Columbus’ and replaced it with that of Peter’s, leaving the original construct as it was! It may well look a little odd and despite attempts to blow up the statue, it is still worth the visit. Remember to check it out on your next trip to Moscow!

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Russia VII – Peter the Great vs Peter the Great

The Bronze Horseman, which I love to use in my pictures, is an equestrian statue of Peter the Great in St Petersburg, gaining its name from Pushkin’s poem in 1833. The bronze statue sits on a pedestal also known as the Thunder Stone (aka ‘largest stone ever moved by man’) from the Gulf of Finland. The pedestal is made of a single piece of red granite shaped like a cliff where Peter rules Russia; his horse steps on a snake, representing the crushing of enemies. It seemed appropriate that a popularly-known ruler stood as the symbol of the country, having expanded the Tsardom of Russia extensively. The statue, created by French sculptor Etienne Maurice Falconet, showed the outstanding reformer as a hero.

Yet with a turn of the head in a new century, Mikhail Shemiakin created another statue of Peter the Great sitting in a chair, exhibiting no resemblance to what we know of as Peter the Great. This statue contradicted the heroic figure, now presented as a tall, seated figure with a strange sense of serenity. Some have supposedly called it the “Stay-at-home” statue of Peter the Great. While the former was revered, the latter became a good-luck charm – visitors noticed the bright hands and legs of the statue and began to touch it for good luck.

Interesting, isn’t it? Share some stories with me if you know more about this! 🙂

Russia VI: St Petersburg – Peter & Paul Fortress, Russia

Much of Russia’s great architecture was built with Peter the Great’s involvement. This was no exception – the Peter & Paul Fortress in St Petersburg, Russia. The fortress was founded and established by Peter the Great as a protective barrier against Swedish attacks. It also acted as a prison ground for dissidents of the regime. As St Petersburg was the traditional capital of Russia, the fortress is also the burial grounds to several Tsars. The remains are housed within the tall structure none other than the Peter & Paul Cathedral. This old stone Orthodox Church with a golden spire reaches into the skies with an angel holding a cross. As with the significance of bells in Russia, the Cathedral also boasts the world’s tallest Orthodox bell tower at 122metres. Some argue that the zvonnitsa (or bell tower) stands with the Cathedral, hence the Peter & Paul Cathedral should be regarded as the tallest Orthodox Church. Others regard the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow as the tallest Orthodox Church (103metres). Either ways, take a look at the photos and I would encourage all to take a physically-visit Russia to judge for yourselves!

I’ll next share about St Issac’s Cathedral, Kazan Cathedral etc and with Peter the Great taking the centre-stage of most establishments, I’ll like to spend a short time comparing some of his statues. Stay tuned! 🙂

Russia I: St Petersburg – Peterhof Palace

Петерго́ф – magnificent palace with its Grand Cascade, Samson Fountain with a Sea Channel, the Lower Gardens and the Grand Palace. Laid out by Peter the Great, first conceptualized during the Great Northern War, this wonderful architecture has undergone capture by German troops in 1941. Fortunately the palace was restored in 2003 following the celebration of St Petersburg’s 300th anniversary.

Always worth the visit; do not hesitate. I chose to make my way over, and I never for once regretted. These photos, taken over a day or two, cannot do justice to this beautiful palace.

Peterhof Palace, a magnificent wonder of the world today. A toast to Peter the Great and all the wonderful people who continued with its extensions & preservation.