Wandering Camera

Album 324
(Translated by Grif)


Of course, we have visited Decembrists' Square and the Bronze Horseman many times already.
But in this album we will take a detailed look at it, if you get my drift :)


Well, here it is: Decembrists' Square.

It was called Senatskaya (Senate) Square initially, was renamed to Petrovsky Square when the monument was erected, but the new name didn't stick, and so the square remained Senate Sq.

It was renamed to Decembrists Sq. in 1925, to commemorate anti-monarch mutiny of army officers in December 1825. That coup d'etat was brutally crushed by the Czar's army right here, at this very place. Rioters were gunned down with artillery fire, and their bodies were dumped under the ice of frozen Neva. The rest were sent to Siberia.

I guess the square wasn't returned to its previous name only because the new ruling elite considers itself and Decembrists to be alike.

This is a rare case of similarity of early- and later-Soviet official position: both thought of Czar as of anti-freedom, so the uprising was considered as a pro-freedom.

The Bronze Horseman is a monument to Czar Peter the Great, and was set up in 1782. Obviously at that time it wasn't called "The Bronze Horseman" yet, because the poem by A. Pushkin of that title was only created in 1833.

The statue was done by French sculptor Йtienne Maurice Falconet by the order of Catherine the Great (Ekaterina II). We are reminded of it by inscription on the monument itself: "'Catherine the Second to Peter the First".

Interestingly enough, until this piece Falconet was known only in a totally different area: he was making porcelain figurines in Serves manufactory.

Then he was recommended to Catherine II by philosopher D. Diderot.

The statue was cast in bronze, supervised by caster Yemelyan Khailov. Once he risked his life to salvage the casting when the shop caught a fire.


A.S. Pushkin had given very detailed description of the statue in his famous poem.

"The snake of envy, stagnation and venom" is pinned down by the hoof. This is the symbol of defeated enemies. Sculptor F.G. Gordeev is the author of the snake.

Two stallions from Catherine II' stables - Diamond and Caprice - became the models for the horse.

The head of Peter the Great was done by Falconet' student: Marie-Anne Collot.

Moving the boulder for the pedestal. This enormous stone was called the Thunder Stone.

It was found by the peasant Semyon Vishnyakov near the village Lahta, 15km from the city, 6 km inland from the Gulf of Finland. They were dragging and shaping it for full two years. First, it was moved to the beach, and then loaded into 54-meter barge.

The total weight was about 1600 tons.

The Bronze Horseman before the Revolution (beginning of XX century); and removing the protective shelter after the World War II (1945). In 19th century the monument was surrounded by tall fence up to 2 meters high.
(the picture and photo see http://www.nrl.ru  and  http://www.photoarchive.spb.ru)

The statue was put up on the pedestal under Y.M. Felten, after Falconet had already left.

Kunst-camera building across the Neva.

Senate and Synod buildings on Decembrists' Square were built much later than the monument, in 1829-1834. Design by Carlo Rossi.

Construction manager A.E. Shaubert.

Above the arch is the sculptural group "Justice and Reverence" by V.I. Demut-Malinovsky. The next tier of statues is "Geniuses holding the Law". The lower (white) ones are Faith, Wisdom, Truth, etc. (totally 16 statues).

During the Soviet years these buildings were given to the Central State Historical Archives. Now there are attempts to push archive out, but so far it successfully resists.

Galernaya Street is coming under the arch.

Previously we said a lot about the St.Isaac Cathedral, which faces the square with its Northern facade.

It was built in 1818-1858 under direction of Auguste de Montferrand.

High relief above one of four porticos: "Resurrection of Christ”, by French sculptor F. Lemer.

By the way, the cathedral is honoring Peter the Great.

What's the connection?, you might ask. The Czar's birthday coincided with St.Isaac of Dalmatia day (May 30).


I heard that in 1920s kids sneaked up to the upper collonade, where the statues by sculptor I. German are. Also it was mentioned that in 1970s they allowed tourist groups in there. But other people say it's not so.

Today only the lower part is open officially.


Another nice poem (by F. Tyutchev) mentioning St.Isaak's.

In my next album I plan to conclude this winter, which happened to set a record in the number of albums.


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