The Bronze Horseman, the symbol of St. Petersburg, is actually not made of copper, but bronze. The monument was opened in 1782 at the behest of Empress Catherine II. That year marked the 100th anniversary of the accession to the throne of young Peter. And the monument began to be called "copper" only in 1833, with the light hand of Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin, who wrote the poem "The Bronze Horseman". The weight of the monument is 8 tons, and the height is 5 meters.
The famous sculptor Etienne Maurice Falconet was invited from Paris to work on this magnificent monument. For work, he was given two horses from the imperial stables - Caprice and Brilliant. Guards officers reared their horses on the platform, and the sculptor made sketches.
It took the master 12 years to make a plaster sketch of the monument. Several times Catherine demanded to redo the proposed version. But the head of the emperor was made by a young assistant to the sculptor Marie-Anne Colo.
The Empress liked the job, and Marie-Anne received a life pension.
Finding a caster capable of casting such a grandiose figure was also not easy. Emelyan Khailov, a cannon master, decided to take up the job. Together with Falcone, they took a long time to select the composition of the alloy, carried out tests. By the way, it was Khailov who saved the job from collapse. During the casting, the earthen mold suddenly burst, and the red-hot metal flowed to the ground. The workers fled in horror, but Khailov, at the risk of his life, managed to eliminate the leak.
Falcone originally conceived to erect a monument to Peter on a huge granite pedestal. Moreover, granite must be monolithic. After a long search, such a boulder was found 12 versts from the capital. The locals called it "Thunder-stone" because, according to legend, a thunderstorm struck it, leaving a large crack.
Catherine the Second announced that she would pay 7, 000 rubles to anyone who would be able to deliver a block weighing 2, 000 tons to Senate Square. A certain engineer Marinos Karburi took up a risky business. On a huge wooden platform on logs covered with copper, the gigantic stone was sent on a journey. For almost a year, the stone was dragged to the Gulf of Finland, where it was loaded onto a barge. The granite was delivered to the designated place on September 23, 1770. Delighted Catherine ordered to make on this occasion a commemorative medal with the inscription: "Like daring." It is interesting that the monument itself was erected on the stone only 12 years later.
The grand opening of the monument took place on August 18, 1782. Interestingly, Falcone himself was no longer in Russia at that time. He left our country back in 1778. On behalf of Catherine, Prince Golitsin visited him in Europe and presented him with a commemorative medal.
The snake on the monument was no longer made by Falcone, but by the Russian sculptor Fyodor Gordeev. The snake is the third fulcrum and gives the monument more stability.
An interesting fact - Peter points his hand in the direction of Sweden, with which Russia has been fighting for more than 20 years for access to the Baltic Sea. And in Stockholm there is a monument to Karl XII, with whom the Russian emperor was at war. Karl's hand is directed at St. Petersburg.