The Bronze Horseman, an impressive monument to the founder of St Petersburg, Peter the Great, stands on Senatskaia Square, facing the Neva River and surrounded by the Admiralty, St Isaac's Cathedral and the buildings of the former Senate and Synod - the civil and religious governing bodies of pre-revolutionary Russia.
The monument was built by order of the Empress Catherine the Great as a tribute to her famous predecessor on the Russian throne, Peter the Great. 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 Catharina Secunda - To Peter the First from Catherine the Second.
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.