Peter the Great Statue
Peter the Great statue in Moscow is probably one of the most controversial Moscow landmarks there is. Built by the famous (probably INfamous) Georgian architect Zurab Tsereteli, the monument is supposed to symbolize the greatness and glory of Russia and one of its most famous rulers.
First of all, let's face it - Peter the Great surely deserves to have a statue after him. He was indeed one of the "transformational" Russian leaders to say the least. What he did was truly historical - he made Russia closer to Europe and the West, and he transformed the country into a political and economical superpower.
Peter was cruel, really really cruel, that's true. He didn't limit himself in means to achieve his goals. If he had to forcefully cut beards to country's aristocracy (something that was considered a total disgrace, like breaking samurai's sword in public) - he did it. No matter that people suffered and some even committed suicide - the Western civilization had to be imposed by any means necessary.
You can say that Peter's figure was very similar to Stalin's - both were sure that the ends justify the means, both exercised extreme cruelty when they deemed it necessary, and yet they somehow both also did a lot of good things for their countries.
Yes, Peter was cruel, but on the other hand it was Peter who created Russian Navy, it was him who built St. Petersburg which is considered world's legacy by UNESCO, and he also gave Russia countless other innovations. The question remains - what is worth all the sacrifice?
Peter the Great statue is supposed to symbolize his achievements, and to some extent it's doing its job. First of all, the statue is huge - its height is 98 meters, which is more than 320 ft! If you walk upon Krymskiy Val, you will immediately see the huge figure of Peter once you get close enough to Moscow River - you simply can't miss it.
Peter is standing on board of a ship. Well, in fact he's standing on a pile of ships with his being the biggest. The ships symbolize the Russian Navy - something that was non-existent before Peter the Great.
By the way, Peter has also created Russian army. Well, not really created but rather re-built it using Western innovative approaches. What's funny is that Peter didn't mean to seriously engage in military affairs - it was rather a hobby for him, like a paintball game that he played with his friends.
However, with time he showed more and more interest in his little game, and his toy army gradually transformed into two real military companies - Preobrazhensky and Semenovsky.
Trained by the foreign officers, they became a model upon which the entire Russian army was transformed - and note that Russian army was seriously getting behind the Western armies, a thing that basically made it a sitting duck.
But let's get back to Peter the Great statue. All of that symbolism is great, of course, but when it comes to esthetics, well....see for yourself. One can say that it's a matter of taste, and I agree, but somehow it seems to me (and many, many other Muscovites) that this statue simply doesn't belong there.
Tsereteli was widely criticized for it, by the way. Plus, there are suspicions of corruption, as Moscow's former mayor Yuri Luzhkov preferred Tsereteli's statues over others a little bit too much.
It got to the point where after that Luzhkov was fired, there was some serious talk about taking Peter the Great monument apart or moving it somewhere else. It didn't get to that mainly because the process would be very expensive, but rest assured there were no other serious objections.
On the other hand, I can't really say the statue is ugly. I think Tsereteli has a certain talent, and there's at least some beauty and power in his creation, but it has just too many flaws.
Do I recommend visiting it? Probably yes. Get there, take some pictures and look around - there's much more than just Peter the Great statue. Would I go there again? Maybe for a walk, but not for the statue itself for sure.
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