Monument to Peter I – Saint Petersburg, Russia - Atlas Obscura

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Monument to Peter I

This effigy of Peter the Great is greatly disproportionate. 


The Russian city of Saint Petersburg was named after its founder, Peter I the Great. So it’s no coincidence that several statues featuring the Tsar-Emperor can be found throughout the city, although this one may be the most unique of all.

Simply titled “Monument to Peter I,” the effigy was designed by Russian sculptor Mikhail Chemiakin in the 1980s and cast in bronze in the United States to be donated to the city. At first glance, you can’t help but notice – and giggle at – how the head is much smaller than the rest of the body, in a manner perhaps reminiscent of the “Henry the Hunter” character from the 1988 film Beetlejuice.

Including the granite base, the statue stands (or sits) at 7 feet and 5 inches tall, and as one might expect, the grotesque sculpture was heavily criticized by locals when it was installed in 1991. It was typically guarded to prevent acts of vandalism.

Despite its disproportionate figure, you may see that the statue’s head is actually quite lifelike. And that’s for a reason: it was designed after the life mask of Peter I himself crafted by Carlo Bartolomeo Rastrelli in 1719, who would later go on to create the Emperor’s wax figure. The statue’s elongated body, according to Chemiakin, was inspired by traditional Russian icons.

Know Before You Go

The monument can be found in the Peter and Paul Fortress.

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December 3, 2020

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