When going down the Nevsky Avenue in Saint Petersburg, you’ll certainly cross Anichkov Bridge, and note the remarkable statues of Horse Tamers - very emotional and dynamic ones. The bridge is built over the Fontanka River, one of the canals Saint Petersburg is famous for, considered to be one of the most beautiful in Russian ‘Northern capital’.
When building up the brand new city, the Emperor Peter the Great ordered to construct the bridge of high importance, as long as Nevsky Avenue was then supposed to become the main arteria of Saint Petersburg. And initially, it was done in 1716. The first version of Anichkov Bridge was made of wood. It was quite an ordinary bridge built with the help of engineer battalion led by the lieutenant colonel engineer called Mikhail Anichkov - that’s why the bridge carries his name now. It’s a mistake to think that Anichkov Bridge is named after some ‘Anichka’, a Russian version of the name Anna.
Years after, it was decided to erect a stone bridge instead of the wooden one, which had been renovated a few times. In the 1780s, another bridge with towers, similar to some other Saint Petersburg bridges, such as Lomonosov Bridge, was constructed. It served until the 1840s when it became absolutely unsuitable for hard traffic developed on Nevsky Avenue.
The Anichkov Bridge, as we know it today, was inaugurated in 1842. Towers were gone, but famous Horse Tamers sculptures appeared. Their author was Pyotr Karlovich Klodt, the favorite sculptor of Russian Emperor Nicholas I. Initially, the sculptures of athletes taming horses were intended to be placed on Admiralteyskaya Embankment, or Admitalteysky Boulevard. Circumstances changed, and Pyotr Karlovich Klodt himself suggested to put the statues he created on pedestals at the Anichkov Bridge. The interesting fact is, that when the project was confirmed, two out of four statues for the bridge were given to King Frederick William IV of Prussia by Emperor Nicholas I. Later on, he also presented another two statues to the King Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies.
After all this, in the 1850s, Pyotr Karlovich Klodt created four different statues, depicting various stages of taming a horse. The first one is about the quiet horse, tamed by a man. The second one depicts a horse that is trying to be disobedient. The third one is the most dynamic out of four, as long as the horse there feels untamed, the man is on the ground, and animal celebrates. The fourth, and the last one is the statue of a tamed horse, held by the man.
The modern bridge was renovated several times. For example, it was held at the beginning of the last century, as long as the construction itself was considered not that reliable back then. It suffered from bombardments during the Great Patriotic War. Statues were put out of Anichkov Bridge in 1941 and were placed back in May of 1945, not that long ago before the victory was officially declared. It was decided not to fix the shell marks after the war, to make the history visible. Nevertheless, the Anichkov Bridge was getting older and was renovated during the 1990s once again, and later on, in 2007-2008.
Today, it’s a great place to enjoy the views of Saint Petersburg - probably better by walking, or by getting on a boat ride right along the Fontanka River. The remarkable statues of Horse Tamers, together with the marinistic motifs of the cast-iron decorations, make Anichkov Bridge a place to take unforgettable photos of Saint Petersburg.
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