Ahh, the monument to Peter the Great (Peter I). This colossal sculpture is perched on a high pedestal right on a man-made island in the middle of the Moskva River, less than a mile away from the Kremlin wall. I have to admit, this 322-foot tall mixture of stainless steel, bronze and copper, kind of clashes with everything around it. But it's fabulous. Absolutely fabulous. It was erected in 1997 as a part of a campaign to remake and modernize Moscow, but the moment it went up so did the protests. Many Moscovites deem it the ugliest sculpture on earth; problem is, millions of visitors agree. (I don't)
This gigantic thing (the eighth tallest statue in the world) depicts the Russian czar in full armor, a map in hand, looking over the bow, standing at the wheel of a ship with furled sails.
It is over the top, impossible to ignore, sensorially overwhelming and as far as I'm concerned, the most memorable sculpture in Moscow.
Rumor has it, the original guy was not Peter the Great and the sculpture was not meant to be for Russia. Its haters say that its creator, Zurab Tseretseli, sculpted this beauty for America's 500-year anniversary and the guy at the wheel of the ship was Christopher Columbus. They also say that when the artist failed to sell his creation to Americans (he tried a few states), he reworked Columbus' face into Peter the Great's and offered the whole thing to the Russians to commemorate 300 years of the Russian navy. And they bought it.
Well, haters can say whatever they want. Some claim that the man looks more like the Terminator, Darth Vader or even King Kong. I don't see the similarities. I confess that when I first saw it, I thought it was Gulliver. But that's just me.