The Bronze Horse, or “Le Cheval de Bronze” is a monument to King Louis XIV dating back to 1825 that is located in the center of Lyons, France. It consists of a bronze statue of King Louis riding a horse, on top of a large pedestal that has 2 additional sculptures on either side of it.
The royal architect Robert de Cotte specified that the statue should be placed on a pedestal facing north, so that it could be seen by the high numbers of people passing between the bridges across the Rhône and the Saône.
The statue was built by François-Frédéric Lemot in Paris, It is 5.70 m high and weighs 15 tonnes, and was transported to Lyon in 1825 by 24 horses. It replaced an original statue done by Martin Desjardin that was destroyed and melted down during the French Revolution to create cannons in 1713.
Legend has it that when Lemot realised he had forgotten to include stirrups on the statue, he committed suicide. This is completely untrue, however, as Louis XIV is represented in Roman style, riding bareback and so has no saddle or stirrups.
The two allegories on the Rhône and Saône at its base were created by Guillaume and Nicolas Coustou in 1714. The Rhone is represented by a bearded old man crowned with vine branches on a reclining lion and the Saone by a female figure on a reclining lion, her left arm resting on a trunk.
On July 27, 1966 work was being done for the construction of an underground car park and a box was unearthed underneath the statue, something usually done to mark the installation of the first stone of the new monument. The box contained gold coins, medals, a medallion bearing the effigy of Louis XVIII, and the commemorative plaque for the re-erection of the statue.
During a restoration done in 2023, a small wooden box was found in one of the horse’s legs containing a tube sealed with lead containing a copy of the text of the inauguration speech given by the mayor of the time.