Sphinx in St. Petersburg: overview, description, location


The beauty and greatness of the city of Neve Neve admire tourists from all over the world. His architectural decoration harmoniously complement the numerous sculptures of animals and mythical creatures - griffins, tritons, sphinxes. They are made in metal and stone, their images adorn the entrances to buildings, descents to the Neva, the facades of houses, squares and parks, bridges. They can be seen in the city center and in remote areas.

Sphinxes - who is it?

The word "sphinx" has Greek roots and is translated as "the spirit of death." In ancient Egypt, they were revered as wise beings who are endowed with the body of a proud lion and the head of a man. The Egyptians often endowed them with portrait resemblance to the pharaohs. Sphinxes were considered demi-gods.


In Greece, they were represented as mythical winged creatures having the body of a lion (or a dog), a woman's head and chest. In Africa, the sphinx was considered a narrow-nosed monkey of the genus of baboons. If you are interested in where the sphinxes in St. Petersburg are located, then you need to read this article. In it we will tell how these exotic creatures got into our country.

Sphinx in St. Petersburg

The appearance of these sculptures in the city has a long history. At the beginning of the XIX century, fashion came to Europe for all the Eastern, and of course, this affected works of art and architecture.

St. Petersburg is no exception. An Egyptian bridge appeared in the city, in Pavlovsk - the Egyptian lobby, there is even an Egyptian pyramid in Tsarskoe Selo. In 1834, sphinxes appeared on the embankments of St. Petersburg, and all thanks to the efforts of A. N. Muravyev. During his trip to the holy places, he accidentally saw interesting sculptural sculptures for sale. Amazing creatures that had the face of a man and the body of a lion struck him. He immediately sent a letter to the Russian ambassador in which he offered to buy them for Petersburg. Then such an acquisition was considered inexpedient, and after the resolution of all bureaucratic difficulties, the Englishman-owner sold them to France.


A little later, in connection with the revolution that began in the country, the French agreed to sell sculptures to Russia. Today, the Sphinx in St. Petersburg is one of the main and recognizable symbols of the city.

University Embankment

Egyptian sphinxes in St. Petersburg were in 1832. At first they stood for two years in the courtyard of the Academy of Arts. It took so much time to build a pier near its walls. Sculptures took their permanent place on the embankment in 1834.

Each sphinx installed here is of rather advanced age - about 3.5 thousand years. Carved figures of syenite. Before moving to St. Petersburg, stone mythical creatures guarded the entrance to the temple in Egypt. The heads of sphinxes are a portrait image of the pharaoh Amenhotep, who was the ruler of two kingdoms - Lower and Upper Egypt.


With the passage of time, the sphinxes lost their attractiveness and gradually collapsed. Sculptures had chins broken off, smudges and black film appeared on the surface. Experts began to talk about the need for urgent restoration.

At the beginning of 2002, thorough and scrupulous work began on the restoration of these ancient sculptures. Gradually, the former beauty and elegance of forms began to return to them. From under the age-old layers of dirt, hieroglyphs appeared on the chest and between the front paws. The flowing scarves became striped, the necklaces on the chest sparkled after polishing. It seemed that in the process of restoration work the gloomy sphinxes looked younger.

Many interesting, sometimes mysterious phenomena are associated with these figures. Residents of the city say that during the day the sphinx in St. Petersburg (on the embankment) can change the facial expression. Calm and peaceful it seems in the morning and ominous - in the evening.

How many sphinxes in St. Petersburg

Undoubtedly, the most ancient statues are located on the University Embankment. In addition, they are the "indigenous people" of Egypt. However, there are other sphinxes in St. Petersburg. Where are these amazing sculptures? There are a lot of them in St. Petersburg. They are located at the entrances of buildings, on bridges, facades of houses, in parks and squares. No one knows their exact number.


The very first sculptures were made for the Stroganov dacha. In 1796, two sculptures made of pink marble were installed there, and in 1908 they were transferred to the courtyard of the Stroganov Palace, which is located on Nevsky Prospect, 17. These figures have female faces, and their heads are wrapped in scarves with falling ends. A headscarf, a crown or a sacred necklace are symbols of authority.

At the end of the 18th century, sphinxes appeared on the Sverdlovsk Embankment, but then they disappeared without a trace. Recreated them in the late fifties of the XX century. The sculptures are made of gray granite. A prototype of their steel sphinxes from the Stroganov Palace. But this is not all sculptures. Let's take a walk around the city and see where these mystical creatures still "settled".

Kiev highway

On the northern side of the Pulkovo Mountains (on the Kiev highway) you can see the fountain, which was built in 1809. The author of the project was the architect Tom de Tomon. At its four corners are four sphinxes.

Egyptian bridge

The ancient bridge with sphinxes in St. Petersburg is well known to the townspeople. In 1826, cast-iron sculptures of mystical creatures by P.P. Sokolov were installed on it.


An interesting point: despite the fact that the Egyptian bridge is “protected” by sphinxes, they cannot be called Egyptian, because on the banks of the Nile, sculptures of these creatures were carved with male faces. The figures of Sokolov have female faces, so they more resemble the Greek sculptures.

Kamennoostrovsky bridge

Another famous bridge in the city. Sphinxes in St. Petersburg, as already mentioned, were often installed near the river. These figures decorated the embankment at Kamennoostrovsky Bridge, on the Malaya Nevka. These are exact copies of the sculptures located on the Egyptian bridge. They were made as a trial, and then simply thrown into the courtyard of a residential building. Quite by accident, the statues were discovered in 1971 and decorated the Malaya Nevka embankment with them. However, the tests of the long-suffering sculptures did not end there: after the flood (1975), they almost completely plunged into the water, and later vandals violated them more than once, even tearing off the crown from one of them. Sphinxes demanded urgent restoration.


The damaged works of art were restored in 2005 and installed near the Mostotrest building. By the means of this company, by the way, restoration works were carried out. Despite the fact that at the gates the sculptures were perfectly safe, in 2010 they were returned to the historic site - Malaya Nevka. These statues are unique because they are the only probes (from the surviving) that were made by the great architect P. Sokolov.

Mining Institute

The most original sphinxes in the city on the Neva appeared in 1826 in the courtyard of the Mining Institute on Vasilyevsky Island. Among the greenery there are two small black sculptures with female heads and surprisingly expressive and noble faces. These are the works of sculptor A. Postnikov.


Robespierre Embankment

The indigenous people of the northern capital are well aware that the sphinx in St. Petersburg is not uncommon. They are admired, they are accustomed to them … Why, for so many years they have decorated the streets of the city! But not everyone knows that these mythical creatures appear in St. Petersburg and in our time. The youngest sculptures are those that were installed in 1995 on the Robespierre embankment - in memory of the victims of political repression.


Two bronze statues are installed on granite pedestals in such a way that they are turned by a usual profile to residential buildings, and in the direction of the Kresty prison - by a corroded skull. On the pedestal are carved lines from the famous works of V. Vysotsky and A. Solzhenitsyn, Marina Tsvetaeva and other authors. Petersburgers believe that every such sphinx in St. Petersburg (on the Robespierre embankment) helps an unjustly convicted person to quickly get home.

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