Saint Petersburg:

The Alexander Column

The Alexander Column

Located on one of the most beautiful squares (the Palace Square) the Alexander Column is considered one of the most incredible monuments and potent symbols of Saint Petersburg. It is made to honor a grand victory of Russia over Napoleon. This monument is one of the highest monuments in the world. It is 47.5 meters tall and its weight is 600 tons.
 The column is made from a single piece of red granite. This is the work of art of French architect Auguste Montferrando (he was also a main architect involved in a project of building Isaac Cathedral in Saint Petersburg), built between 1830 and 1834. On the top of the column there is a statue of an Angel holding a cross and points to the sky with his right hand. The figure of an angel is sculpted by Boris Ostrovsky.  It is said that the face of an angle was shaped to look like a face of Tsar Alexander I. This monument is considered an architectural marvel because the column is not attached to any base, but is kept in an upright position only by its own weight instead. One may not see from below, but the statue of an angel rests on a snake which symbolizes the triumph of the good against the evil. The Alexander column may seem very plain but if our visitors do tend to be dumbstruck with awe before it, they will realize that each decoration of the column is dedicated to the Russian Tsar Alexander I and the great Russian victory over Napoleon and his troops.
The pedestal is dotted with statues, facing the Winter Palace, of an old pail and a woman leaning on an urn. Those symbols represent the two rivers, Vistula and Nieman, that the Russian army crossed while they were ‘snapping at the feet’ of the Napoleon troops. On the Admiralty side of the column there stand allegoric figures that depict Peace and Justice, Wisdom and Abundance, Victory and Peace. These figures glorify the great Russian victory (the figures are works of art of the sculptors Ivan Leppe and Peter Svintsov based on the designs of Giovanni Scotti).

Interesting facts

  • The local Russians tend to believe  that a married couple would have as many children as the number of times they are willing to go around the Alexander Column in circles.
  • According to the popular belief that the French King Louis Philippe asked the Tsar Nicolay for a column like the Alexander one. The tsar response however was rather diplomatic in that he said that he simply refuses to send anything smaller out of mere courtesy, yet he could not afford a similar one and even more so a larger column is simply not possible to get.
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