Sphinx in St. Petersburg: overview, description, history, location
St. Petersburg is often called the city-museum. Just walking through the streets of the northern capital, you can endlessly admire the masterpieces of architecture and a variety of sculptures. At every step there are statues depicting the great figures of past times, a variety of animals and mythical creatures. There is also a sphinx in St. Petersburg, or rather, as many as fourteen sculptures depicting a creature with the body of a lion and the head of a man. The most interesting pair of sculptures, installed on the University Embankment. These sphinxes came to Russia from Egypt, according to experts, their age is about 3.5 thousand years.
Who are sphinxes in reality?
The ancient Egyptians considered the lions the most powerful and beautiful animals. These animals lived beyond the valley of the Nile River. Gradually, the tradition of making statues of lions for installation near the tombs and temples. It was believed that such sculptures can protect the holy places from the encroachments of evil forces.After some time, the sculptures of lions began to be made with the head of a man. It is such sculptures that the ancient Egyptians called sphinxes. This word is derived from the ancient Greek sphinx. Remarkably, in Greece, so-called images of recumbent lions with heads and bare breasts of beautiful women were called. In ancient Egypt, the same statues traditionally had the faces of the pharaohs. Each ruler considered it his direct duty to erect at least a few Sphinx sculptures with his own portrait. Such statues depicted the combination of the power of a lion with the mind of Pharaoh. Not an exception and sphinxes in St. Petersburg on the University Embankment. These statues were found near the tomb of Pharaoh Amenhotep III and are believed to have his face.
A piece of ancient Egypt in the northern capital
At the beginning of the XIX century in many European countries there was an increased interest in the culture and art of ancient Egypt. Egyptian motifs appeared in architecture and interior design. And the most affluent citizens could even afford to purchase original items related to the disappeared civilization. It is worth noting that even today, among specialists, there is a debate about what kind of sphinx in St. Petersburg appeared first.But be that as it may, it is the sculptural pair installed on the University Embankment that is the only one genuine. These sphinxes are indeed brought from Egypt. The sculptures are made of red-brown-gray granite. Each of the statues weighs 23 tons. On the heads of the sphinxes are doubled crowns, symbolizing the absolute power of the pharaoh - the king of Upper and Lower Egypt. On the foreheads of the statues you can see ornaments in the form of cobras, according to the ancient Egyptian symbolism, poisonous snakes defended the rulers. There are a lot of hieroglyphs on the sphinxes who moved to Petersburg, these are ancient spells and prayers, as well as full titles and praises of Pharaoh.
History of Petersburg Sphinxes
In the fourteenth century BC were installed near the tomb of Pharaoh Amenhotep III. The magnificent burial of the ruler of antiquity was discovered only in the 1820s. Supervised the excavation is a well-known treasure hunter Greek Atanazi. In 1828 in Alexandria statues were put up for sale. A.N. became interested in unusual sculptures. Muravyov is a Russian traveler and diplomat, he advised the ambassador of the Russian Empire to coordinate such an acquisition with representatives of the highest authorities.A letter with information on the sale of the statues was sent personally to Nicholas I, the emperor consulted with experts from the Academy of Arts and only after their assessment approved this acquisition. The French government also wanted to buy a pair of sphinxes. And only thanks to the revolution of 1830, the statues were sold to the Russian Empire. At the acquisition stage, it was decided that Universitetskaya Embankment would be the place to install the sculptures. In 1832, the sphinxes were sent to St. Petersburg on a ship with the poetic name "Good Hope."
Accomplishment of the embankment opposite the Academy of Arts
In 1832, the embankment in front of the building of the Academy of Fine Arts was actively conducted (today it is Universitetskaya Embankment). Originally planned to install here sculptures of horses, made by Klodt. But after moving to the Northern capital of the ancient Egyptian statues, it was decided to decorate this embankment with them. Architect O. Monferan proposed to supplement the composition with a large-scale sculpture of Osiris. However, he was denied the revision of the waterfront project. Each sphinx in St. Petersburg took its place on the granite pedestal.Some time later the inscription was carved on pedestals: "The Sphinx from ancient Thebes in Egypt was transported to the city of St. Peter in 1832."
Is the curse in the Egyptian sphinxes?
Many ancient legends and mystical stories are connected with the ancient Egyptian civilization. In particular, stories are spread that the tombs of the pharaohs cannot be opened, otherwise the rulers, who disturbed the peace, are waiting for a curse and painful death. Such a belief extends to sphinxes, any images of which are not recommended to be moved, and even less taken away from their native land. Petersburg has always been considered a mysterious and mysterious city. Did the installation of statues created in ancient Egypt affect its atmosphere? Many esoteric experts are convinced that every sphinx in St. Petersburg is not only a colorful decoration of the city landscape. Such statues are attributed special powers. Anyway, an interesting real story happened during the transportation of sculptures. One of the sphinxes fell while loading onto the ship. During this accident, the mast and the side of the vessel were damaged, and the sculpture received only a minor scar on the face.
Twice born and two faced
The most popular modern legend of sphinxes says that stone sculptures daily change the expressions of their faces. If you look at them in the morning, you can call them wise and peaceful. From statues breathes confidence and serenity. But after lunch the sphinxes seem ominous and harsh. To admire these sculptures at sunset is not recommended for impressionable citizens. It is believed that the twice born sphinxes in St. Petersburg, installed opposite the Academy of Fine Arts, can even drive a person with an unstable psyche crazy. And yet, despite this superstition, many tourists come every day in the evening to admire the majestic statues.
Legends of the Sphynx
Among the residents of the northern capital, a joke is popular that "as many sphinxes in St. Petersburg, so many legends are associated with them." And indeed it is. University Embankment is not the only place where you can admire lions with human heads. But at the same time, the sphinxes established here are definitely the most mysterious due to their respectable age and origin.Many people complain about the short-term insanity of the mind during a long stay near the statues. They say that in the immediate vicinity of the sphinxes most often find the bodies of drowned men. According to some rumors, even the staff of the river LOVD do not like to patrol this section of the Neva. And many St. Petersburgers try never to touch the ancient statues and do not take pictures on their background.
Make a wish!
Not only dark superstitions associated with ancient Egyptian sculptures. According to some people, you can make friends with sphinxes. Remember that these mythical creatures are half lions. And a lion is a big cat that always loves affection. It is believed that if you stroke a sphinx, thinking about your cherished desire, it will surely be fulfilled. You can use this magic from time to time. Desirable mystical statues are ready to perform several times for one person. You can ask for help in achieving the goals of any sculptures. Visit not only University Embankment, but also the bridge with sphinxes in St. Petersburg. And you can find all 14 statues of these mythical creatures in St. Petersburg.
How to get to the most famous sphinxes in St. Petersburg?
The exact address of this unusual sights: St. Petersburg, Universitetskaya embankment, house 17. It is necessary to focus on the building of the Academy of Arts. The easiest way to get there by public transport is by metro. You need to get off at Vasileostrovskaya station, then walk towards the Neva to the 6th line. You can walk to the famous statues in about 10 minutes. No other sculpture of the Sphinx in St. Petersburg will make such an impression on you as a couple mounted on the University Embankment. Be sure to visit this place as soon as possible.