Saint Petersburg is a very beautiful city, there is no doubt about that. But did you know, for instance, that apart from a variety of architectural styles the city streets are full of lions and sphinx. Those are sculptures, of course. Lions in Saint Petersburg vary: they are made of marble and gypsum, copper and cast-iron; and created in Russia or brought from abroad, e.g. China, Israel, Italy. Timing of their creations also differ – from the 18th century and era of Peter the Great up to these days.
Lion is the symbol of bravery and courage, power, authority and majesty. It was fashionable to decorated mansion, parks and squares with sculptures of these animals. The trend came to Saint Petersburg from Europe.
In the ancient and medieval times, it was supposed that lions sleep with eyes wide open. Thus, they could be perfect guards to protects homes from evil spirits. Lion statues were placed at the entrance to temples and palaces. Many lion-guards held a ball in there paws so not to fall asleep.
Quite often, there were two lion sculptures: a lion with a sphere to symbolize the unity of the country, and a lioness with a cub to represent respectable progeny.
Special interest towards lions in Saint Petersburg rose after the movie by Eldar Ryazonov “Unbelievable Adventures of Italian in Russia”.
Check some sights in Saint Petersburg that have lion statues:
- A berth in front of the Admiralty close to the Palace bridge | Lions were created according to the sketches of Carl Rossi in 1832.
- Lions at the entrance of the Russian museum | The parade yard of Mikhailovsky Palace is guarded by the statues of cast-iron lions.
- Golden-winged lions, griffons | Since 1828 the statues by the sculptor Pavel Sokolov have been decorating the Bank bridge crossing the Griboedov canal.
- The Shi Tsa granite lions | Brought from China, these unusual lion statues were placed at the Petrovskaya Embankment in 1907. There is a couple of animals: the lion and the lioness that are to protect the entrance.
- The Samson fountain | One of the well-known fountains in Peterhof. Sculptural group of the fountain Samson tearing the lion’s jaws is an allegory of the victory of Russian army over the Swedish army at Poltava.
- Sphinxes on Universitetskaya embankment | Real ancient Egyptian statues of the sphinxes guarding one of the piers of the Neva and inspiring the students of the Academy of Arts in the center of St. Petersburg
For more interesting facts about Saint Petersburg, book a private guided tour. It is the most effective and knowledgeable way to get to know the city within a limited amount of time. Moreover, such personal excursions are always fun, and the routes can be adjusted according to your interests and preferences.