Rostral Columns

Former lighthouses on Spit of Vasilievsky island

Architectural constructions of 32 meters high are situated in the centre of St Petersburg, in the Spit of Vasilievsky island, and are considered as one of the symbols of the city. Rostral columns were established in 1810 and projected by the French architect Thomas de Thomon, who decorated them with rostra, i.e. front parts of ships.

rostral column in St Petersburg

The official opening of the Rostral columns was in 1815. In 19th century the columns functioned as lighthouses of St Petersburg port. One of them showed the way to the Bolshaya Neva, another one – to the Malaya Neva. They were lit up at night and during fog and worked so up to 1885.

The columns represented the power and greatness of the state marine fleet and also referred to the custom of Ancient Rome, when columns were decorated with rostra of defeated trophy enemy ships. Nowadays, the Rostral columns are a monument of naval glory of Russia.

Spiral staircases are situated inside the columns. On the top platform of each column you can see a metal holder where bright torches are lit during holidays and special occasions on St Petersburg, such as Victory Day, New Year and the City Anniversary. Since 1957 the torches have been fired with gas. 

statue under rostral column

The Rostral columns are adorned with prows. The biggest pair of prows is located at the bottom of the columns so that one prow faces Neva, while another one – the Exchange. They are decorated with the figure of the river goddess. The second pair is perpendicular to the first one and has the head of a crocodile, seahorses and fish on it. The third pair of rostra is adorned with the head of merman, whereas the fourth one has the illustrations of seahorses. 

On the pedestal, there are statues by famous sculptures Joseph Chamberlain and Jacques Thibaut. There are two men and two women sculptures that represent the great Russian rivers – the Volga, the Dniepr, the Volkhov and the Neva. 

In total, the Rostral columns were refurbished three times. The last restoration was done in 1998-1999. Practically, each city tour goes through these columns, they are well-seen during a boat tour.

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Information About the Excursion


Rostral columns are open around the clock.

Public Transport

Birzhevaya Ploshchad'
Metro / Subway
Birzhevaya Ploshchad'5М, 10, 191
Universitetskaya Naberezhnaya3М, 7, 24
Birzhevaya Ploshchad'7
Universitetskaya Naberezhnaya1, 10, 11
Minibuses (marshrutka)
Birzhevaya Ploshchad'K-252

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