Alexander Column

Alexander Column

Overview

The Alexander Column also known as Alexandrian Column , is the focal point of Palace Square
Palace Square
Palace Square , connecting Nevsky Prospekt with Palace Bridge leading to Vasilievsky Island, is the central city square of St Petersburg and of the former Russian Empire...

 in Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

, Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

. The monument was erected after the Russian victory in the war with Napoleon's France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

. Named after Emperor Alexander I
Alexander I of Russia
Alexander I of Russia , served as Emperor of Russia from 23 March 1801 to 1 December 1825 and the first Russian King of Poland from 1815 to 1825. He was also the first Russian Grand Duke of Finland and Lithuania....

, who ruled Russia between 1801 and 1825, the column is an interesting piece of architecture and engineering.

The Alexander Column was designed by the French-born architect Auguste de Montferrand
Auguste de Montferrand
Auguste de Montferrand was a French Neoclassical architect who worked primarily in Russia. His two best known works are the Saint Isaac's Cathedral and the Alexander Column in St. Petersburg.-Family:...

, built between 1830 and 1834, and unveiled on 30 August 1834.
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Encyclopedia

The Alexander Column also known as Alexandrian Column , is the focal point of Palace Square
Palace Square
Palace Square , connecting Nevsky Prospekt with Palace Bridge leading to Vasilievsky Island, is the central city square of St Petersburg and of the former Russian Empire...

 in Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

, Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

. The monument was erected after the Russian victory in the war with Napoleon's France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

. Named after Emperor Alexander I
Alexander I of Russia
Alexander I of Russia , served as Emperor of Russia from 23 March 1801 to 1 December 1825 and the first Russian King of Poland from 1815 to 1825. He was also the first Russian Grand Duke of Finland and Lithuania....

, who ruled Russia between 1801 and 1825, the column is an interesting piece of architecture and engineering.

Column


The Alexander Column was designed by the French-born architect Auguste de Montferrand
Auguste de Montferrand
Auguste de Montferrand was a French Neoclassical architect who worked primarily in Russia. His two best known works are the Saint Isaac's Cathedral and the Alexander Column in St. Petersburg.-Family:...

, built between 1830 and 1834, and unveiled on 30 August 1834. The monument — the tallest of its kind in the world — is 47.5 m (155 ft 8 in) tall and is topped with a statue of an angel
Angel
Angels are mythical beings often depicted as messengers of God in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles along with the Quran. The English word angel is derived from the Greek ἄγγελος, a translation of in the Hebrew Bible ; a similar term, ملائكة , is used in the Qur'an...

 holding a cross. The statue of the angel was designed by the Russian sculptor Boris Orlovsky
Boris Orlovsky
Boris Ivanovich Orlovsky , , was a Russian sculptor.Born into a peasant family in Tula, Russia, his artistic talent led to him being freed by his master and sent to the Imperial Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg. After studying in Italy under Bertel Thorvaldsen, he returned to teach at the...

. The face of the angel bears great similarity to the face of Emperor Alexander I.


The column is a single piece of red granite
Granite
Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite usually has a medium- to coarse-grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals are larger than the groundmass, in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic...

, 25.45 m (83 ft 6 in) long and about 3.5 m (11 ft 5 in) in diameter. The granite monolith was obtained from Virolahti
Virolahti
Virolahti is the southeastern-most municipality of Finland on the border of the Russian Federation. It is located in the province of Southern Finland and is part of the Kymenlaakso region. The municipality has a population of and covers an area of of which is water...

, Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

 and in 1832 transported by sea to Saint Petersburg, on a barge specially designed for this purpose, where it underwent further working. Without the aid of modern cranes and engineering machines, the column, weighing 600 tonne
Tonne
The tonne, known as the metric ton in the US , often put pleonastically as "metric tonne" to avoid confusion with ton, is a metric system unit of mass equal to 1000 kilograms. The tonne is not an International System of Units unit, but is accepted for use with the SI...

s (661 tons
Short ton
The short ton is a unit of mass equal to . In the United States it is often called simply ton without distinguishing it from the metric ton or the long ton ; rather, the other two are specifically noted. There are, however, some U.S...

), was erected by 3,000 men under the guidance of William Handyside
William Handyside
William Handyside was a Scottish engineer who was involved in several important construction projects in St. Petersburg.-Biography:...

 in less than 2 hours. It is set so neatly that no attachment to the base is needed.

Pedestal


The pedestal of the Alexander Column is decorated with symbols of military glory, sculpted by Giovanni Battista Scotti.

On the side of the pedestal facing the Winter Palace
Winter Palace
The Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia, was, from 1732 to 1917, the official residence of the Russian monarchs. Situated between the Palace Embankment and the Palace Square, adjacent to the site of Peter the Great's original Winter Palace, the present and fourth Winter Palace was built and...

 is a bas-relief depicting winged figures holding up a plaque bearing the words "To Alexander I from a grateful Russia". The composition includes figures representing the Neman
Neman River
Neman or Niemen or Nemunas, is a major Eastern European river rising in Belarus and flowing through Lithuania before draining into the Curonian Lagoon and then into the Baltic Sea at Klaipėda. It is the northern border between Lithuania and Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast in its lower reaches...

 and Vistula
Vistula
The Vistula is the longest and the most important river in Poland, at 1,047 km in length. The watershed area of the Vistula is , of which lies within Poland ....

 rivers that were associated with the events of the Patriotic War. Flanking these figures are depictions of old Russian armour - the shield of Prince Oleg of Novgorod
Oleg of Novgorod
Oleg of Novgorod was a Varangian prince who ruled all or part of the Rus' people during the early 10th century....

, the helmet of Alexander Nevsky
Alexander Nevsky
Alexander Nevsky was the Prince of Novgorod and Grand Prince of Vladimir during some of the most trying times in the city's history. Commonly regarded as the key figure of medieval Rus, Alexander was the grandson of Vsevolod the Big Nest and rose to legendary status on account of his military...

, the breastplate
Breastplate
A breastplate is a device worn over the torso to protect it from injury, as an item of religious significance, or as an item of status. A breastplate is sometimes worn by mythological beings as a distinctive item of clothing.- Armour :...

 of Emperor Alexander I, the chainmail
Chainmail
Mail is a type of armour consisting of small metal rings linked together in a pattern to form a mesh.-History:Mail was a highly successful type of armour and was used by nearly every metalworking culture....

 of Yermak Timofeyevich
Yermak Timofeyevich
Yermak Timofeyevich , Cossack leader, Russian folk hero and explorer of Siberia. His exploration of Siberia marked the beginning of the expansion of Russia towards this region and its colonization...

 and other pieces recalling heroes whose martial feats brought glory to Russia.
The other three sides are decorated with bas-reliefs featuring allegorical figures of Wisdom and Abundance, Justice and Mercy, Peace and Victory, the last holding a shield bearing the dates 1812, 1813 and 1814. These compositions are enhanced by depictions of Ancient Roman military symbols and Russian armour.

The sketches for the bas-reliefs were produced by Auguste de Montferrand
Auguste de Montferrand
Auguste de Montferrand was a French Neoclassical architect who worked primarily in Russia. His two best known works are the Saint Isaac's Cathedral and the Alexander Column in St. Petersburg.-Family:...

. He coordinated the scale of their compositions with the monumental forms of the monument. The panels were designed to the planned size by the artist Giovanni Battista Scotti. The models were produced by the sculptors Piotr Svintsov and Ivan Lepee, the ornamental embellishments by sculptor Yevgeny Balin. The casting of the bronze was done at Charles Baird
Charles Baird (engineer)
Charles Baird was a Scottish engineer who played an important part in the industrial and business life of 19th century St. Petersburg...

's works in Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

.

Later years


In 1952, according to some recent reports, the authorities of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 secretly planned to replace the statue of the angel with a statue of Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

.http://www.newsru.com/arch/cinema/29aug2002/angel.html A historic iron fencing around the column was demolished during the Soviet period. The fencing was restored in 2002.

See also

  • List of largest monoliths in the world