The Alexander Column

Standing at the centre of the great palace square is the Alexander Column, or Monument, named after Emperor Alexander I and dedicated to the victory over Naploean and France in the war of 1812.

This is not only considered a symbol of St. Petersburg but it’s also the world’s highest free-standing triumphal column at an overall height of 47.5 metres. Meaning this colossal structure made of granite rock isn’t fixed at all, but standing only under its own weight which exceeds 600 tons. The architect of this marvel of engineering was Auguste Montferrand, whose creation was hauled up by 2000 soldiers in front of the Winter Palace in 1832 using only ropes and strength of arms. It is incredible that 600 tons was raised in under 2 hours without cranes and modern engineering.

The whole monument is covered with the symbolism of war and demonstrating the Russian Empire’s military might. The pedestal is decorated with bronze bas-reliefs picturing warriors in armour and other figures. The column is topped with an angel trampling a snake, the defeated evil, with a cross. Under the rule of Nicholas I the statue on top was to be remade with the faces of the then-emperor himself, Alexander I, as the righteous angel and Napolean as the defeated snake.

The bas-relief that faces the Winter Palace depicts two symmetrical figures – a woman and an old man. They personify the Vistula and the Neman Rivers which were crossed by the Russian army during the pursuit of Napoleon Bonaparte.

According to a legend, following the opening of the monument, citizens were afraid it could fall and never approached it closely. Then, the architect Montferrand made it his routine practice to walk his dog around the pillar and he kept doing so until his very death. Nevertheless, the citizens finally gave their hearts to the monument and it began to be perceived as a natural centrepiece of the city’s main square and a symbol of the Russian Empire. Tour to st Petersburg