Lions and more
We choose lions for St-Petersburg because we think that lions correspond to the soul and image of the city. There are many lions in stone and bronze on the avenues, on the fronts of the magnificent buildings, in the undercover corners of the city and in the historical suburbs. You can meet lions literally everywhere – just remember a wonderful comedy “Incredible adventures of the Italians in Russia”.
“Lions on duty” which were made by architecture Rossi to decorate the main entrance of the Elagin palace in St-Petersburg became the prototype of the lions-participants of the action. Bronze lions from the “Lions cascade” in Peterhof are the prototype for these lions. Lions on the Elagin island were the first cast-iron “lions on duty” in St-Petersburg. Their twins stand near the building of the Russian Museum. They were made according to the same model and looks like the lions from the “Lions cascade” in Peterhof.
Lions near the Bezborodkow’s Dacha
Polustrovo is the place near the Sverdlovskaya embankment and Piskorevskiy prospect. In XVIII cent. springs of pure mineral water were founded there. Its healing power was recognized that time. Near that place there was a farm which belonged to a patron and a literary man G. A. Kushelev-Bezborodko. The main building which remained till our days was rebuilt in 1783-84 according to the project of D. Kvarengy. The front garden, which situated near the house with the spirit of the traditional Moscow farm, is separated off the embankment with the unique fence. This fence is the figures of 29 lions with iron chain in their mouths. Each lion seats on the square circumcise pedestal, which stands on the common foundation.
There are many stone and cast-iron lions in St.-Petersburg and most of them are “lions on duty” with forefoot on the sphere. (“Two lions on duty lifting up forefoot’s looks like alive”). Behind the lions there is a normal fence with vertical rods which separate lions off the building.
Lions on the Dvortsovaya landing
The history of these sculptures inseparably linked with the history o the embankment and Admiralteyskiy boulevard. At the beginning of the XIX cent. a boulevard was made near the Admiralteystvo and people could walk near the Neyva river. It was decided to finish the boulevard’s borders near the river with the granite landing places. In 1820-1824 the erection of the landing places was started according to the engineer A. D. Gotman’s project. The eastern landing was named Dvortsovaya and western landing – Petrovskaya. In 1832 the Dvortsovaya landing was decorated with lions and vases. Lions were coined of the sheet-iron in 1832 on the Alexandrovskiy iron foundry in Petersburg. Two porphyry vases were made in Sweden on the famous lapidary foundry and were sent to Russia in 1830 as a present from Swedish king. Before it these vases stood in Tavricheskiy palace. At the time of building of the Admiralteyskaya embankment (1872-1874) two vases were carried to the Petrovskaya landing because they prevented from the thoroughfare. When it was decided to built the Dvortsovskiy bridge (1914-1916) the landing place was carried down-stream of the river opposite the eastern pavilion of the Admiralteystvo. Lions also were transferred. Standing on the granite pedestals they are the magnificent decorative adornment of the wide granite slope to the Neyva river.
Lions on the Liteyniy prospect
There are two stone lions near the little “pagoda” near the Liteyniy prospect. Typical Asian lions at the same time look like “Shi-Tzu” and lions on the Sennaya square. These lions are the part of the “Chinese garden of friendship” which was presented to the 300 anniversary of the city by the city administration of Shanhay. “Garden of friendship” is the diminished copy of the Shanhay’s garden – “Yu yuan” (“The garden of pleasure”). Lions and other basic materials were brought from Shanhay. The main part of the work was made by 17 Chinese who came to St. -Petersburg. The building was finished in 2002.
“The bridge of 4 lions” is the first name of this bridge, because of decorative sculptures of lions, which act as protectors of the entrance to the bridge from the Griboedov’s Canal bank. Like in the case of other suspension foot-bridges these sculptures hide cast-iron piers of the bridge, which united with metal chains stretching out from the open lion’s jaws. This construction was created by engineer G. Tretter and sculptor P. P. Sokolov. The lion’s bridge was placed near the Big, Middle and Little Podyacheskaya streets where the Griboedov Canal has the most keen turn. On the embankment of the Canal there are many old trees which survived till our days.
Lions on the prospect of Obuhovskaya defence
Opposite the main building of old foundry there are many spreading trees. Between the wide pavement and carriageway on the green grass-plot on the little grave stones stand mighty iron black “lions on duty”.
Lions in front of the Ministry of Defence on the Admiralteyskiy prospect
Wide slightly stairs leads to the main entrance. Big marmoreal lions seat on the square granite pedestals. Threatening animals seat opposite each other turning their heads with curl main; wide breast, well-built muscular torso and mighty paws create the image of powerful predator.
Winged lions of St.-Petersburg
Not very far from the Nevskiy prospect where the Griboedov Canal turns there is a suspension foot-bridge. It is called – “Bank bridge” because it is situated near the building of the Assignation bank (nowadays it is the building of the Financial-Economy University). There are 4 winged lions, or griffins on the massive pedestals on this bridge. They hold bridge’s chains in the paw. Aureate wings and lamps above their heads create a fantastic spirit of this place. The griffins were coined of the cast-iron according to the P. P. Sokolov’s models, who was one of the most famous and outstanding sculpture. The griffins wings are made of sheet-iron.. The same models were used to the other lions, which were placed to the Lion’s bridge through the Griboedov Canal opposite the Little Podyecheskaya street. Bank and Lion’s bridges created a peculiar colour to the Canal.
4 griffins on the Neva river
These bronze winged lions are located on the granite embankment opposite the Academy of Arts near the water. With clasping ears to the head and opening paws they protect the entrance to the semicircle areas with granite benches. Griffins with lamps standing near by them were coined in 1834 according to the models of P.P. Gede. Then the winged lions mysteriously disappeared. There are no lions on the 1918 pictures on the embankment. The research assistant of the Academy of Arts I. G. Black found the lithograph of the painter M. N. Vorobyov’s picture. There were 4 griffins on the picture. In 1959 the winged lions were returned to their old place. The project of restoration was developed by architectures I. N. Benua and A. E. Polakov. Lions were coined according to the models made by sculpture G F. Tsigankov in the studio of the Academy of Arts.
Chinese lions “Shi- Tzu”
It is necessaryy to visit the Petrovskaya embankment because of these wonderful lions. In 1901-1903 opposite the Peter the I’s house an architect L. I. Novikov and engineer F. G. Zbrogek decided to built a granite slope to the Neyva river. In 1907 stone lions “Shi- Tzu” were placed there on the granite pedestals. “Shi- Tzu” – seems lion in Chinese language. Thou these fairy-tale lions don’t look like normal mighty and regal lions. In ancient China similar sculptures were placed near the entrance to the palaces and burial-vaults. Very well done original sculptures finished the composition of the granite slope to the river.
St.- Petersburg is famous not only in lions, but in sphinx too. In ancient Egypt sphinx - a fantastic creature with lion’s body and man’s or holy animal’s head was the symbol of tsar's power. Four sphinx adorn the Egyptian bridge through the Fontanka river. This bridge was built at the beginning of the 19 cent. when the Egyptian culture was very popular. It is decorated in the ancient Egyptian style. Architectures B. A. Hristianovich and G. Tretter established high iron gates on it. This gates were decorated with the Egyptian hieroglyphs, oriental ornaments and they were also braid with iron chain. There are also the Egyptian hieroglyphs on the bridge’s railings. Four iron sphinxes made by P.P. Sokolov were placed on the bridge. At the beginning of the 20 cent the bridge suddenly felt off when the regiment of the cavalry troop walked through it The real reason of this accident is still unknown. After this accident a temporary wooden bridge was erected and it was rebuilt only 50 years later. Original chain and four iron sphinxes were returned to the bridge. Except the scientific version of the accident there is a legend which explains this case. It is said that one woman lived near the Fontanka river and she was in love with one officer from the cavalry troop. He betrayed her trust and once when she saw the cavalry troop crossing the bridge she said: “The deuce take you!” . The bridge felt down. Her name was Mary and after it everybody called her “Egyptian Mary”.
Sphinx near the Academy of Arts
In the 1834 two sphinxes from Egypt were placed on the embankment of the Neyva river near the Academy of Arts. Two sculptures of sphinxes were founded near the ancient capital of Egypt – Fivi. There is an inscription on the pedestal: “A Sphinx from the ancient Fivi in Egypt was brought to the city of St. Peter in 1832”. More than 35 centuries they protected the tomb of Amenhotep the III who was the tsar of the Upper and Lower Egypt. Binary crown on the sphinxes heads are the evidence of it. Wise as a man, strong as a lion they had the face of that pharaoh, whose peace they had to protect. Two cobras on their heads are the protector and defender of the pharaoh. There is a legend that they change their look every day. At the morning their expression very calm and kind till 12 o’clock. But in the evening their look becomes ominous and threatening. Sometimes natives specially come to the embankment before the sunset to catch a moment when they change their look. However it is said that it is a very specific sight and it is a real fear to go mad.
A lion on the 30 meters height
It is necessary to go to the Isaac Cathedral and to look narrowly at the sculptures of the Evangelists. They crown the pediments of the tower porticos of the Cathedral. One can see that one of them Mark is portrayed with a lion. This lion with curl mane and open jaws on the pediment of the western portico is over its numerous fellows