At the building of the Academy of Arts, located on the Vasilevsky Island of the northern capital, there is a cultural composition, which is one of the unofficial symbols of St. Petersburg. These are ancient statues, which are much older than the city on the Neva itself - the sphinxes on the University Embankment. Their age, according to scientists, is three and a half thousand years.
There are fourteen such statues in the city. But the sphinxes on Universitetskaya embankment are the most famous. They are popular not only among tourists who visit the city with great pleasure, but also among St. Petersburg residents.
Sphinxes, located on the University Embankment, were discovered in 1820 during the excavations of the city of Thebes, which were carried out by an expedition led by the famous Greek Egyptologist Janis Athonasis with the money of the English Consulate. According to available information, these two monumental statues, made of pink granite, were located on the west bank of the Nile near the colossi of Memnon andrepresented the "guard" of the tomb of Pharaoh Aminhotep III, who ruled Upper and Lower Egypt. Due to the fact that the funds were allocated by England, Yanni (the nickname of the scientist) should give most of the finds to the collection of the British Consul in this country - Henry S alt. Our sphinxes were sent there. S alt moved the statues to Alexandria, closer to the sea coast, where they were noticed by the hero of the Napoleonic War of 1812, Andrei Muravyov, who immediately informed Nicholas the First of the need to purchase the statues. Europe in those years was fascinated by Egyptology, so it was not difficult to convince the autocrat. By order of the emperor, 64 thousand rubles were allocated from the treasury, and the sphinxes were bought. In May 1832, they were taken to St. Petersburg, the imperial capital, on a special fortified ship.
Initially, it was not supposed that the sphinxes on the University Embankment would decorate the city, there should have been other sculptures - Klodt's horses. But by the decision of the architect K. Ton, who designed the embankment, by 1834 special pedestals weighing 23 tons each were erected on it, on which 62-ton Egyptian statues were installed. Later, an inscription with information about them was carved on each pedestal.
The Sphinx is a mythological creature. This is a lion with a human head. Each sphinx on Universitetskaya embankment is an excellent representative of the symbol of courage, wisdom and dignity, which theseanimals. The profile of each resembles that of a king. The head, which is crowned, and the shoulders are covered with a cape, and a cobra flaunts on the forehead - a symbol of the patronage of the pharaohs. On the neck of the statue are six-row beads, which are also a sign of power. On the chest is a medallion engraved with the name of Aminhotep III.
Sphinxes on the University Embankment, photos of which are presented in the article, are an example of the magnificent creativity of ancient Egyptian masons. Their image was captured not only in the works of artists. The geniuses of literature dedicated their poems to them.