Friday, 21 October 2011

Alexander's Column

Alexander's column and Rossi's arch!
Alexander's Column (Aleksandrovskaya Kolonna) stands in the middle of Palace Square in between the Hermitage Museum and Rossi's arch. It was built after 1812 as a triumphal monument to commemorate the victory of Russia over the French when Napoleon was in power. The funny part is that the person who won the contest for the best design was a French architect named Auguste Montferrand, who also designed St. Issac's Cathedral. The column was made with a granite monolith that came from the north shore of the Gulf of Finland.

Look up there! It's a giant 'Peter' flickr album!

The base of the column with
Rossi's arch behind.
In 1832, supervised by the craftsmen who put in the columns at St. Issac's, 2000 volunteers (who were mostly veterans from the war) and 400 other workers raised the column onto the base using a big system of scaffolding, ropes and pulleys. The column is one of the highest of its kind in the world. It is 47.5 meters high. It is taller than most of the its rivals including the 44.5 meter Trojan column that is in Rome and the 46 meter Vendome Column that is in Paris. The bronze angel that is on the top of it symbolizes the peace that came over Europe after the final defeat of Napoleon.

Here is the base of the column, where the
round part is is where the balanced top starts.
Rossi's Arch
The base is decorated with bas-reliefs of people representing the rivers that the Russian soldiers had to cross while fighting Napoleon as well as allegories of Wisdom, Peace, Plenty, Victory and Justice. The top of the column is not attached to the base, so I don't want to be standing under there during an earthquake! It stands on its own 650 ton weight!


  1. Very interesting blog. I am curious as to what it is exactly about Alexander's column that inspired you to give it an entire blog entry of its own? I am interested in what you saw and felt when you looked at it. If you were to make up a story with Alexander's Column as the main character, what kind of story would it be?

  2. The thing that is so special is that is is balancing. NOT screwed in place!

  3. Ah..... "Balancing NOT screwed in place". So the notion of something placed high above everything else yet not securely in place intrigues you? I like the visual that comes to mind when you use the word "balancing". It makes me think of a principal dancer on point. Balance, elevation, precision, beauty - and the awareness that that state is finite.