Not that many people know that the northernmost location of an Egyptian Sphinx is actually in Russia. Making the Sphinx of Saint Petersburg probably the only place in the world where you can see a three thousand old sphinx covered in snow. But we were in Saint Petersburg in May 2015 with Timetravels and it was too hot for snow. But the sight of these sphinxes was so weird that made us research everything we could about them.
The Sphinx of Saint Petersburg is actually two sphinxes, and they can be found in what is known today as the Quay with Sphinxes, in front of Universitetskaya Naberezhnaya. The statues are roughly 3500 years old and considered among the best examples of Ancient Egyptian art outside of Egypt.
A long time ago, they stood on the Alley of Sphinxes in front of the tomb of Pharaoh Amenhotep III, but everything changed back in 1830 when they were placed close to the waters of the Neva River.
The History Behind the Sphinx of Saint Petersburg
The story of these sphinxes started in 1830 when Andrei Muravyov was going through a pilgrimage in Egypt and saw these sphinxes for sale. He was so impressed with the ancient Egyptian statues that he got in touch with the Russian ambassador and proposed to acquire them.
Supposedly, Russian Emperor Nicholas I deemed the purchase too much. And when everything was finally settled down, the owner had already sold the sphinxes to France. Then the French Revolution happened, and Saint Petersburg got the sphinxes that can be seen today before the Imperial Academy of Arts.
If you are wondering about the faces on the sphinxes, they are portraits of pharaoh Amenhotep III, and the shape of their headwear shows that he was the ruler of two kingdoms, Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt. Both statues weigh about 23 tons each.
The first thing we did when we got to Saint Petersburg with the guys from Timetravels was the visit to the Sphinx of Saint Petersburg. Such an unexpected sight to have in Russia. It is even weirder when you look across the river into all the neo-classical palaces and buildings overlooking the waters. Somehow it felt like a weird trip back in time.
Since 1834, these statues can be found at Quay with Sphinxes. Designed by the great neo-classical architect Konstantin Thon, the place consists of granite pedestals, a pier, and bronze lamps and griffins, clearly inspired by the Egyptian style.
If you decide to go to Russia, you should go with Timetravels! They are an amazing travel agency and can help you with everything you might need for a perfect Russian trip. They organize various tours, from student tours to low-budget tours to grown-up travels! Get in touch with them.
A Visit to the Sphinx of Saint Petersburg
Universitetskaya naberezhnaya, 17