Rostral Columns - St Petersburg, Russia

Lighthouse category:  beacon

Position:  approx 59°56'38"N : 30°18'22"E

Status: inactive

Date:  1811

Designer:  Thomas de Thomon

Tower height:  not known

Construction: round brick towers rendered with red stucco and decorated with bronze anchors and ships prows

Colour scheme: towers red, bronze ornamentation unpainted

Focal plane height:  not relevant

Characteristics: inactive

Foghorn:  none

Google map view:  google map link

The city of St Petersburg is built largely on the delta of the River Neva at the point where it enters the Gulf of Finland.  The two main channels in the delta are formed by the Bolshaya Neva and the Malaya Neva, the area of land between these two branches being Vasilyevsky Island on which most of the city centre is built.  The eastern tip of the island is the site of the former stock exchange (the Bourse), now the Russian Naval Museum, designed by the French architect Thomas de Thomon and constructed, in the Greek Revival style, between 1805 and 1810.  On the river bank in front of the Bourse, de Thomon constructed a large semi-circular area overlooking the river with ramps leading down to a landing stage.  This was intended as a ceremonial approach to the city and the entrance was symbolised by the two "Rostral" Columns seen in the image above.  "Rostral" is derived from the Latin word for a ship's prow (rostrum), and bronze models of these, along with bronze anchors, adorn the columns.  At the base of each column are two marble statues representing the four great rivers of Russia - the Dniper and the Volga on the northern column, and the Neva and Volkhov on the southern column.  The columns originally served as navigation beacons and were topped by oil fired lights in representations of Greek braziers.  The braziers have now been replaced by gas fired lamps that are lit on ceremonial occasions only.

The photo below shows the columns with the former Stock Exchange in the background.

A close up of the northern column is shown in the image below which also gives a clear view of four of the bronze ships' prows.

The image below shows one of the allegorical statues situated at the bases of the columns.  I'm not certain which river this one actually represents but I think it is either the Volga or the Volkhov.

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