The Alexander Column was erected on the Palace Square of St. Petersburg in 1834 by the architect Auguste Montferrand. Emperor Nicholas I wanted to create a monument in honor of the victory of his older brother Alexander I over Napoleon. The king ordered the erection of a column that would be higher than the Vendôme column in Paris, and this wish was fulfilled, albeit with great difficulty.
A suitable granite rock for the future column was found in Finland, in the Puterlak quarry, which at that time was located in the Vyborg province. The block was overturned on a bed of spruce branches - and the master masons set to work. It lasted a long time, and the result was an even cylinder 25.6 meters high and weighing 600 tons.
The convoy was delivered to St. Petersburg by water. A barge of a special design and a special pier were made especially for its transportation. During loading, an accident occurred - under the weight of the column, the bars on which it had to roll onto the ship broke, and the column almost collapsed into the water. The monolith was loaded with 600 soldiers, who were urgently summoned from a nearby fortress. In four hours they covered 36 miles.
Finally, a barge with a column, towed by two steamers, reached Kronstadt, and then to St. Petersburg.
Pine piles were driven under the foundation, the foundation pit was filled with water, and the piles were cut at the level of the water table. It turned out to be a perfectly horizontal platform. A 400-ton block of foundation was erected on it.
The foundation of the monument was built of stone granite blocks half a meter thick. A bronze box with 105 coins minted in honor of the victory of 1812 was laid in its center. A platinum medal with the image of the Alexander Column and the date "1830", minted according to the Montferrand project, was also placed there, as well as a mortgage board with the following text:
"In the summer of Christmas 1831, the construction of a monument erected to Emperor Alexander by grateful Russia on a granite foundation, laid on the 19th day of November 1830, was begun. Count Y. Litta chaired the construction of this monument in St. Petersburg. Volkonsky, A. Olenin, Count P. Kutaisov, I. Gladkov, L. Carbonier, A. Vasilchikov. The construction was made according to the outline of the same architect Augustine de Montferand. "
2000 soldiers and 400 workers were involved in the installation of the column. This entire operation was completed in 1 hour and 45 minutes. Many people gathered to watch this event, and the sovereign also came with his family.
At the top of the pillar was a figure of an angel with a cross. Historians claim that the angel looks like Emperor Alexander I, and therefore the column is called Alexandria. The figure, however, is female. There is a version that the St. Petersburg poet Elizaveta Kuhlman served as a model for the sculpture.
The column is not secured by anything and is held in place only by the force of its gravity. If you come very close to the column and look up, you will notice that the column is swaying. For a long time, residents of St. Petersburg were afraid to walk near her. There is a legend that once the creator of this monument, the architect Auguste Montferrand, asked the driver who was carrying him to drive closer to the column, but the driver refused. He told the master that it was dangerous, because the column could collapse on them at any moment. Upon learning of this, Montferrand, who lived nearby on the Moika, began to walk every day near the column with his dog to calm the townspeople, and gradually the fears subsided.
In April 1961, after Gagarin's flight, someone climbed a column and wrote at the angel's feet: "Yuri Gagarin! Hurray!" Who did this remains a mystery.
The Pillar of Alexandria is an outstanding engineering achievement. It is the tallest column in the world made of monolithic granite. The height of the monument is 47.5 meters, the granite monolith is 25.88 meters.