Did you know that the sphinxes standing along the University Embankment in St. Petersburg are about 3, 5 thousand years old. Carved from syenite, they stood at the entrance to a magnificent temple built in Egypt for Pharaoh Amenhotep III. The statues stood there until Egyptomania began in Europe and the enterprising English transported the sphinxes to Alexandria, where they were put up for sale.
At this time, our compatriot, the chamberlain of the Russian imperial court, Andrei Nikolaevich Muravyov, was passing through Egypt. The poet, writer, traveler and connoisseur of beauty was so struck by the beauty of the statues that he immediately sent a letter to the Russian ambassador in which he offered to purchase them. From the embassy, the traveler's letter went to St. Petersburg, where, after going through a bunch of bureaucratic delays, in the end, such a purchase was considered expedient, but by that time the owner had already sold them to France.
The next French revolution saved the day. If not for her, today images of mysterious mythological creatures would adorn the Seine embankment or one of the squares of Paris. The new government had no time for ancient statues, and it ceded them to Russia.
2 sphinxes, each weighing 23 tons, were loaded onto a specially chartered Italian sailing ship Buena Speranza (Good Hope). A part of the deck was cut out on the ship. With the greatest caution, the Sphinxes set off from the banks of the Nile to the banks of the Neva. Unfortunately, during the transportation, the chins and the false beards that covered them were chipped off the sphinxes. When loading one of the sphinxes, the cables broke and he fell, breaking the mast and the side of the ship to pieces. There was a deep rope mark on the sphinx's face, which was later repaired.
In 1832 the statues arrived in St. Petersburg. They spent the first two years in the courtyard of the Academy of Arts. It took so much time to create a pier at its walls, the architect of which was Konstantin Ton. The Sphinxes took their place on the embankment in 1834.
On the pedestals, the inscription "Sphinx from ancient Thebes in Egypt was transported to the city of St. Peter in 1832" was carved.
In 2002-2003, the first complete restoration of the sphinxes was carried out by the St. Petersburg restorers S. B. Shchigorts and A. A. Doos under the auspices of the Association for the Study of Ancient Egypt "MAAT".