© Wikimedia/Florstein
© Wikimedia/Florstein

Bank Bridge in Saint Petersburg: griffins for good luck

3 minutes to read

When we talk about Saint Petersburg, it’s all about bridges. The fact there are many canals in this city made people call it ‘Northern Venice’. Every bridge is unique. Not only they have charm - every one of them has its story or even a legend behind it. Now, it’s time to talk about Bank Bridge over the Griboedov Canal - it’s considered to be one of three chain bridges in Saint Petersburg, standing out thanks to griffin statues for good luck.

Brief history of the bridge

© Wikimedia/Ludushka
© Wikimedia/Ludushka

The population of the neighborhood around the Griboedov Canal (then called ‘Yekaterininsky’) began rising at the beginning of the 19th century. To help people move around in a better way, the city government decided there was a need for building several bridges over the canal. Together with the Bank Bridge, the project of the Bridge with Four Lions located further away was being developed. Both of them were opened in the summer of 1826. Both of them are chain bridges, which means they are suspension bridges. And both of them have statues of creatures who hold cables, which are integral parts of the construction, in their mouths. The Bank Bridge has its name after the State Assignations Bank, which previously was located nearby. Now, its initial building is occupied by the Saint Petersburg State University of Economics and Finance.

Appearance of the Bank Bridge

© Wikimedia/PichuginaDiana
© Wikimedia/PichuginaDiana

Statues of griffins (who are actually winged lions) are one of the most beautiful things you can find in Saint Petersburg. Those creatures gained a lot of attention to the bridge, and indeed became quite an easily recognizable symbol of the city. They were chosen to be put there because of the ancient legend, according to which, griffins always served as keepers of treasure. So, it was decided they’d ‘keep’ the state money stored in the bank in front of the bridge

The statues were developed by the Russian sculptor Pavel Sokolov, who also brought to life the sphinxes of the Egyptian Bridge, as well as lions of the Bridge of Four Lions. The detail which absolutely catches an eye is griffins’ gilded wings, made of copper and covered with real gold. Also, the griffins have lanterns over their heads.

Urban legends

© Wikimedia/Алексей Задонский
© Wikimedia/Алексей Задонский

It’s no wonder that having such a mysterious background, griffins have a pack of urban legends of their own. The most common one is that griffins of the Bank Bridge bring wealth. There are different options of asking them for it. For example, one can rub a left hip of the griffin closest to Kazansky Cathedral. Or shake a pocket with a small change in it, while crossing the bridge. Or just slightly touch one of those pretty gilded wings - it's enough for griffins to enhance your financial situation. Also, there is a belief that from time to time, griffins leave the bridge and start flying above the city. But only those who are deeply in love can see it.

So, if you believe in wonders, and want to improve your wealth level, you can just visit Bank Bridge in Saint Petersburg with griffin statues for good luck, and ask the creatures to help you. At least, you can check later if it’s true. And you will see one of the most recognizable symbols of Saint Petersburg with your own eyes.

Bank Bridge, St. Petersburg
Bank Bridge, St. Petersburg
Bank Bridge, Griboyedov channel embankment, Sankt-Peterburg, Russia, 191186

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The author

Maria Selezneva

Maria Selezneva

Hi, I am Maria, or Masha, as Russian speaking people call me. I’m your local guide for must-sees as well as off-the-beaten-track places in Moscow and St. Petersburg. I’ll show you my favourite destinations in both cities, where you can feel the true spirit of local traditions.

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