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Until the mid-18th century the Fontanka river (from the Russian word for "fountain") was the southern boundary of St. Petersburg, Russia. In contrast to the Neva and its many rivers and canals, the Fontaka has a single embankment running along its seven kilometer course. The first building on its banks was the Summer Palace of Peter the Great. It received its modern name in 1737 when aqueducts were constructed across it to feed water to the fountains of the Summer Garden. Among its many attractions are its 15 bridges, including the Egyptian Bridge with its sphinxes. The present structure, which incorporates the sphinxes and other details from the 19th-century bridge, was completed in 1955, but the original one-span suspension bridge was constructed in 1825-1826, based on designs by civil engineers Von Traitteur and Christianowicz. It featured a pair of cast-iron gates with Egyptian-style columns, ornaments, and hieroglyphics, with many details of the ironwork elaborately gilded, and its granite abutments were topped with cast-iron sphinxes and hexagonal lanterns. (It collapsed in 1905when a cavalry squadron marched across it.) The Egyptomania fad that inspired its construction was further exemplified by the pair of 3500-year-old syenite sphinxes from a temple built near Luxor for pharaoh Amana-Ḥatpa (Amenhotep III; “Amun is Satisfied”), the father of Akhenaten. In 1830, while on a pilgrimage, Andrei Muravyov saw them on sale in Alexandria and arranged for their purchase by the Imperial Academy of Arts. Architect Konstantin Andreyevich Thon, who had achieved fame due to his design for the Academy’s interiors in 1827, designed a quayside in front of the building, with stairs down to the Neva River, and adorned it with the two 23-ton sphinxes, which were installed on the waterfront in 1834.
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