Rostral Columns were invented in Antiquity. They were erected in Greece and Rome so as to commemorate Navy victories. They were decorated with rostra (or prows) of defeated ships.
32 meters-high the rostral columns of St Petersburg were erected in 1810. They mark the end of Vasilievsky Island called Strielka (arrow). The first column was used as a lighthouse on the Bolshaya Neva (Great Neva), the second used to light the Malaya Neva (Small Neva). French architect Thomas Thomon inlayed each column with four pairs of rostra from ships. At their basis lay large statues symbolizing the gods of sea and trade.
The columns are still lit sometimes. On rare occasions it is also possible to reach their top and get a beautiful view on the city.