The Tower Ruin
Among the complex of edifices devoted to the Russo-Turkish Wars at Tsarskoye Selo, an important place is occupied by the monumental and effective Tower Ruin in the Catherine Park.
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Constructed in 1771 to the design of the architect Yury Velten, his creation is a sort of symbol of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and at the same time the first Neo-Gothic structure in any Russian park. From the outside the tower looks like a Doric column that has sunk into the ground. It is topped by a large square platform supporting a round pavilion whose walls are pierced by lancet arches.
The brick walls abutting the tower are partly hidden within the man-made hill. The wall facing the park is perforated by a semicircular arch. The gigantic keystone of this arch bears the inscription: “This stone was placed in 1768 in memory of the war declared on Russia by the Turks.” The arch serves as the entrance to a narrow corridor on the right side of which a spiral ramp begins that gives access to the upper platform. From up there, at a height of 21 metres, you get a splendid view of the Landscape Park.
In days gone by the walls of the Tower Ruin were decorated with paintings produced by Russian artists under the direction of Alexei Belsky. The surface of the plaster was artificially aged with cracks imitating natural wear-and-tear. Because of this the tower resembled the ruins of some work of fortification, interest in which was particularly strong in the second half of the eighteenth century: the architects of that time appreciated the beauty of the picturesque ruins of Greece and Rome and created their own artificial ruins, producing an atmosphere of melancholy in the parks.
The oaks that were planted in the 1780s between the Tower Ruin and the nearby Orlov Gate and also on the slope of the embankment were nearly all felled during the Second World war. Today the slopes of the hill are concealed by the bright foliage of young trees.
The Tower Ruin almost immediately became one of the most popular sights of the Tsarskoye Selo parks and it has been depicted by artists many times.