The Morea Column
The Morea (or Small Rostral) Column was set up at the junction of three alleys in the regular part of the Catherine Park, by the cascade between the first and second Lower Ponds as a monument to successes in the Russo-Turkish Wars. The column was erected in 1771, on the orders of Empress Catherine II, to mark in particular the Russian victory won under the command of Count Fiodor Orlov at the Morea peninsula in the Mediterranean.
The relatively short (7-metre) column is impressive from a distance. Its pedestal stands on a square plinth raised slightly above the ground. The material for the pedestal and the shaft of the column is grey Siberian marble with white veins, while white Carrara marble was used for the capital and base. The column is topped with a small cone-shaped obelisk of pink Tivdiya marble embellished with the stylized prows of ships (rostra in Latin) as a reminder that the victory involved the navy.
A bronze plaque attached to the pedestal bears an inscription telling of the heroic battle: “On 17 February 1771, Count Fiodor Orlov approached the Morea peninsula in the Mediterranean by the port of Vitulo with two Russian ships, discharged land troops and himself proceeded to Modon to link up with Christians of that country. Captain Barkov with the Spartan Eastern Legion took Passava, Berdoni and Sparta. Captain Prince Dolgoruky and the Spartan Western Legion conquered Kalamata, Leoktari and Arcadia. The fortress of Navarino surrendered to Brigadier Hannibal. The Russian forces numbered six hundred men. They did not ask if the enemy were many, but where they were. Six thousand Turks were taken prisoner.” Ivan Abramovich Hannibal mentioned in the inscription was the grandfather of the famous Russian poet Alexander Pushkin.
The name of the person who designed the Morea Column has not been established for certain. It is likely to have been Rinaldi as is suggested by the parallels between the column and the Kagul Obelisk: the elegant shape of both monuments, the similarity of the stylistic devices and materials used.
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