The Turkish Bath
by Alexandra V. Toeseva, Registrar
Text by Alexandra V. Toeseva
St Petersburg, 2010
Number of printed copies: 3000
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The Turkish Bath pavilion, erected on a small headland in the south-west part of the Great Pond in 1852-53 on the orders of Emperor Nicholas I, was the last structure to be built on the territory of the Catherine Park. Devised as a sort of memorial to the Russo-Turkish War of 1828–29, this pavilion was designed by the architect Ippolito Monighetti, who took as his model a Turkish mosque. The dome of the building was decorated with relief ornament, while the tall minaret crowned by a spire and crescent gave it a particularly picturesque appearance.
Finished in the “Moresque” style, the small interior rooms of the Turkish Bath were exquisitely and colourfully decorated with ornamental mouldings, paintings, mosaics, and white marble relief details and fountains salvaged from the bathhouse of a Turkish sultana during the war with the Ottoman Empire, some of them dating form the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Emperor Nicholas I enthusiastically chose articles for the sumptuous pavilion himself. Part of the furnishings were commissioned, the others were purchased by Monighetti in Moscow.
During the Second World War, the Turkish Bath was damaged by direct hits from shells. For over half a century the pavilion was waiting its turn for restoration.
After research and restoration works in 2006-2009, supported by the WBRD and the federal budget, the pavilion now houses the extant original interior furnishings, as well as items of that epoch replacing lost ones. The most impressive among the restored old marbles is the two-sided cascade fountain, which had to be assembled from debris.
This booklet will captivatingly tell readers about the history of creation and use of the Turkish Bath, one of the most exotic buildings in the Catherine Park.