The memorial arch in Mogilev

Mogilev is one of the oldest Belarusian cities, dating from the end of the 13th century when a large-scale construction of the Mogilev castle began. During its existence, Mogilev was part of various superpowers, such as the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Rzeczpospolita. It is well known that after one of the divisions of the Rzeczpospolita, Mogilev joined the Russian Empire. Many historical figures dreamed of conquering the city on the Dnieper. They also often visited it since Mogilev was considered the most flavorable place for solving problems of state importance. Therefore, Mogilev is one of the few Belarusian cities that were visited by many outstanding historical figures who made a significant contribution to the development of the world history.

The same happened with one curious historical object, which included in the list of Belarusian cultural values, the Memorial Arch. Its construction was connected with the loud name of Catherine the Great. It is well known that before one of the divisions of the Rzeczpospolita, Russian Empress Catherine II arrived in Mogilev for the most important meeting with Austrian Emperor Joseph to discuss the fate of the Polish state. That majestic and amazing arch was erected in honor of Catherine. It was designed by architect Stasov.

In Mogilev, the historic meeting took place between the great superpowers and military allies, so mayors tried to surprise the Empress, making her stay in the Belarusian city as solemn as possible to flatter her. It is noteworthy that a new church was built in honor of that historic meeting near the arch. It was called the Cathedral of St. Joseph as a sign of respect to Austrian Emperor Joseph. In the last century, it was destroyed like many Orthodox and Catholic churches.

After the Second World War, the Soviet authority decided to restore the once beautiful arch in its own way. So, Stalin and Lenin's sculptural reliefs appeared on the monument. A little later, a massive image of a hammer and sickle, as well as the emblem of the Soviet Union, was added. The entrance with the help of which Catherine the Great came into the city was disguised. Memorable signs listing the names of the Soviet soldiers who participated in the liberation of Mogilev from the Nazi occupiers were added as well. The arch changed not only its exterior but also its name. It was called “The Arc de Triomphe”, referring to magnificent France, great writer Remarque and his famous work.

The memorial arch in Mogilev is an architectural monument of the past, though modified but preserved to the present day and still impressive.