There is a stone pillar on Sobornaya Square in Dnipro city. Dozens, if not hundreds, of passersby pass by it every day, and only a few of them know what it is. The rest have no idea that it is probably the first stone construction in their city.
The history of this pillar began in 1787, when Catherine II decided to visit the lands that had just been annexed to the empire. Her way to the Crimea went through the mainland Ukraine and Catherine the Great, which had just begun to be built.
Court officials, namely the governor of the Taurian lands Nechuy-Kahovsky offered to perpetuate the journey of the ruler and proposed to put special milepost (in addition to the existing standard milepost) every 10 mile of her way.
They would be called the Catherine Miles and would be a masterpiece of construction art – a stone base, a cone on top, a medallion in the middle. In those days it was normal, but at the dawn of Soviet power the Bolsheviks would begin to destroy historical monuments – to eradicate the reminder of the previous regime. Catherine miles will be destroyed, and at the time of Ukraine’s independence there will be only 6 such “miles” with eagles and inscriptions of honor on their territory.
One in Dnipro city on Sobornaya Square, another in Dnepropetrovsk region in a field near the village of Volossky. Another one near Novovorontsovka in Kherson region (near the legendary watermelon monument).
And six in the Ukrainian Crimea.
All monuments have the status of monuments of cultural heritage of national importance.
The mysteries of the Catherine mile in Dnipro city
It is believed that Catherine’s Mile in Dnieper is the very first stone construction in the city.
Externally, the monument on Cathedral Square is well preserved, but the medallion is not preserved – the place for it is clearly visible with metal pins. Now there is not even a plaque on the column, which is why the townspeople do not know about such an artifact.
Its history is also quite confusing. As it turned out, it is not known for certain when the monument appeared. In the beginning of XX century, local historians wrote about it, and there was a version that the Empress herself stood here during the laying of the cathedral nearby. It is also written that here she was served a carriage for her further journey to the South. And the third version counts the artifact as one of those special milepost.
The monument has been restored many times and each time traces of antiquity have disappeared from it.
It is common among historians to consider this pillar according to the third theory – that it is the Catherine mile.
Catherine miles in the village of Voloskoe, Kherson and the Crimea
The next Catherine mile in Dnepropetrovsk region is in a field near the village Volosskoye. Overgrown with grass and partially destroyed, it survives its age. There is less attention to it, because now there are no tracks except for agricultural machinery.
Another monument is located in Kherson region, near the village Novovorontsovka just near the legendary watermelon monument. It is believed that Catherine moved along this road in the direction of the present Berislav, and then to the Crimea.
But in the Crimea Catherine’s miles are of greater interest. First, they are better preserved. Secondly, here they are true works of art.
I should say at once that the real history of their installation is not known, so historians link these monuments with the preparation of the trip of the ruler.
In Sevastopol the monument stands in the city park. In Bakhchisaray the mile stands next to the Khan’s Palace. On the highway between Simferopol and Bakhchisarai there is another mile – near the village Novopavlovka.
An interesting story took place near the village of Otvazhnoye. Here unknown people destroyed the monument in 1998. After a deliberate desecration of a historical monument, its remains were moved to a museum in the Old Crimea. It was collected by parts and now it is located there. On the place of the original pillar there is a memorial sign.
And there is only one pedestal from Catherine’s mile near Tsvetochny. And in the village Krynichki (this is the territory of the military training ground), there is the sixth mile in the Crimea and nine in Ukraine.
This is the history of the Catherine miles, from what remains of the great journey of Catherine II, and that if the stone witnesses were timed to this event.