The Great Mithridates Staircase
The Great Mithridates Staircase is one of the major Kerch highlights favorite both for its citizens and guests. 432 stairs leading from the main Kerch square to the top of the mountain located ashore the Kerch Strait are called the Great Mithridates Staircase.
The staircase was named after Mount Mithridates, which in its turn derived its name from the majestic King of antiquity Mithridates VI Eupator. 432 stairs leading from the main Kerch square to the top of the mountain ashore the Strait of Kerch are called Great Mithridates Staircase.
Mountain Mithridates in its turn was named in honor of the great antic King Mithridates (full name is Pontus Mithridates VI Eupator).
Mithridates ruled Bosporan Kingdom in its capital - Panticapaeum, now called Kerch. His magnificent palace was built on a hilltop overlooking the city. Being a talented military leader, Mithridates Eupator conducted endless war with the powerful Roman Empire, expanding territories of the Bosporan Kingdom.
Army of Mithridates drove out the Romans from Asia Minor and Greece. According to a legend, King Mithridates was afraid that he might be poisoned, and from youth had been taking poison in small doses.
When, at the end of life, his own son had betrayed him and led the revolt, the king decided to kill himself. He took poison, but the death did not come to him. And then he asked a servant to stab him with a sword. Until now, there are legends about endless treasures of Mithridates.
The Great Mithridates Staircase was erected in the 1830s under the design of the architect Alexander Digbi. Observation platforms were decorated with the sculptures of griffins and stone vases. The elegant staircase became a real decoration of Kerch and a favourite walking place for its citizenry. From the Staircase a wide panorama of Kerch central part can be observed.
Great Mithridates Staircase survived in its initial condition until the Crimean War of 1853-1856, when during the bombardment of the city from men-of-war it was damaged.
130 years later the Staircase was restored. Restorers managed to find remains of stone sculptures buried in the ground, and Kerch sculptor Roman Serdjuk made the identical copies of these sculptures. And now the upper tier of the restored staircase has the seated winged stone-made lions with eagle heads – griffins.
The top of the Mount Mithridates nowadays has the Eternal Flame and the Obelisk of Glory – a Common Grave of Soviet officers and soldiers who died during the storming of Kerch during the Great Patriotic War.