The artist M.O. Mikeshin started work on the plans in 1860. The designs were accepted in 1872, at which point the erection of the pedestal, made of 600 Serdobolsk granite blocks, had already began. Special ships were built to from the stones, which weighed up to 50 tons, from the Valaam Archipelago Island.
Surrounding the pediment are nine sculptural portraits of nobles from Catherine the Great's time (sculptor A.M. Opekushin); these are organised into groups of generals (P.A. Rumyantsev, G.A. Potemkin, A.V. Suvorov), officials (A.A. Bezborodko, I.I. Betskoy), naval commanders (V.Y. Chichagov, A.G. Orlov) and cultural figures (G.R. Derzhavin, E.R. Dashkova).