The Orlov or Gatchina Gate was erected between 1777 and 1782 on the boundary of the Catherine Park at the start of the road to Gatchina, the former estate of Count Grigory Orlov, commander-in-chief of the Russian artillery. Catherine II honoured one of her favourites with this monument in his own lifetime to celebrate his success in directing the struggle against a plague epidemic that afflicted Moscow in 1771. The side of the gate facing Gatchin bears an inscription taken from the poet Vasily Maikov’s address to the general: “Moscow has been delivered from misfortune by Orlov.” Another inscription on the park side gives a fuller account of this event.
The architectural design for the Orlov Gate, approved by Catherine II in 1771, was the work of Antonio Rinaldi. The construction was supervised by his fellow architect Ilya Neyelov and the master mason Pinchetti.
Compositionally the Orlov Gate takes the form of a triumphal arch with a single span. Rinaldi employed elements borrowed from Ancient Roman architecture: columns and pilasters on pedestals are placed to the sides of the lofty arch. A memorial inscription is placed on the attic that faces into the park. The pink Tivdia marble of the columns and panels is set off well by the grey marble that was used to face the main bulk of the edifice.
In 1781 it was decided to add functioning gates to the arch, but it was another six years before wrought-iron leaves were produced at the Sestroretsk Arms Factory to the design of the architect Giacomo Quarenghi. In 1784–86 iron railings were set up either side of the gate.
In 1789 Prince G. Potyomkin-Tavrichesky went through this gate bringing news about victory over the Turkish troops in Moldavia.