Catherine’s Staircase connects Kadriorg Park with the top of the Lasnamäe klint. The staircase leading uphill from Peter the Great’s so-called old palace was built in the 18th century so the Tsar could observe naval exercises in the Gulf of Tallinn from the hilltop. The staircase stood by the large cascade that conducted water from Lake Ülemiste into the canals and conduits of Kadriorg Park. This artificial waterfall was initially planned for the central axis of the palace and regular park, but as this would have meant the destruction of Peter’s house, the stream was channelled southward to the approximate location of the present-day Kumu. Catherine’s Staircase also leads to the historic Tallinn Lower Lighthouse (Valge majakas), which was one of the major local visitor attractions in the 19th century.
The 18th-century staircase was broadened and fitted with limestone walls and lamps in 1938, during the construction of the building of the President’s Office. It was at about that time that a road was built from Mäekalda Street up to Lasnamäe Street. The present appearance of Catherine’s Staircase dates from renovations undertaken in 2005.