The Mariinskiy Palace occupies a prominent position in St. Petersburg’s historic centre, across St. Isaac’s Square and the Blue Bridge from St. Isaac’s Cathedral. The land on which it was built had originally been the site of the St. Petersburg residence of Zakhar Chernyshev, a prominent military commander who had played a key role in the Seven Years’ War and been Minister of War in the reign of Catherine the Great. In 1839, Emperor Nicholas I commissioned the court architect Andrey Stackensneider to build a palace as a wedding present for his daughter, Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna, who was about to marry Duke Maximilian of Leuchtenberg, the step-grandson of Napoleon Bonaparte and a keen amateur scientist and art collector. Stackensneider, who was also responsible for the Nikolaevskiy Palace and the Beloselskiy-Belozerskiy Palace, created a monumental neoclassical building with intricate decor inspired by medieval French and Renaissance architecture. The original palace interiors were equally eclectic, with each hall decorated in a different style.
Mariinsky Palace (Russian: Мариинский дворец), also known as Marie Palace, was the last neoclassical Imperial residence to be constructed in Saint Petersburg. It was built between 1839 and 1844, designed by the court architect Andrei Stackenschneider. It houses the city’s Legislative Assembly. The palace stands on the south side of Saint Isaac’s Square, just across the Blue Bridge from Saint Isaac’s Cathedral. The site had been previously owned by Zakhar Chernyshev, and contained his home designed by Jean-Baptiste Vallin, which was built between 1762 and 1768. Chernyshev occasionally lent his home to foreign dignitaries visiting the capital, such as Louis Henri, Prince of Condé. From 1825 to 1839, the Chernyshev Palace, as it was then known, was the site of the Nikolaevskaya Cavalry School [ru], where Mikhail Lermontov was known to have studied for two years. The palace was demolished in 1839, and materials were reused in the construction of the Mariinsky Palace. . . . The Mariinsky Palace returned to Imperial ownership in 1884, where it remained until 1917. During that period, the palace housed the State Council, Imperial Chancellery, and Committee of Ministers, which after 1905 became the Council of Ministers. The grand hall for the sessions of the State Council was designed by Leon Benois.
St Isaac’s Square is St. Petersburg’s main administrative square. On its south side we find the Mariinsky Palace, which today houses the city’s legislature – while on the northern side of the Square we find Admitalty Prospekt. . . . In the early days, St Isaac’s was a market place, and was known as Market Square. It only got its present name in 1738.
The first stone-built buildings to appear on St Isaac’s square were built at the behest of Empress Anna Ioannovna. The architectural style to be seen on the square appeared during the reign of Emperor Alexander I. It was his dream to turn St. Petersburg into the world’s most beautiful city, and thus he invited the French architect Antoine François Mauduit. However, political upheavals at the time left the architect in a difficult position. This left the way clear for a different French architect – Auguste Montferrand – to undertake the design and construction of St Isaac’s Cathedral on the square. The Russian architect Karl Ivanovich Rossi was offered an unusual commission in 1847. At the request of Emperor Alexander II, he took overall charge of the layout of the square, and brought it into the appearance we see here today.