The Mariyinsky Palace is situated on a hilly bank overlooking the Dneiper River in Kiev.
Construction on the palace began in 1744 at the request of the Empress Elizabeth Petrovna, daughter of Peter the Great. It was built by the Italian architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli in the Baroque style. The palace was completed in 1752, but Elizabeth did not live long enough to enjoy the fruits of the great architects labors.
Catherine the Great was the first August resident, who stayed here in 1787. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the palace became the official residence of the Governor-Generals. it was generally used for ceremonial and festive events.
In the early 19th century a fire destroyed nearly half of the palace. It was not until 1870 that the Emperor Alexander II ordered a reconstruction of the palace by architect Konstantin Mayevsky, based on original drawings and watercolours. The palace was then named in honour of the reigning empress and wife of Alexander II, Maria Alexandrovna.
The palace has two stories and large wings which form a large yard. The palace ensemble included gardens, greenhouses and a confectionary. Many extravagent balls were held in the palace when nobles came to visit.
During the reign of the last emperor, Nicholas II, the palace was used by his mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna. It was here that many members of her family, including grand dukes and grand duchesses came to visit her.
After the Russian Revolution, the palace was used as a school and museum. During World War II, the Maryinsky Palace was badly damaged. The palace was restored in the 1940s as well as the 1980s. Today the Maryinsky Palace is an official residence of the President of Ukraine.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 21 February, 2012