This charming summer palace on one of the islands in the north-west of St. Petersburg was commissioned in 1818 by Alexander I from the young architect, Carlo Rossi, who would go on to become the undisputed master of neo-classicism in the city.
The land and the original palace had been bought for the Imperial Estates from the heirs of Ivan Yelagin, a historian, poet, and statesman in the reign of Catherine the Great. Alexander chose it as the site of a summer residence for his mother, Empress Maria Fyodrovna, who found the journey between the city and her permanent home at Pavlovsk too wearisome. Rossi was responsible not only for the design of the palace building, but also for the stables and kitchen building, three pavilions in the palace grounds, and for much of the interior decoration of the palace, which feature richly painted marble walls and intricately inlaid wooden doors.
After Maria Fyodorovna's death, Yelagin Palace was never again the official residence of any member of the Imperial family - although it was the residence of Alexander II's morganatic wife, Duchess Yuryevskaya, and her children - and, by the time of the October Revolution, it had become a summer retreat for Russia's prime ministers. Briefly turned into a museum by the Bolshevik government, the palace was badly damaged during the Siege of Leningrad, but fully restored in the 1950s following photographs and the original blueprints and used as a resort for workers. Since 1987, Yelagin Palace has been home to the Museum of Decorative and Applied Art and Interiors from the 18th-20th Centuries. Exhibitions are hosted on the second floor of the building, while the ground floor is devoted to Rossi's restored interiors.