The Admiralty is one St. Petersburg's oldest and most important buildings, opposite the Winter Palace and the focal point for three of the city's main central streets - Nevsky Prospekt, Gorokhovaya Ulitsa, and Voznesenskiy Prospekt.
The original Admiralty Yard was built in 1706 to plans by Peter the Great himself, and the site was chosen to be within range of the canon of the Peter and Paul Fortress, so the building could be destroyed if captured by the enemy. A U-shaped earth structure with an internal canal, it served as the shipyard that built the backbone of the nascent Russian Navy.
The original stone Admiralty building was erected in 1719, and this marked the first appearance of the Admiralty Spire with its ship weathervane, which was to become one of the most recognizable symbols of St. Petersburg. The building now standing, with its magnificent 400m facade facing the Alexandrovsky Garden and its massive wings embracing three blocks along the Admiralty Embankment (Admiralteyskaya Naberezhnaya), took 17 years to build and was completed in 1823. It was the masterpiece of architect Adrian Zakharov, who executed the building in the high classical style of Russian Empire.
The shipyard was officially closed in 1844. In nearly 140 years it had produced 262 warships. The building then became home to the Sea Ministry, the Central Naval Headquarters, the Naval Museum, and the Revolutionary Naval Committee. Since 1925, it has housed the Dzerzhinsky Higher Naval College.