Although the Vorontsov Palace is not open to the public and has never played a major role in Russian history, it is still likely to catch visitors' attention thanks to its prominent position across Sadovaya Ulitsa from the Gostiny Dvor shopping arcade in the very centre of St. Petersburg, and for its ornate and beautifully proportioned baroque facade.
The palace was built between 1749 and 1757 by Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli for Count Mikhail Illarionovich Vorontsov, a prominent statesman and diplomat in the reigns of Empresses Elizabeth and Catherine the Great. Vorontsov ran up such debts decorating his new home that, by 1763, he was forced to sell the building to the Imperial Estates. The palace was passed by Paul I to the Knights of Malta, a large contingent of whom arrived in St. Petersburg after Napoleon took the island of Malta in 1798.
The Maltese Kapella, added at the time, is one of the palace's finest structures, but unfortunately be seen by the public during rare concert performances. In 1810 it became the home of the Page Corps of His Imperial Majesty, the most elite military college in Russia. To this day, the building houses the St. Petersburg branch of the Suvorov Military College.