Commissioned by Catherine the Great and built by renowned architect Giacomo Quarenghi, the palace was unveiled in 1796 as a royal residence.
In 1905-17, the palace was the permanent residence of Nicholas II and his family to eventually become their initial place of imprisonment after the February 1917 revolution. That summer, the family was sent to Siberia into internal exile which ended up with their death in 1918 after the Bolsheviks had come to power. Same year, the palace was converted into a museum.
In the 1930s, it also accommodated a vacation retreat for Stalin’s police and an orphanage.
Under Nazi occupation, the palace housed the German headquarters, Gestapo offices, and a jail in the basement. Its front square was turned into an SS cemetery.
After the WWII, it took decades before restoration work in the palace was begun to be completed as late as August 2021.