Count Vorontsov's Palace: Odessa, Ukraine
To experience more of the history of Odessa, walk to the northern end of Primorsky Boulevard and here you’ll find the Palace of the Governor General Mikhail Semenovich Vorontsov. The Palace is yet another architectural design of F. Boffo, who during his forty years living in Odessa was prolific in designing some fifty of the classical buildings that we are able to enjoy today.
The building that we see today is only the front part of the original structure. The Orlov wing comprising mainly apartments and outbuildings and considered the less valuable part of the complex, was torn down. On the front, Tony noticed some Arabic inscriptions, but due to the lack of English translation, we were not able to make out its significance.
On the seafront side of the palace, an elegant white rock colonnade in the shape of an arc forms part of the Palace structure. This Grecian-looking colonnade comprises ten pairs of Tuscan pillars and from here you have a panoramic view of the port area. This must be a popular wedding photography location and when we were there a young couple arrived in their horse and carriage.
Mikhail Semenovich Vorontsov comes from a family best remembered for their influence on the development of Russian culture and history after the palace revolution of 1741. When Empress Elisabeth ascended to the throne, the Vorontsovs served as chancellors, viceroys, field marshals, senators, and ambassadors, among many other positions. In the 18th century Mikhail Illarionovich became chancellor and his niece, Ekaterina Romanovna Dashkova (nee Vorontsova) was director of the Imperial Academy of Sciences as well as president and founder of the Russian Academy. Her brother Alexander was chancellor at the beginning of the 19th century and their nephew, Mikhail Semenovich, was later viceroy of the Caucasus.
When Mikhail was young, his father chose to carry out his diplomatic duties in England and Venice so that his children could have the best of education. Mikhail himself was an exceptional individual who played an active part in the development of Odessa. Of aristocratic background, he could have had his pick of the highest positions at court and in the army when he returned to Russia, yet he asked to be appointed a mere lieutenant and went to the frontline to fight in the real war. He is believed to have been on the battlefield practically without a break for about twenty years. His successes at battles won him many promotions and imperial awards, culminating in Tsar Nicholas elevating him to the rank of Prince in recognition of his services during the Caucasus campaign and of the imperial debt owed him.
In 1936 the palace became the children’s palace for young pioneers. After the war, it was named in memory of sixteen-year-old Young Communist League member Yakov Gordienko. When we were there the place was deserted, but for a resident band practising their very loud Western music.