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The Twelve Colleges by Domenico Trezzini was built in 1722-1742 to house the Imperial Ministries ("Colleges"). The legend has it that Peter the Great wanted the 400-long building to parallel the Neva River, but Men'shikov, the Governor of St. Petersburg and Peter's close friend, disobeyed his suzerain's orders.
In the early 1800s, the Ministries began moving out, while the Main Pedagogical Institute was moving in in their place. The Institute was reorganized into St. Petersburg Imperial University in 1819.
St. Petersburg State University, view from St. Isaac's