When Napoleon Bonaparte retreated from Moscow, Emperor Alexander I signed a manifest on 25 December 1812 declaring his intention to build a cathedral in honour of Christ the Saviour "to signify Our gratitude to Divine Providence for saving Russia from the doom that overshadowed Her" and as a memorial to the sacrifices of the Russian people.
On 22 September (O.S. 10 September), 1839 the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was solemnly founded by the Metropolitan of Moscow Filaret in Moscow to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the end of the Patriotic War and storming of Paris in March of 1814.
The idea to build the cathedral in recognition of the rescue of the Motherland from Napoleon’s armies was approved in 1812. Originally the magnificent building was planned to be built by the design of the architect A. L. Vitberg, but in 1832 the new project prepared by the architect K.A. Thon was approved instead. The site for the construction of the cathedral was chosen by the Emperor Nicholas I himself. It was the territory of the old Alexeevsky Monastery, whereas a decision was made to move the monastery to Krasnoye Selo (today the Novo-Alexeevky Monastery). Funds for the building’s construction was collected in all the churches of Russia, the enormous sum totalling over 15 million roubles was provided by the treasury.
The laying of the foundation stone of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was a declared national holiday, and included a military parade and a procession through Moscow to honour veterans of the Patriotic War of 1812 and prayers for those who perished on the battlefields.
On 22 September (O.S. 10 September) 1839 "...Russia’s mother - Moscow seethed in solemn ecstasy, ... Moscow residents flocked from all sides to the place of the solemn procession. The army already in order deployed from the Assumption Cathedral to the very place of foundation of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. On the other side, to the right of the Cathedral of the Assumption, on sidewalks, in windows and on rooftops crowded spectators of the great capital; everywhere prevailed silence .... " The solemn procession - the clergy in full vestments, the emperor and the entire retinue followed on horseback, "... to the place of execution on Red Square, by the church of St. Basil, along the embankment and Prechistenka by Carriage Court; it was led by Saint Filaret, Metropolitan of Moscow and Kolomna.
Upon arrival at the foundation site and having pronounced a prayer, Emperor Nicholas I in the base of the temple laid a cruciform bronze plaque with the inscription: "In the summer of 1839, the day of September 10th, by order of the Great Sovereign Emperor Nicholas Pavlovich the sacred vow, given by Emperor Alexander I who had passed away, is to be fulfilled by his own hand of Emperor Nicholas, failing to erect a temple of Christ the Saviour on the Sparrow Hills, as planned before, the foundation stone is laid at this place for the construction of the cathedral thereof.
The cathedral was being built from 1839 to 1883. Its height from the base to the cross reached 103.5 m, the thickness of the walls was 3 m 20 cm. The double walls had corridors, which contained 177 marble memorials with the description of the events of the Patriotic War of 1812 and Russian campaigns 1813–1814 in the chronological order. The cathedral was decorated by 38 painters: V. V. Vereshchagin, V. I. Surikov, K. E. Makovsky, F. A. Bruni, I. N. Kramskoy, G. I. Semiradsky etc.
The solemn ceremony of the cathedral’s opening took place on 26 May 1883, the year of Emperor Alexander III coronation. The veterans of the Patriotic War of 1812 were invited to the ceremony.
On 5 December 1931 the cathedral-memorial of military glory was destroyed on the order of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. The demolition was supposed to make way for a colossal Palace of the Soviets to house the country's legislature, the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. but the Great Patriotic War broke out and the building was disassembled. In 1958 the “Moskva” swimming-pool was constructed in its place.
In February 1990, the Russian Orthodox Church received permission from the Soviet Government to rebuild the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, a temporary cornerstone was laid to the east of the pool. By December 2000 the decoration work was completed. The new cathedral differs from the original one by the stylobate part (prolonged basement floor) that houses the Museum, the Hall of Church Assemblies, the Church of the Transfiguration, the Conference Hall of the Most Holy Governing Synod, refectory chambers and different technical services. However the new cathedral includes some old elements – marble memorial plaques from the bypass corridors and the fragments of the main iconostasis.
After the restoration the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour became the Cathedral of the Metropolitan of Moscow, where the main church festive services are held to this day. In 2000 the cathedral was the venue for the Canonization of the Romanovs when the last Tsar Nicholas II and his family were glorified as saints. On 17 May 2007, the Act of Canonical Communion between the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia was signed there. The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour is the tallest Orthodox church in the world, it’s cupolas dominate the Russian capital skyline.
On 20 September (O.S. 8 September), 1862, the Millennium of Russia Monument was inaugurated in the fortress city of Novgorod the Great opposite the Saint Sophia Cathedral, in the presence of Alexander II and members of the Imperial family.
Funds for the establishment of the monument had been partially collected by the All-Russian subscription. In 1859 a competition for the design of the monument was held, in which about forty sculptors and architects took part. The choice fell on the young artist and painter M. Mikeshin, who the year before had graduated from the Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg.
The monument had been constructed by a group of renowned sculptors – I. N. Schroeder, M. A. Chizhov, A. N. Laveretsky, R. K. Zaleman, A. M. Opekushin, A. M. Lyubimov, P. S. Mikhailov.
During the 1860s all the necessary materials were gathered and delivered to Novgorod. Bronze parts for the monument were cast at the factory of Plinke and Nichols in St. Petersburg. Granite for the monument’s foundation was brought from Serdobol'skii quarries on Lake Ladoga. By 13 July (O.S. 1 July), 1862 all the bronze groups, reliefs and the lattice made at the foundry were ready for the emperor’s inspection. Alexander II gave his approval, and soon the parts were transported by barge via the Neva and Volkhov Rivers to Novgorod.
The opening of the monument was scheduled for 20 September (O.S. 8 September), 1862. The preparations for it were enormous: Novgorod had been renovated and re-paved. Troops arrived in the city along with representatives of the nobility. On 19 September (O.S. 7 September), Emperor Alexander II arrived by steamboat, accompanied by his family and entourage. On 20 September (O.S. 8 September) the tsar received a deputation of the local gentry, inspected the troops formed for the parade, and then together with the Empress and his entourage headed for the Cathedral of St. Sophia, where he attended a divine liturgy. After that, the procession marched from the cathedral to the monument, around which the troops and the public stood on a specially constructed platforms. The unveiling of the monument was marked by a 62 gun salute, a military parade, and an official luncheon headed by the emperor himself. In the evening the festivities were held in the city.
The composition of the monument is shaped like a bell. The height of the monument is equal to 15.7 meters, diameter of the granite base is 9 m, the height of the sculptural groups is 3.7 m, height of the frieze on the podium - about 1.5 m, its length - about 27 meters, the weight of bronze casting is 65.5 tons.
The monument contains of 129 figures. Sculptural images are divided into three levels. The monument is crowned by the figure of a woman kneeling before the angel. The woman represents Russia. The middle part of the monument is occupied by six sculptural groups representing different periods of history of the Russian state: the creation of the state (Rurik with a shield), the adoption of Christianity (Prince Vladimir with a cross in his hand tells the farmer to break a pagan idol, from the other side a mother brings him a baby for baptism), victory on Kulikovo field (Dmitry Donskoy tramples a defeated Tatar warrior), the centralization of the Russian State (Ivan III in Monomakh’s Cap with orb and scepter in his hands, at his feet there are defeated rivals, behind - a figure of a Siberian, supporting a giant ball), beginning of the Romanov dynasty (sculptural group "The election of Mikhail Romanov to the throne" or "Minin and Pozharsky” - Kuzma Minin presents to young Michael imperial regalia), Peter's reforms (Peter I against the outstretched wings of the genius of Fame, at the feet of the emperor – a defeated Swede).
Ivan the Terrible is not among the statesmen due to his reputation as a fierce ruler, especially in Novgorod, because of the massacre perpetrated by oprichniki in Novgorod in 1570. Emperor Paul I, Arakcheev, Benckendorff are not represented on the monument either.
At high relief encircling the monument there are 109 people united in the four groups. The first is for “Enlighteners of people” among which are mainly clerics. The second group of "statesmen" is made up of princes and tsars. The third group shows the "Military men and heroes" (Prince Svyatoslav, Dovmont of Pskov, Alexander Nevsky, Ermak, Kozma Minin and Prince Pozharsky, Ivan Susanin, Bogdan Khmelnitsky, Kutuzov, Platov, Nakhimov, etc.).
The group of "Writers and artists" presents: Lomonosov, Fonvizin, Derzhavin, architect Kokorinov, actor Volkov, Krylov, Karamzin, Zhukovsky, Gnedich, Griboyedov, Lermontov, Pushkin, Gogol, Glinka, Bryullov.
During the World War II the monument was dismantled by the Nazis. The bronze grille and lights which stood around the monument (these elements are now lost) were moved away by railway. On 20 January, 1944 Novgorod was liberated by Soviet troops. The Committee for Architecture under the Soviet of People’s Commissars of USSR and the Executive Committee of the Leningrad Regional Council of People's Deputies decided to restore the monument. The Leningrad Regional Department of Architecture was in charge of the restoration. More than 1,500 missing details were reproduced. The monument was completely restored and inaugurated for the second time on November 2, 1944.
Unknown Faberge: New Finds and Re-discoveries Topic: Faberge
On view October 8, 2016 – February 26, 2017, The Museum of Russian Art’s Unknown Fabergé: New Finds and Re-discoveries exhibition brings to Minneapolis a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view beautifully crafted Fabergé objects; many of which will be displayed for the first time in an American museum. Unknown Fabergé will present both aesthetically stunning and thought-provoking artwork by conveying the role of Fabergé objects in the life of Russian society at that time.
Unknown Fabergé will unveil previously unknown and recently discovered objects from The House of Fabergé - the leading jeweller to the Russian Imperial Court. On loan primarily from private collections and museums in Europe and the United States, the exhibition will include more than 80 Fabergé objects crafted of gold, silver, wood as well as precious stones including jade, rubies, sapphires and emeralds. The array of Fabergé objects displayed include intricate jewellery, cigarette cases, timepieces, photograph frames, icons, and much more.
One piece in particular that promises to create much curiosity and excitement is the Imperial Bell Push which was purchased by Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and is known to have been used by the emperor and empress at Peterhof. Only recently discovered in a private collection in New York, the Imperial Bell Push has never before been displayed in an exhibition. Anywhere.
Unknown Fabergé: New Finds and Re-discoveries exhibition runs from Saturday, October 8, 2016 - Sunday, February 26, 2017 at the Museum of Russian Art in Minneapolis, MN.
On September 8th, a bust of the last Russian emperor Nicholas II was unveiled near the entrance to the Office of the Prosecutor General in Crimean city of Simferopol.
The bust is mounted on a pedestal in front of a small memorial chapel, which was constructed on the donations of employees of the department in honour of the Holy Royal Martyrs - Nicholas II and his family.
The building houses the office of Natalia Poklonskaya. In recent years, Crimea’s Prosecutor General has repeatedly demonstrated her admiration for Russia's last emperor:
- July 2016 Poklonskaya presented a new portrait of the last Russian Imperial family to Livadia Palace
- May 2016 Poklonskaya took part in a procession carrying an icon of Saint Nicholas II Tsar-Martyr of Russia
- October 2014 Poklonskaya presented 80 photoraphs of Emperor Nicholas II to the Livadia Palace-Museum
- On 20th July, 2014 Poklonskaya was awarded the Imperial Order of Saint Anastasia during a ceremony in Moscow by the Head of the Russian Imperial House, HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna
The bust in Simferopol is one of several monuments to Nicholas II in the Crimea:
- May 2016 a bust of Emperor Nicholas II was unveiled in Yalta
- May 2015 a bust of Emperor Nicholas II was unveiled at the Livadia Palace
- December 2014 a bust of Emperor Nicholas II was unveiled in Sevastopol
- September 2012 a monument to Emperor Nicholas II and Prince Lev Golitsyn was unveiled at Massandra in the village of Novy Svet
For the First Time: the 1925 Romanov Jewels Catalogue is Available Online Topic: Jewels
One of the approximately 20 copies of the Fersman catalogue known to exist today
One of the few surviving copies of a Bolshevik-era catalogue of royal jewels seized during the Russian Revolution is available to the public for the first time as part of a digitization project by the GIA. This 1925 catalogue, along with more than 200 other rare and historically significant books on gems and jewellery, is accessible on archive.org - click on the link to review the catalogue.
The catalogue of Russia’s regalia and crown jewels was photographed by mineralogist A.E. Fersman, with help from experts and jewellers including Agathon Faberge. According to Dona Dirlam, director of GIA’s library, “in 1925-26, the Bolshevik government published Russia’s Treasure of Diamonds and Precious Stones with the intention that the 406 Romanov jewels featured would never be sold. Eventually several of the pieces went to auction; approximately 20 copies of the Fersman catalogue are known to exist today”.
The jewels featured in the Fersman catalogue were collected by the Romanov dynasty, beginning with the reign of Peter the Great in 1689 until the overthrow of Emperor Nicolas II in 1917. Among the 406 treasures are the Imperial Sceptre set with the 189 carat Orlov diamond, the Imperial Globe set with a 200 carat sapphire, the Great Imperial Crown and the Imperial Nuptial Crown.
For additional information on this exceptional catalogue and it's contents, please refer to the following articles:
The monument to Tsar Ivan IV, more popularly known as “Ivan the Terrible” was expected to be unveiled in Oryol on September 3 two days before the city’s 450th anniversary
An Oryol district court has temporarily banned the installation of Russia’s first statue to Tsar Ivan IV at a site proposed by the city authorities, the court’s press service said on September 13.
The Zavodskoy court began reviewing a lawsuit filed by an unnamed individual who said the monument’s construction was in a historic preservation zone of another site - the Magistrate building - which violates Russian law.
The monument to Ivan IV, who in 1566 founded Oryol, a city located some 320 kilometers south of Moscow, was expected to be unveiled on September 3 two days before the city’s 450th anniversary.
The plans were put on hold in mid-June after several pickets had been held against erecting the statue at two other proposed sites in the city. An opinion poll showed that most citizens were absolutely against building such a monument to the tsar in Oryol.
Authorities had proposed some 20 other sites in the city’s downtown area, in the outskirts and in parks, but between 1% and 4% respondents backed the plans, a poll that interviewed 450 people revealed.
Another monument to Ivan the Terrible may be erected in the Vladimir region, to the east of Moscow, in front of the tsar’s residence in the Alexandrovskaya village. The three-meter-long statue could be installed on the shore of the Seraya River.
Of Bygone Days by Rear Admiral Semyon S. Fabritsky Topic: Books
Gilbert’s Books - the publishing division of Royal Russia - is pleased to present the first English translation of the memoirs of Rear Admiral Semyon Semyonovich Fabritsky, Aide-de-Camp to the Emperor Nicholas II
The time I spent with Their Majesties - over the course of many years and under varied circumstances - will always be the source of my most precious memories, and I am very happy to be able to share those memories now with a wide public. I hope at least to give an absolutely truthful account of what I saw and heard - Semyon S. Fabritsky
Semyon Semyonovich Fabritsky (1874-1941) had a fascinating career during the twilight years of Imperial Russia. He began his naval career in the very first days of the reign of Emperor Nicholas II.
He was later personally appointed Flügel-Adjutant by the Emperor himself, a position he served with immense pride and devotion.
During his service to Nicholas II, Fabritsky earned both the trust and friendship of the Emperor. Through his often uninterrupted contact with Russia’s last sovereign and observing him at all hours and under a variety of conditions, Fabritsky was able to form a clear picture of Nicholas II and his family, through his own personal eye-witness observations.
He also served aboard the Imperial yachts, partaking in holidays with the Emperor and his family to the Crimea and the Finnish skerries. He shares interesting details and anecdotes about the Polar Star, Alexandria, and Standart.
Fabritsky provides great insight to the treachery, cowardice, and deceit which prevailed every where. He acknowledges ministers and generals who were either unworthy of their posts or unfit for them. Sadly, it was these men which surrounded Nicholas II during his twenty-two and a half year reign, who contributed to the downfall of monarchy and the destruction of the Russian Empire in 1917.
This first English translation with introduction and notes by William Lee includes 192 pages, illustrated. Price: $20.00 Canadian dollars + postage. Available from the Royal Russia Bookshop.
Click on the order button below to order your copy or to review our current catalogue:
Police have charged a male video blogger who filmed himself playing 'Pokemon Go' inside the Church of All Saints in Ekaterinburg. More commonly known as the Church on the Blood, it was built on the site of the Ipatiev House, where the Russian Imperial family were murdered in 1918. This blatant act of disrespect is a very sad reflection on our society today.
Police have charged Ruslan Sokolovsky, the video blogger who filmed himself playing Pokemon Go inside a Ekaterinburg church, with committing extremism and offending religious sensitivities. Sokolovsky has been detained and awaits trial on September 3 to determine if he will be arrested, his lawyer says. If convicted, Sokolovsky could face several years in prison.
On August 11, Sokolovsky published a video on his YouTube channel showing him entering the Church of All Saints in Ekaterinburg and playing Pokemon Go on his iPhone throughout the cathedral. In a short speech at the beginning of the video, Sokolovsky says he rejects warnings reported in the media that playing Pokemon Go in churches could result in a prison sentence.
“This is complete nonsense,” Sokolovsky said, standing outside the Church of All Saints. “Who could get offended if you’re just walking around with your smart phone in a church?”
In mid-August, Valery Gorelykh, the regional police spokesperson, told local reporters that he personally wanted to see Sokolovsky sent to prison for “at least five years,” arguing that an example should be made, to discourage more Pokemon Go players from committing such blasphemy.
In early 2016, Sokolovsky launched a self-titled atheist magazine, writing, “We have been inspired by Charlie Hebdo and have decided that there are also too few such publications in Russia that take an absolutely amoral approach to ridiculing the contemporary national reality. Using the written word to take on the censorship piling on from all sides and what’s practically a police state now isn’t a new idea, but it’s just as relevant today as ever.”
Click on the link below to watch Sokolovsky’s video (in Russian):