Tsarskoye Selo Hosts Imperial Porcelain Exhibit Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
A new exhibit Imperial Porcelain. The Binding Thread, will premiere on July 23rd in the Grotto Pavilion located in the Catherine Park at Tsarskoye Selo. The exhibit coincides with the 270th anniversary of the Imperial Porcelain Factory.
Exhibition organizers are heralding the exhibit as a unique opportunity to trace the history of the St. Petersburg school of porcelain art. The event will showcase approximately 200 works, including a number of rare porcelain pieces from the Imperial Porcelain Factory (still in operation) and from the storage rooms of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum. The collection from the latter presents Russian, Western European and Far Eastern porcelain, the formation of a collection which is inextricably linked with the history of three centuries of the imperial residence.
Tsarskoye Selo was the venue for important state receptions for nearly two centuries, hosting formal dinners, balls and masquerades. The summer residence was also a favourite of the imperial family, where they found peace and solitude. The palace interiors were decorated with splendid vases of various shapes and sizes, with moulded handles, and unique pieces of porcelain depicting the famous paintings by European masters from the Imperial Porcelain Factory (IPE), who worked exclusively for the needs of the Imperial Court.
The exhibition Imperial Porcelain. The Binding Thread, runs until September 30, 2014 at the Grotto Pavilion (above) located in the Catherine Park at Tsarskoye Selo.
Gatchina: From the Imperial Age to Today Topic: Gatchina
Gatchina Palace served as a favorite residence of Emperors Paul I and Alexander III
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the July 20th, 2014 edition of Russia Beyond the Headlines. The author Veronika Prokhorova, owns the copyright presented below.
Gatchina is one of the most beautiful and enigmatic suburbs of St. Petersburg. It was the favorite residence of Emperors Paul I and Alexander III. Gatchina is also considered the birthplace of the Russian military air force, and it is here that the Maltese Order met
Gatchina’s history dates back to the start of the eighteenth century, when Tsar Peter I decreed the construction of an estate that he gifted to his favorite sister, Natalia Alekseevna. After the death of the Tsar, the estate was repeatedly passed from one owner to another until it was acquired by Empress Catherine II -- she complained about the estate to her favorite count Grigory Orlov, who then commenced active construction at Gatchina. After the death of Count Orlov, Gatchina became the residence of Paul I, who lived there for 18 years and granted Gatchina city status and its own coat of arms. Later the city came under the ownership of Maria Feodorovna, then Nicholas I, Alexander I, Alexander II and Nicholas II.
Gatchina is known for its palace and park. The royal palace is like a secluded castle, rising over the peaceful waters. One of the oldest buildings of the park, established under the first owner of Gatchina, Grigory Orlov, is the Eagle Pavilion, allegedly sponsored by V. Brenna. The pavilion is a circular temple -- the rotunda is 9.5 meters tall. It features a semicircular colonnade of ten Tuscan columns with a semi-dome roof decorated with coffers and seashells. Its stairs consist of three steps leading to a stylobate made of pure ashlar stone. The colonnade is crowned with an eagle, carved out of white marble, holding a shield with Paul I’s monogram.
One of the most romantic spots in the Palace Park is the Humped Bridge, which spans the Long Island across the channel that links the Silver and White lakes. The Humped Bridge consists of three main parts -- two strong abutments and a steep arch span.
The main building of the ensemble is the Palace of Paul (or Gatchina Palace). It was originally built by the architect Rinaldi for Catherine’s favorite, Count Orlov. Rinaldi designed a magnificent castle on the hill in front of Silver Lake. The three-story main building is decorated at the sides with high pentahedral towers, while two galleries withdraw to auxiliary wings their own closed courtyards -- the Arsenal and Kitchen wings. A collection of Italian paintings, assembled by the estate’s owners, is located on the top floor of the palace. Later Gatchina was passed on to Paul I, who invited the architect Vincenzo Brenna to reconstruct the palace.
The Menagerie occupies a large territory in the northern region of the Park and was intended for the court’s hunting. Part of the Menagerie is called Miracle Glade. It is now a specially protected nature territory, where rare plants grow.
The main road of Gatchina is 25th of October Prospect, which begins immediately upon entrance of Gatchina, behind a circular square, which is followed by district buildings. A planned development district, Hohlovo Fields, stretched from this area to the Orlov groves. Until the October Revolution, ladies-in-waiting and other palace folk lived in this area. After World War II a sanatorium kindergarten was located here. There is also a cemetery of German soldiers and not far from the kindergarten were concentration camps, in which many Soviet prisoners of war were killed during the war. At the turn of the fifties and sixties construction began on a residential town for employees of the Leningrad Institute of Nuclear Physics. Later the streets of Hoholovo were taken over, the fragile houses with sheds were removed and brick houses were built in their place.
The Priory Palace, situated in the park at Gatchina was built during the reign of Emperor Paul I
Next go to Sobornaya Street, and if you walk towards the center, the majestic Cathedral of St. Paul, with its sky blue domes, will rise in front of you. A few years before World War II the congregation was dissolved and the church building was reconstructed under the Culture House with a cinema. During the war, church services were reinstated and were used to hide wounded officers of the Soviet army from the Germans.
The Gatchina “Arbat” begins behind the church. Previously a market was located in this area, but now there are stores, cafes, and restaurants, as well as a small shopping center nearby. A “Cloth Factory” building is also located in front of the former market square. It has had that name since Paul I situated skilled seamstresses, who made Prussian-model uniforms out of red and green cloth for his soldiers.
An old, stone, two-story building in an eclectic style is located on Krasnaya Street. Long corridors and identical doors can be found inside the building. Before and during the war, this was a prison. It is said that in Gatchina there were many prisons with solitary confinement, in which it was only possible to sit on one’s haunches, which was thus called “glass.” Old residents say that the Germans were equipped with this “convenience.”
The grand, dark-red brick St. Basil’s Cathedral can be found to the right of the market. The cathedral was consecrated in 1914, and soon after World War I began. The cathedral was left at such and not plastered. During Soviet times the cathedral housed a warehouse and only resumed service at the end of the eighties.
The Warsaw Station is also notable in Gatchina. In 2013 the 160th anniversary of the arrival of the first railroad in Gatchina was celebrated. The modern Warsaw Station is a post-war building built in the strict and sparse style in pale-yellow. Before the war, the building was adorned with colored bricks and consisted of a long hall with arched windows and doors; the covered platform adjoined the building via stalls.
Another attraction of Gatchina, built at the very end of the eighteenth century under the orders of Paul I, is the Priory Palace and its landscaped park, built on a swamp on the shore of the Black Lake. The palace is surprising because, with the exception of its tall tower and socle, it is made of pure sifted earth, moistened with solution, and closely packed into form. This unique technique was used by the architect N.A. Lvov.
The palace was intended to serve for only 20 years, but it has stood for three centuries, a feat that could well be listed in the Guinness Book of Records. It owes its name to the Maltese Order, of which Paul I was a patron. The palace was constructed as a residence for the Prior -- one of the chief dignitaries of the Order, a French émigré, Prince de Conde. Conde never came to Gatchina, and the castle was instead used by the Russian Maltese Order for meetings.
Many streets in Gatchina are named for Russian and Soviet pilots, which is not surprising, since Gatchina is renowned for housing the first Russian aviation school. In 1909, a region near Gatchina was designated for testing airplanes, and the first military airfield was established there. In autumn of the following year, training began in the Officer Aeronautical School, which at the start of World War I was reorganized as the Gatchina Higher Aviation School. Graduates of the school included the famous pilot Pyotr Nesterov, author of the “death loop” and the first air ram in battle, which resulted in his death. The first Russian female pilot, L.V Zvereva, also graduated from the Gatchina Higher Aviation School. In 2002, Gatchina opened the only museum of aviation engine history in Russia.
The Legendary Journey of Peter the Great Topic: Peter the Great
Peter the Great at Deptford Dockyard. Artist: Daniel Maclise, 1857
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the July 18th, 2014 edition of Russia Beyond the Headlines. The author Joe Crescente, owns the copyright presented below.
Peter the Great travelled to many different countries on his educational voyage in the last years of the 17th and elements of the European lifestyle: all of which went on to help shape modern Russia
Nicholas II was the first Russian Tsar to travel to the Far East and Siberia. However, the inspiration for educational trips for future heirs to the crown came from Peter the Great’s legendary European journey of 1697-1698.
Peter the Great was that rare autocrat that liked to lead by example. He viewed his trip to Europe as a journey of knowledge that would have the potential to positively impact the people.
From an early age Peter was fascinated by shipbuilding and sailing, and always had ambitions of making Russia a major maritime power. When Peter became the sole ruler of Russia in 1696, the Russian Empire had access to only one port, in the North Sea at Arkhangelsk. At the time the north Baltic Sea was controlled by Sweden, and the Black and Caspian Seas were commanded respectively by the Ottoman Empire and the Safavid dynasty, an early Persian state. After capturing the fortress of Azov from the Ottomans in July 1696, Peter was determined to gain further access to the Black Sea. But, he knew that at that moment Russia couldn’t take on the Ottoman Empire alone.
Thus, Peter came up with the idea of his Grand Embassy, a diplomatic mission with the goal of securing allied support against the Ottoman Empire. In particular this trip sought to strengthen the Holy League, a union of Christian empires that Pope Innocent XI had formed in 1684. Russia joined in 1686. Peter also sought to use this journey to acquire knowledge and technology and hire foreign specialists for service in Russia.
In 1697 Peter set off with a 250-person entourage on an 18-month journey. Officially the “Embassy” was headed by three of his closest advisers and Peter used a pseudonym throughout the trip, Pyotr Mikhailov, as he wished to be anonymous. Although Peter was the first Tsar to travel abroad, he was easily recognizable as he was more than two meters tall. Records from the time attest that few European leaders were fooled by the disguise.
The first leg of the trip was considered unsuccessful. He met with the heads of France and Austria. France was unwavering in its support for the Ottoman Sultan and the Austrian leader was mostly concerned with keeping things quiet to their east, so that they could pursue their objectives to the west. Europeans on the whole were largely uninterested in Peter’s ambitions.
From there, Peter moved on to the Netherlands, where he took on an apprenticeship as a shipbuilder in Zaandam (the house where he lived is now a museum: http:/ /www.zaansmuseum.nl/index.php?id=52). For the Tsar, learning about naval technology was crucial to his objective of creating a truly modern navy, and Dutch sailing vessels were considered among the most advanced in the world at the time. The home where Peter stayed belonged to Gerrit Kist, a Dutch blacksmith that had worked for a stint in Moscow for the Tsar. Kist and the Tsar remained friends for life.
Peter’s visit to the Netherlands was the most influential of any country he visited. There, he acquired not just technical knowledge, but also learned about how Europeans lived. One notable technology that Peter discovered was the fire hose. This was especially important considering the prevalence of fires in 17th Moscow. He learned about the technology from its inventor, Jan van der Heyden. Afterwards he went to Amsterdam and with a little help from its mayor, Nicolaas Witsen (an expert on shipbuilding), Peter was able to put what he had learned in Zaandam to use by going to work at the largest shipbuilding yard in the world. He spent four months at the wharf, which was owned by the Dutch East India Company. In addition to acquiring vast maritime knowledge, Peter also set to work hiring skilled workers, sailors, and lock builders. But his biggest prize was probably luring Cornelis Cruys, a high-ranking official in the Dutch Navy, to come to Russia. There, he was appointed the vice-admiral for the Russian Navy and became the most influential adviser to the Tsar for maritime affairs for decades to come.
From Holland Peter moved on to England, where he met King William III and toured the cities of Oxford and Manchester, where he learned about city planning. He would put this knowledge to use several years later when he founded St. Petersburg. After England, Peter’s entourage collectively journeyed to the cities of Leipzig, Dresden, and Vienna, and met with August the Strong, the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, and Leopold I, the Holy Roman Emperor and a frequent antagonist of the Ottoman Empire.
Peter was forced to return early to Russia in 1698, as the Streltsy—armed Russian guard units—had rebelled. The uprising was crushed before Peter made it back from England.
Peter was very impressionable during his “Embassy” and came back convinced that certain European customs were superior to Russian ones. Peter announced upon his return that nobles had to cut their beards (or pay a tax) and wear European clothing. The calendar was changed to better align with the European one. The rest of Peter’s reign until his death in 1725 was marked by several victories over Sweden, which led to Russia’s status as the supreme power in northeastern Europe. While Russian troops engaged Ottoman forces on several occasions, no significant settlements were made. St. Petersburg was founded in 1703 and the country began to look west.
One of the first things that Peter did upon his return was to divorce his wife, Eudoxia Lopukhina. For Peter the Great it really was out with the “old” and in with the “new” after this life-changing journey.
A Russian Moment No 41 - The Yelagin Palace, St. Petersburg Topic: A Russian Moment
The Yelagin Palace was built during the reign of Alexander I for his mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna (wife of Emperor Paul I)
This charming summer palace located on one of the islands in the north-west of St. Petersburg was commissioned in 1818 by Emperor Alexander I from the young architect, Carlo Rossi, who would go on to become the undisputed master of neo-classicism in the city.
The land and the original palace had been bought for the Imperial Estates from the heirs of Ivan Yelagin, a historian, poet, and statesman in the reign of Catherine the Great. Alexander chose it as the site of a summer residence for his mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna (wife of Emperor Paul I), who found the journey between the city and her permanent home at Pavlovsk too wearisome. Rossi was responsible not only for the design of the palace building, but also for the stables and kitchen building, the pavilion with a granite pier, the guardhouse, the music pavilion and for much of the interior decoration of the palace, which feature richly painted marble walls and intricately inlaid wooden doors. The palace was completed in 1826.
Sadly, the palace served as the summer residence of Maria Feodorovna for only two years. After Maria Feodorovna's death in 1828, the Yelagin Palace became the summer residence of her younger son, Nicholas Pavlovich (Emperor Nicholas I). The palace then remained deserted for long periods of time. Emperor Nicholas II leased it to his prime ministers such as Sergei Witte, Pyotr Stolypin, and Ivan Goremykin.
After the Revolution, the palace was briefly turned into a museum by the Bolshevik government. The palace was badly damaged during the Siege of Leningrad, but fully restored in the 1950s based on photographs and the original blueprints and used as a resort for workers. Since 1987, the Yelagin Palace has been home to the Museum of Decorative and Applied Art and Interiors from the 18th-20th Centuries. Exhibitions are hosted on the second floor of the building, while the ground floor is devoted to Rossi's restored interiors.
Anna Vyrubova's House at Tsarskoye Selo Hosts Rare Exhibition Topic: Vyrubova, Anna
A rare exhibition opened last week in the former home of Anna Vyrubova at Tsarskoye Selo. The Anna Vyrubova - A History in Photographs opened on July 17th at Vyrubova’s home which is situated at No. 4 Ulitsa Srednya, near both the Catherine and Alexander Palace’s. According to the web site Pushkin.ru the exhibit will run until August 17th.
The exhibition is a joint venture prepared by the Department of Culture, the Pushkin District Administration of St. Petersburg, the St. Petersburg SBD Chamber Choir, and the Yale University Library in New York City (USA).
Anna Vyrubova (1884-1964), was a lady-in-waiting, friend and confidante of the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. Vyrubova purchased the house in 1907 and lived there up until 1917. It consisted of a dining room, a drawing room with an upright piano on which she played duets with the empress, and three bedrooms on the first floor. A telephone was installed in the Drawing Room with a direct line to the Alexander Palace nearby.
It was here at “Anna’s little cottage” that she received and entertained Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, their children, as well as Grigorii Rasputin.
Vyrubova describes her little abode in her memoirs, Memories of the Russian Court, published in 1923:
“. . . my little house in Tsarskoye Selo, its modest furnishings beautified by many gifts from the Empress. Among these gifts were some charming pictures and six exquisitely embroidered antique chairs. A silver-laden tea table helped to make the salon cozy, and I have many happy memories of intimate teas to which the Empress sent fruit and the Emperor the cherry brandy which he especially affected.
The little house, however, was far from being the luxurious palace in which I have often been pictured of living. As a matter of fact, it was frightfully cold in winter because the house had no stone foundation but rested on the frozen earth. Sometimes when the Emperor and Empress came to tea we sat with our feet on the sofa to keep warm. Once the Emperor jokingly told me that after a visit to my house he kept himself from freezing only by going directly to a hot bath.”
Anna Vyrubova’s former home as it looks today. It is situated at No. 4 Ulitsa Srednya, near both the Catherine and Alexander Palace’s.
Every day hundreds of visitors to Tsarskoye Selo walk past it not realizing the history behind the famous house with a Romanov legacy.
A former owner of Vyrubova’s house was Tepper de Ferguson (1768-1838), a composer and music teacher from the Tsarskoye Selo Lyceum. In the early 1800s, he taught music to Grand Duchesses Helena, Maria, Ekaterina, and Anna, the younger sisters of the Emperor Alexander I. In 1811-1812, he gave music lessons to Elizabeth Alexeievna (Louise of Baden), the Consort of Alexander I. Other notable guests included a young Alexander Pushkin, who along with his schoolmates attended musical evening parties at de Ferguson’s home.
Anna Vyrubova was an avid photographer, a hobby she shared with all the members of the last Russian Imperial family. She escaped to Finland in 1920, taking with her six Romanov family photo albums, containing hundreds of pictures taken between 1907 and 1915. The albums are indeed a truly remarkable survival. Today, they are held at the Beinecke Library, Yale University in the United States.
In recent years, the tiny lemon-yellow house on Ulitsa Srednya in Pushkin (Tsarskoye Selo) served as a wedding palace where the locals came to marry. Occasionally it hosts concerts, however, this is the first exhibition to my knowledge to be held in Anna Vyrubova’s former residence.
Communists Lay Flowers at the Grave of the Murderer of Russia's Imperial Family Topic: Bolsheviks
On July 16th Sverdlovsk communists laid flowers at the grave of the killer of the Romanov family, the revolutionary Peter Ermakov. The ceremony was headed by Alexander Ivachev, leader of the local Communist Party Branch.
Peter Ermakov, born at Ekaterinburg in 1884 was a Bolshevik commissar, notable as having been among those responsible for the murders of Tsar Nicholas II, his immediate family, and their retinue. In 1935, Ermakov gave an interview to the American journalist Richard Halliburton, describing the burning and destruction of the bodies of the Imperial family and their servants. He died in 1952 at the age of 70.
Ivachev issued the following statement the day before: "Tomorrow, July 16th, the Sverdlovsk Komsomol will lay flowers at the grave of the revolutionary Peter Ermakov enforcing the decision of the Ural Regional Council for the execution of Nicholas II and his family. The event is dedicated to the beginning of the Tsar's Days,"- said the head of the Sverdlovsk branch of the Communist Party.
He also confirmed that several days ago, the monument was doused with red paint, the second time since the 90s and that the Communists intend to clean it up and lay flowers. Local monarchists are blamed for dousing Ermakov’s grave. The red paint being symbolic of the blood this evil man spilled and his involvement with one of the most heinous crimes in 20th century Russian history.
Saints Martha and Mary Convent in Moscow Celebrate the Feast-Day of its Foundress Topic: Elizabeth Feodorovna GD
Today, July 18th is the feast-day of the Holy New Martyrs Grand Duchess Elizabeth (Romanova) and Nun Barbara (Yakovleva). The 96th anniversary of their martyrdom is celebrated this year.
On this day, the SS. Martha and Mary Convent of Mercy in Moscow opened their doors, inviting all who wish to come to take part in the festive events, dedicated to commemoration of the Holy Grand Duchess.
As Lyubov Petrovna Miller writes in her book, “Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna is among those saints of whom it can be said that their holiness is self-evident and indisputable. St. Elizabeth’s holiness is confirmed by her ascetic life, her martyrdom during which she prayed for her murderers, and, finally, by the fragrance exuding from her holy relics.”
Highlights of the Festival Program included:
09:00 a.m. - Divine Liturgy begins in the Holy Protection Church of the Convent
11:30 a.m. - All the Convent’s guests of the Feast will be offered refreshments in the Convent garden
12:30 p.m. - Concert of the St. John Damascene Children’s and Youth Choir in the Holy Protection Church
2:00 p.m. - Tea in the Convent garden. A big surprise awaits the children. Tours of the Convent and Grand Duchess Elizabeth’s house will be organized for all who wish.
3:30 p.m. - String Quartet concert in the Convent garden pavilion with performers from the Bolshoy Theater “Bohemia” and the winner of international competitions Olga Philatova (soprano), and also the brass quintet of the P.I. Tchaikovsky Conservatory. There will be selections by both Russian composers and composers from abroad for string and wind instruments.
12:00-5:00 Convent garden: Games, competitions, and master-classes for the children.
The SS. Martha and Mary Convent of Mercy is situated at 34 Bol’shaya Ordynka Street, Moscow.
Holy Royal Martyrs Commemorated in Ekaterinburg on Their Feast-Day Topic: Holy Royal Martyrs
The night of July 16/17 is a tragic date in the history of Russia. On this day in Ekaterinburg, the Russian Tsar Nicolas II, Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna, their children as well as their faithful servants were brutally murdered. The Church “on the Blood” in honour of All Saints who have Shone Forth in the Russian Land, has now been built on the site of the crime. And the tragic night annually gathers thousands of pilgrims to this site from all over Russia and other countries for prayer, reports the News Agency of the Ekaterinburg Diocese.
The tradition of commemorating the martyred Royal Family began long before their canonization as Royal Martyrs. In 1992, Archbishop Melchisedek (Lebedev) of Sverdlovsk and Kurgan first gave a blessing to celebrate a service here and hold a procession of the Cross to the site of the destruction of their holy relics at Ganina Yama (“Ganya’s Pit”).
On these days of the Royal Martyrs, in spite of the torrential rain (the first such in 22 years) tens of thousands of Ekaterinburg residents, pilgrims from all the corners of Russia and from abroad gathered to honour the Holy Passion-Bearers.
Celebration of Small Vespers, Vigil service and Divine Liturgy on the night of the martyrdom of the Royal Family on the porch of the Church on the Blood was headed by permanent member of the Holy Synod Metropolitan Vikenty of Tashkent and Uzbekistan, Metropolitan Nikon of Ufa and Sterlitamak, Metropolitan Kirill of Ekaterinburg and Verkhoturye, Bishop Markell of Beltsy and Falesti, Bishop Nikodim of Edinet and Briceni, Bishop Innocent of Nizhny Tagil and Serov, Bishop Nicolas of Salavat and Kumertau, Bishop Ambrose of Neftekamsk and Birsk, Bishop Methodius of Kamensk-Uralsky and Alapayevsk with several hundred priests and deacons concelebrating.
Before the Divine Liturgy Metropolitan Kirill addressed the sea of people gathered in front of the Church on the Blood with his archpastor’s speech on the Holy Royal Martyrs, especially stressing the deep connection between the podvig (feat/ascetic struggle) of St. Sergius of Radonezh (the Church celebrates the 700th anniversary of his birth in 2014) and the feat of the Holy Royal Martyrs.
During the singing of troparia at the Little Entrance “Eternal memory” was proclaimed to the Royal Passion-Bearers’ servants, martyred together with them on July 17, 1918.
After the Litany of Fervent Supplication a prayer for peace in the Ukraine was offered up.
At the Litany of the Departed special prayers were offered up for His Beatitude the newly-reposed Metropolitan Vladimir (Sabodan) of Kiev and All the Ukraine; the servants of the Royal Family, who remained faithful to them even to the death; the victims of the Moscow underground railway (subway/Metro) accident; and those slain in the fratricidal war in the Ukraine.
Because of the extremely large number of communicants the clergy of the Ekaterinburg Diocese gave Holy Communion from 100 chalices.
Soyuz (Union) TV channel carried live coverage of the service to 127 countries of the world.
After the Liturgy the traditional 21-kilometre-long night procession of the Cross from the Church on the Blood to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs was held, following the way by which the slain martyrs were brought in 1918.
Today, on the feast-day of the Holy Royal Martyrs, services are being celebrated non-stop at both the church and the monastery. And tomorrow, on July 18, services will be celebrated in Alapayevsk, where the New Martyrs Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna Romanova and Nun Barbara were martyred.