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Friday, 22 August 2014
Reconstruction in the Kremlin to Surpass all the Project's Ever Coordinated With UNESCO
Topic: Kremlin

The Chudov Monastery was destroyed during the Soviet years
Reconstruction of the monastery on the territory of the Moscow Kremlin will considerably surpass all other projects that were coordinated with UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), reported Russia’s permanent representative at the organization Eleonora Mitrofanova.

Earlier president of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin proposed to restore within the Moscow Kremlin two monasteries and one church that until 1930 had been situated on the site of the Building 14 of the Kremlin. According to him, such a plan can be implemented only after approval by the public and by UNESCO, reports the Kommersant newspaper with the reference to RIA-Novosti.

“The proposed project, which, according to the Russian president Putin, is still ‘just an idea, a proposal’, is a large-scale one and it considerably surpasses the actions that were coordinated with UNESCO before. And the organization’s requirements are very, very strict,” said Mrs. Mitrofanova.

At the same time, she insists that we must not disregard “the deep symbolism of the proposed project for our country, which is standing in the new phase of its historical development, its perception of the world”. “Hence, the degree of responsibility for the final decision regarding the beginning of the reconstruction on the territory, I would say, of the central Russian cultural and historical monument is of major state importance,” Eleonora Mitrofanova added.

She earlier informed that Russia was to prepare a detailed experts’ report on the influence that the future construction would have on the universal value of the Kremlin. “Outstanding universal value” is the main criterion which is taken into account at the inclusion of one or another object into the UNESCO World Heritage list. The decision of UNESCO will depend on substantiation of these works, the permanent representative then stated. 
For more information on this topic, please refer to the following articles:

Restore Destroyed Orthodox Monasteries in Kremlin, says Putin

Archaeologists Believe Excavation of Kremlin Monasteries to Yield Great Discoveries

Putin Wants Monasteries, Church Rebuilt in Kremlin

© 22 August, 2014



Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:41 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 22 August 2014 7:57 AM EDT
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Thursday, 21 August 2014
Romanovs: Legends and Destiny
Topic: Peterhof
Every year at the end of the tourist season, the Peterhof State Museum Preserve close down the fountains by hosting a special ceremony. On the eve of this year’s autumn fountain festival, which will take place September 12-14 at the Grand Cascade, the palace museum complex has released a video showcasing last year's event.
This 36-minute film is based on the spectacular multimedia performance held on September 14-15, 2013. The 2013 performance of The Romanovs: Legends and Destiny was timed to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty. The history of the Romanov’s is told through a spectacular display of theatrical, music, and dance performances, accompanied by state of the art laser, light and fireworks displays and more. The celebration was attended by over 40 thousand persons. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 21 August, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:43 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 22 August 2014 8:53 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 20 August 2014
Serving Magnificence: Suppliers to the Russian Imperial Court
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo

This unique exhibition, dedicated to the Russian and foreign official purveyors to the Imperial Court of Russia in the 1800s - early 1900s, was a success of last year and now re-runs from June 10 to September 30, 2014, on the Second Floor of the Zubov Wing at the Catherine Palace 11.00–19.00 daily, except Mondays.

Serving Magnificence: Suppliers to the Russian Imperial Court, an exhibition project comprising the period from the reigns of Tsars Alexander II, Alexander II and Nicholas II, the time in the history of Russia known as the formation of Russian industry, starts on June 19th, 2013.

Our exhibition dedicated to the Russian and foreign official purveyors to the Imperial Court of Russia in the 1800s - early 1900s runs through September 30, 2013, on the Second Floor of the Zubiv Wing at the Catherine Palace from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, except Mondays.

Our exhibition project comprises the period from the reigns of Tsars Alexander II, Alexander II and Nicholas II, the time in the history of Russia known as the formation of Russian industry.

At the turn of the twentieth century, Russia held several events that were remembered by the people and described in books and memoirs. The chain of celebrations comprised the coronation of Nicholas II in 1896, the founding anniversaries of St. Petersburg and its suburban imperial residences in 1903–1910, the centenary of the Russo-Napoleonic War in 1912, and the Romanov 300th Anniversary in 1913. 

All related formal receptions, balls and dinners were catered by a huge number of businesses involved in food and beverages, flowers and exotic plants, tableware and linens, clothing and footwear, musical instruments, coaches and cars, jewelry, perfumes and hairdressing. Their efforts in providing for the Tsar’s family and retinue contributed substantially to the reputation of the Imperial Court of Russia as one of the most opulent in Europe.

Suppliers to the Imperial Court were regarded as the elite of Russian traders and manufacturers. Their names — from the famous luxury makers Fabergé, Bolin, Ovchinnikov and Khlebnikov to bakers and confectioners like Filippov, Abrikosov, Borman and Einem, whose products were popular among all society levels — were familiar to everyone.

One of the first Court Suppliers, marking his status with the Russian coat of arms on his products and signboards from 1818, was Abraham Friedrich Krohn, a famed brewer. The state heraldry placement rules, established by 1856, gave the right to approved manufacturers, artists, craftsmen and Imperial Court Suppliers to put the coat of arms on their signboards. Suppliers to Grand-Ducal Courts had to apply for the Emperor’s permission to use the coat of arms together with customer monograms.

The official title of Imperial Court Supplier was an honour available to applicants after 10 years of a steady supply of (preferably their own) products, with reasonable prices and no complaints. The non-descendible title was limited to supply period and could be awarded to qualifiers only twice a year, on Christmas and Easter.

Since 1901, the mark of Court Supplier was the Russian minor coat of arms, with a ribbon below showing the supplier’s status (Imperial or Grand-Ducal) and conferment year. After Russia entered the First World War, the assignment rules changed for the last time in 1914–1915 when the subjects of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Turkey were denied eligibility.

The majority of suppliers to the Imperial Court were not luxury makers but those providing food, beverages, clothes, footwear, accessories, cosmetics and medicines. Icon-painters and suppliers of ecclesiastical objects were small in number but very significant, especially under the last Romanovs. Along with technical progress in the early 1900s, there appeared suppliers of motor vehicles and other equipment (elevators, electrics, heating and water systems, etc.), some were later renamed and are continuing to the present.

Today, over a hundred years after the flourishing of their makers, the products supplied to the Imperial and Grand-Ducal Courts are seen in a different light and even can be more informative than many other historical sources on Tsarist Russia. 

A view of the exhibition in the Zubov Wing of the Catherine Palace. Photo © Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve 
© Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve. 20 August, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:50 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 22 August 2014 6:29 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 19 August 2014
Restore Destroyed Orthodox Monasteries in Kremlin, says Putin
Topic: Kremlin

The Presidium (Building 14) was built on the site of the Chudov Monastery, and the Ascension Convent during the Soviet years.
It is currently draped with a large linen poster depicting the Soviet structure hidden behind it. Photo ©
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the August 18th, 2014 edition of the Russia Beyond the Headlines. The author Dmitriy Romendik, own the copyright of the work presented below.

President Vladimir Putin, in a conversation with Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, has suggested demolishing a Kremlin administrative building and restoring two Orthodox monasteries. Would this demolition damage the Kremlin’s architectural synthesis and could the monasteries that were destroyed in 1930 be adequately recreated?

Russian President Vladimir Putin has suggested pulling down a Kremlin administrative building due for renovation and restoring two ancient Orthodox monasteries that previously occupied the site. Putin made the comments in a recent conversation with Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin about the fate of the Kremlin Presidium, also known as Building 14, located between the Spasskaya Gate and the Senate Palace.
Demolition order for recent history?
Building 14 is a relatively recent addition to the Kremlin ensemble. It was built by the architect Ivan Rerberg in 1934 on the site of two monasteries – the Chudov and the Ascension – that were demolished in 1929 and 1930. Many churches were blown up at that time all over Russia as the government sought to do away with Orthodox houses of worship and imagery, which were incompatible with the communist ideology of the new state. Originally, major repairs were planned for the building. However, the president is now convinced that demolition will be more expedient than renovation. The administrative building has a rather short, but rich, history. In the 1930s it housed a Military College; however, it soon moved to a more spacious location and the Secretariat of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet was located there in the 1930s.

In 1958, part of the building was even rebuilt as part of the Kremlin Theater, but the building was not equipped for large events from the very beginning; moreover it was located in the Kremlin’s administrative zone, which made receiving large numbers of spectators more difficult. So in 1961 the idea was rejected. At the end of the Soviet period in 1991, then-president Mikhail Gorbachev allocated part of the building to Boris Yeltsin, who shortly thereafter was elected president of the Russian Federation (then within the framework of the Soviet Union). After the collapse of the USSR, Building 14 returned to the spotlight – Russian presidents’ press conferences were held there periodically through 2008.
Restoration or something new?
In itself, the demolition of the building does not arouse any particular objections (it is not an architectural monument). However, the overall appearance of the Kremlin – which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List – may suffer. “For now, only the decision to suspend the renovation has been made. But for a demolition an agreement will have made with UNESCO,” Spokesman for the Office of Presidential Affairs Viktor Khrekov told RBTH.

Can the exact look of the ancient monasteries be recreated? Rustam Rakhmatullin, coordinator at architectural watchdog Arhnadzor, believes there is not enough information available (the architectural plans have not been preserved) and a modern copy of a historical building will be the result, i.e. it will be an inaccurate and historically unverified copy. The renowned architect Mikhail Leikin agrees with his colleagues, but provided an example of a successfully restored church – the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan on Red Square – in a conversation with an RBTH reporter. The church in question was demolished in 1936 and rebuilt in 1990-1993. The Chudov and Ascension monasteries were among Russia’s most ancient; they were founded in 1365 and 1386. However, they were destroyed and rebuilt many times, so they lost their original appearance. A number of architects have supported the idea of restoring the monasteries based on the many photographs which have been preserved. “This is absolutely realistic and there is nothing difficult about it – even if there won’t be a perfect resemblance,” said Vice President of the Union of Architects of Moscow, Alexei Bavykin. Viktor Khrekov provided assurances that even if UNESCO approves the demolition of the administrative building, the construction of monasteries will not begin immediately: "If an agreement is reached with UNESCO, we will initiate a broad-based discussion with the expert representatives from the Union of Architects, organizations for the protection of monuments, and museum staff," he said.
The Kremlin as public domain
No one knows yet how to react to the president’s words. The demolition of the building will either happen or it won’t (it depends on UNESCO), and the monasteries will either be restored or not (this question is still in the very early stages of discussion).

There is also the alternative option of creating an architectural park in the location of the demolished building (if it is indeed demolished), by cleaning up the remains of the ancient foundations of the two monasteries. Meanwhile, a section of the Kremlin that was previously accessible to the general public will now be removed from the list of sensitive sites. In late July the Kremlin took the decision to open the Spasskaya Tower gate to tourists; previously only presidential corteges and the Kremlin’s New Year tree were allowed through it. Kremlin Commandant Sergei Khlebnikov recently said that the section between the Borovitskaya and Tainitskaya towers will become open to visitors. The Kremlin “is releasing” a piece of territory and changing its status from that of sensitive location to tourist site.
For more information on this topic, please refer to the following article:

Archaeologists Believe Excavation of Kremlin Monasteries to Yield Great Discoveries

Putin Wants Monasteries, Church Rebuilt in Kremlin 

© Dmitriy Romendik / RBTH. 19 August, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:30 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 19 August 2014 1:55 PM EDT
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Moscow's Ostankino Estate Set for Restoration
Topic: Ostankino

Ostankino, the 18th century estate of the Sheremetev family
Moscow City Hall has put out a tender for the restoration of 18th-century Ostankino Estate, a grand mansion in the north of the capital, Moscow's competition policy department said Monday in an online statement.

Authorities will accept bids of up to 68.4 million rubles ($1.8 million) to do restoration work that will involve removing mould from paintings, restoring pillars and stoves, and repairing the stucco decoration in the estate's theatre.  

Applications will be accepted until Sept. 9, 2014, with the winner to be announced a week later.

The restoration should take 15 months to complete, the statement said.

The estate, which was built in northeast Moscow between 1790 and 1799, served as an out-of-town residence for the Sheremetev family, one of Russia's most influential noble families at the time. 
© Moscow Times. 19 August, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:22 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 19 August 2014 1:27 PM EDT
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Topic: Royal Russia


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:31 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 19 August 2014 10:16 AM EDT
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Monday, 18 August 2014
Exhibition: 'Orthodox Russia. The Romanovs. My Story' Opens at Livadia Palace
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 3 minutes, 31 seconds
Topic: Exhibitions
Orthodox Russia. The Romanovs. My Story, the exhibition marking the 400th anniversary of the Russian dynasty monarchs, opened at the Livadia Palace on August 15th. 

The exhibit has attracted large crowds who have come to the former summer residence of Nicholas II, to learn about the Romanov dynasty that ruled Russia for more than 300 years. The crowds have been so large that organizers are only allowing groups of 20 people in every 5 minutes to avoid overcrowding in the palace. 

The exhibit is spread throughout the palace. It features 10 full interactive game programs, 7 large-scale video installations and 350 interactive displays and video panels. Individual audio guides are also available. Vintage films offer rare footage of Nicholas II and his family during their visits to the Crimea and their stay at Livadia. Visitors can learn about the history and legacy of all 17 Romanov sovereigns from Tsar Mikhail Feodorovich to Emperor Nicholas II.

For more than half a century, Livadia was a favourite summer residence of three Russian sovereigns: Alexander II, Alexander III and Nicholas II. In 1909, the design and construction of a new palace was entrusted to the Yalta City architect Nikolai Krasnov. Under his leadership, a magnificent palace of white marble in the Italian Renaissance style was constructed in 17 months. Other construction on the estate included a kitchen, technical and farm buildings, roads, as well as the expansion of vineyards and orchards. The last time the family of Nicholas II visited Livadia was in the spring of 1914. After his abdication in 1917, the tsar had asked the interim government to allow him to settle permanently in Livadia. This request was denied.

The exhibition which is currently touring Russia has already been held in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Tyumen, attracting more than 500,000 visitors. Admission is free! 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 18 August, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:26 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 18 August 2014 5:43 AM EDT
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Sunday, 17 August 2014
Beautiful Orthodox Churches of Russia No. 25
Topic: Beautiful Orthodox Churches

The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral at the Novo-Tikhvin Convent in Ekaterinburg
The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is located at the Novo-Tikhvin Convent in Ekaterinburg. This beautiful cathedral has an unusual and unique story.
In 1809, Emperor Alexander I signed a decree on the establishment of the Novo-Tikhvin Convent. It was decided to construct the main church in honour of the Holy Prince Alexander Nevsky - the patron saint of the emperor. Construction began in 1814, but after 20 years, the two-storey building had to be disassembled due to cracks in the walls. Moreover, the number of sisters grew rapidly at Novo-Tikhvin Convent during that time, therefore a larger church was needed.

The new Cathedral was laid in 1838. It was designed by the amous Ural architect, Mikhail Pavlovich Malakhov (1781-1842) together with St. Petersburg architects Visconti and Charlemagne.

Due to a lack of funds for the construction of the church, the nuns visited towns and villages of the region with the Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God asking for donations. Fortunately, many Ural merchants and factory owners helped.

The cathedral was consecrated in 1854. Designed in the style of late classicism, it was one of the largest and most beautiful churches in pre-revolutionary Russia. It was designed to hold four thousand parishioners, however, due to a lack of heating during the cold winters, services were only held from May to October. By 1918, the convent had more than a thousand sisters.

When in 1918, Tsar Nicholas II with all of his family were kept under arrest in the Ipatiev House, the nuns of the Novo-Tikhvin Convent prayed for them, asking God to relieve their sufferings, to strengthen them, and to give them the strength to bear everything with Christian humility.

The sisters' help came not only through prayer but also through deeds: disregarding their own safety, they supported the Tsar and his family by passing over various foods to them through the guards on a daily basis. On June 18th of 1918, a month before their murders, the Empress Alexandra Fedorovna made the following entry in her diary: "The kind nuns are now sending milk and eggs for Aleksey and for us, as well as cream."

On July 16th, 1918,while making their daily visit bearing food for the August family, the nuns were told not to come any more. That night, the Tsar and his entire family perished as martyrs at the hands of the Bolsheviks.

The Novo-Tikhvin Convent was closed by the local Soviet in 1921, but the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral managed to remain open until 1930. It was the last Russian Orthodox church in the district to close, and during the 1920s welcomed more than 5,000 faithful on a daily basis. During the Second World War years the church was used as an ammunition depot. After the war, the church housed the department of nature, a planetarium and the Regional Museum complete with a full skeleton of a mammoth, mounted on a pedestal directly under the central dome of the church.

In 1991, a movement began to return the building to the Russian Orthodox Church, which included a 33-day hunger strike by local Orthodox Christians. But the restoration of the cathedral did not begin until 2006 due to a lack of funds. The builders, restorers, and painters faced a daunting task as the interiors of the church had been seriously altered during the Soviet era.

The façade of the cathedral remained unchanged, however, the interiors suffered terribly. Before the Revolution, the church was known for its unique frescoes, but during the years when the building was used as a warehouse, the unique frescoes disappeared, wiped out by their Soviet caretaker. Restorers were unable to recover them, and forced to re-paint the walls. Floors installed during the Soviet period had to be removed using a special crane. 

Some 60 painters and about 100 people helped to paint the new frescoes in a variety of patterns. These included novices of the Novo-Tikhvin Convent, and experts from Moscow, the Trinity-Sergius Lavra, St. Petersburg, and Minsk.

The walls of the church were revived with marble and onyx, the floor is made of garnet. All stonework was brought from Italy because the Ural minerals lack the quality and colour needed. The iconostasis required white and pink marble to recreate a floral design. The doors of the cathedral are decorated with fine patterns of carved wood.

Last year, after a restoration which took more than seven years, the oldest church in the Urals reopened. The consecration of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral at the Novo-Tikhvin Convent in Ekaterinburg took place on May 19th, 2013 by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia Kirill. More than five thousand people came to the service. 

Situated in the southern outskirts of Ekaterinburg, the Novo-Tikvinsky Convent welcomes pilgrims and visitors. Each year on the night of July 16/17 a liturgy is held in memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs, whom the nuns of the convent had shown such kindness in their final days. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 17 August, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:21 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 17 August 2014 7:09 AM EDT
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Saturday, 16 August 2014
A Russian Moment No 43 - The Nicholas Palace, St. Petersburg
Topic: A Russian Moment

The monumental and intricately decorated main staircase of the Nicholas Palace in St. Petersburg
In 1862 the Russian architect Andrei Stakenschneider completed a grandiose palace in the Italianate style for Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholayevich, the third son of Emperor Nicholas I. After the Grand Duke's death in 1891, the palace was turned into the Xenia Institute for Noble Girls, a finishing school named after Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna, the eldest daughter of Emperor Alexander III. 

After the October Revolution, the Bolshevik government transferred the building to the trade unions, who made it their local headquarters and renamed it the Palace of Labour. It still fulfills this role today, although some parts of the palace have been rented out to private enterprises, including nightly concerts and folk shows for tourists. 

Several historic interiors of the palace have survived, including the sumptuous entrance hall complete with it’s monumental and intricately decorated main staircase lined with columns, several rococo drawing rooms, and a Moorish boudoir. The palace was distinguished by the location of the Church of Our Lady of Sorrow (recently restored), the only family church in all the residences of the grand dukes with the entrance on the main staircase. 

The former palace is not open to the public as a museum, however, attending one of the nightly performances offers visitors a glimpse inside one of the last palaces built for the Russian Imperial family in St. Petersburg. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 16 August, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:09 AM EDT
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Friday, 15 August 2014
Servants of the Imperial Court
Topic: Exhibitions

Servants of the Imperial Court: Livery Costume of the Late 19th – Early-20th Centuries in the Hermitage Collection
runs until September 21st at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. Photo © State Hermitage Museum
The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg is currently hosting one of the most magnificent Romanov-themed exhibits to date. Servants of the Imperial Court showcases the Livery costume of the late 19th – Early-20th centuries from the Hermitage Collection until September 21st, 2014. The exhibition is spread throughout two halls and rooms of the former Winter Palace: Arab Hall, Rotunda. 

I had the opportunity to tour the exhibition during my recent visit to St. Petersburg in early June. If you plan on being in Russia during the next month I strongly recommend including this unique exhibit to your itinerary. For those of you who cannot be there in person, I have prepared the following post which includes a synopsis of the exhibit, a video (in Russian) and 12 colour photographs:

Servants of the Imperial Court: Livery Costume of the Late-19th – Early-20th Centuries in the State Hermitage Collection 

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 15 August, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:07 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 15 August 2014 8:18 AM EDT
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