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It wasn't long after the construction of the first wooden palace at Livadia, built during the reign of Emperor Alexander II, for his wife, the Empress Maria Alexandrovna, that other members of the Imperial family constructed palaces and vineyards along the Crimean coast of the Black Sea. In turn, they were followed by members of Russia’s aristocracy and nobility who built luxurious villas, enjoying the Mediterranean-like climate that the region had to offer.
In the 1860s, architect Ippolito Monighetti built a large palace, a small palace, and a church at Livadia. The larger residence was preferred by Alexander II and his family, while his successor Alexander III not only preferred the smaller palace, he also died there in 1894.
In 1909, the last tsar, Nicholas II ordered the demolition of the two wooden palaces. He engaged the architect Nikolay Krasnov to construct a new palace in their place. It was built of white Crimean granite in the Neo-Renaissance style. Construction lasted seventeen months, and was inaugurated on September 11th, 1911. It was to become a favourite residence for the last tsar and his family. Far from the the Russian capital, the tsar found time to relax here with his family. After his abdication in 1917, Nicholas II had hopes that he and his family would be sent to Livadia, where they would live out their days as a normal family. It was not to be.
This montage of historic photographs presents Tsar Nicholas II and his family during their successive visits to Livadia. Not only do they present a window to the past, they afford some rare images of the interiors of the old wooden palaces while they were still Imperial residences. A wonderful historical record indeed!
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 03 August, 2013