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400th Anniversary
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Saturday, 16 July 2011
New Holland Island Opens for the First Time in 300 years
Topic: St. Petersburg

View of New Holland Island in St. Petersburg. Development of the island will cost 12 billion rubles over the next 7 years. Note the 2 artists views of what the island will look like once the project is complete.

New Holland Island in St. Petersburg has opened to visitors for the first time in 300 years.

Visitors are welcome to a park for the rest of this summer offering exhibition space for modern-day painters, a playground, a café and the city’s first public vegetable garden.

Two key goals for the developers of the New Holland Island project are to restore and renovate the historic architectural ensemble on the island, as well as to create a unique mixed-use facility that will become a central part of the lives of city residents. 

At estimated 12 billion rubles will be spent over the next 7 years that will include a collection of cultural spaces, theaters, exhibition halls, educational centers, and science labs, specializing in the advancement of information technologies. Alongside them would be a vital array of commercial infrastructure, from office space to residences, hotels and more.

A unique complex of architectural monuments was built on the island back in 1719, while in 1721, Peter the Great opened Russia’s first naval base there.

The island dates back to the birth of St. Petersburg itself and has been the domain of the military ever since it began to be developed.  As a result, the island has been off limits to the general public for nearly 300 years.

© The Voice of Russia. 16 July, 2011

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:24 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 16 July 2011 8:34 AM EDT
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Thursday, 14 July 2011
Marx Monument in Penza Dismantled for Cathedral
Now Playing: Russian Orthodox Church


A monument to Karl Marx located in the Sovietskaya Square in central Penza has been dismantled to make way for a Russian Orthodox Cathedral that will be reconstructed after it was destroyed by the Soviets. 

A section of the Spassky Cathedral will occupy this part of the square, its construction is already underway.

The decision to move the Marx monument was made by the city administration, with plans to move the monument eventually to Karl Marx Street.

The monument to the father of Communism was originally erected in November 1960. The two-meter bronze bust was mounted on a six-meter granite stand.

The Spassky Cathedral before the Revolution 

The Spassky Cathedral was originally built between 1800-1824, and destroyed by the Soviets in 1934. Numerous members of the Russian Imperial family visited the cathedral, including Grand Dukes Mikhail Pavlovich, Konstantin Konstantinovich, Mikhail Alexandrovich, Alexander Nikolayevich (the future Emperor Alexander II), as well as Emperors Alexander I, Nicholas I and Nicholas II.

Artists concept of the Spassky Cathedral already under construction 

© Royal Russia. 14 July, 2011


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 3:45 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 14 July 2011 4:09 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 13 July 2011
Video Tour of Ganina Yama
Now Playing: Language: NA. Duration: 4 minutes, 19 seconds.
Topic: Ganima Yama

Ganina Yama was a deep pit in the Four Brothers Mine near the village of Koptyaki, situated 15 km north of Ekaterinburg. In the early morning hours of 17 July, 1918, the bodies of Tsar Nicholas II, his wife, five children and four faithful retainers (all of whom had been murdered at the Ipatiev House earlier) were secretly transported to Ganina Yama and thrown into the pit.

The Russian Orthodox Church, relying on the pro-monarchist White Army's report in preference to any Bolshevik or government-supplied information, and doubting the DNA identification, declared Ganina Yama as Holy Ground.

The Imperial Family and their retinue had been canonized in 1981 by the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, but it was not until 2000, and after much debate, that they were canonized as passion bearers by the Russian Orthodox Church inside Russia. The grounds at Ganina Yama were therefore dedicated to honour the family's humility during capture and their status as political martyrs.

With financial assistance from the Ural Mining and Metallurgical Company, the Church constructed the Monastery of the Holy Imperial Passion Bearers at the site in 2001. The monastery was blessed by His Holiness Alexey II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia (1929-2008). A tall cross marks the edge of the mine shaft where the bodies of the Imperial family were desposed of.

Seven chapels were later constructed at the site, one for each member of the Imperial Family. Today, the monastery welcomes Orthodox faithful and monarchists from across Russia and around the world.

© Royal Russia. 13 July, 2011

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 2:32 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 14 July 2011 8:28 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 12 July 2011
Grand Duchess Appeals to the Prosecutor General


The Head of the Russian Imperial House Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, has sent a wire to the Russian Prosecutor General Mr. Yuri Chaika, asking his assistance to obtain a copy of the decision to close the investigation of a murder of Emperor Nicholas II and Members of His Family in 1918.

The criminal case was closed by the Investigations Committee (Russian analogue of the American FBI) in January 2009. Grand Duchess Maria disputed that decision in the court. Her claim was partially recognised by the court, but Grand Duchess received only 26 of 774 pages of the decision of the investigator to close the case.

The Grand Duchess now hopes that the Prosecutor General will help Her to receive a complete copy of the document.

©  “Легитимист” - Информационное Агентство. 12 July, 2011

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:38 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 12 July 2011 6:42 AM EDT
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Monday, 11 July 2011
Royal Faberge Coming to Buckingham Palace
Topic: Faberge

 Presentation box with portrait of tsar Nicholas II, 1916. Given to King George V by Queen Mary on his birthday, 1934 |The Royal Collection © 2011, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 

Over 100 masterpieces by the greatest Russian jeweller of all time, Carl Fabergé, will go on public display in a large-scale exhibition at the Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace.

­Entitled Royal Fabergé, the selection tracks down six successive generations of the British Royal Family, from Queen Victoria to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, shaping what is now considered to be “the finest collection of Fabergé in the world – unparalleled in size, range and quality.”

Among the highlights created by Fabergé, the famous goldsmith of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, is a cigarette case which was once given to King Edward VII as a 40th wedding anniversary present by his sister-in-law, the Dowager Tsarina Maria Feodorovna.

Another must-see item with rich history is the so-called “Imperial presentation box”. According to art historians, in the hierarchy of state gifts presented by the Tsar, gem-set presentation boxes with miniature portraits of the Tsar or the imperial couple were  reserved only for monarchs, non-royal heads of state and very selectively, to high-ranking officials at home and abroad.

Lavishly decorated in dark green enamel, with ten brilliant-cut diamonds, the box on display is said to be one of the last imperial presentation boxes ever to have been given on behalf of the Tsar. There is a miniature of Tsar Nicholas II in the center of the lid where he is featured wearing a uniform of the 4th Imperial Family Rifle Guards and the Order of St George, which he received on October 25, 1915. The ledgers in the imperial cabinet archives reveal that the miniature was allocated on May 5, 1917, almost two months after the Tsar’s official abdication.

Despite political instability in Russia, the box managed to reach its intended recipient who was a member of the French Academy.  Queen Mary later acquired it and gave it to King George V on his birthday, on June 3, 1934.

© Russia Today. 11 July, 2011

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 3:24 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 11 July 2011 3:26 PM EDT
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State Hermitage Museum to Have New Web Site
Topic: State Hermitage Museum

Mikhail Piotrovsky, Director of the State Hermitage Museum 

The world famous Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg is to have a new web site in 2014 when the museum will be 250 years old.

The site will be made in partnership with the IBM American company and implemented with sponsors’ money. This was reported to the RIA Novosti news agency by the Director of the Hermitage Mikhail Piotrovsky.

The site of this museum was considered the world’s best for a long time. Now it takes second place but the museum hopes to return its leadership.

Piotrovsky described the digitalization of  the collection which is taking place along several tracks simultaneously. An electronic catalogue is already available for internal use and by 2014 all Internet users will have access to the digital collection.

© The Voice of Russia. 11 July, 2011

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:48 PM EDT
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Celebrations Set for 450 Years of St. Basil's
Topic: Moscow


Russia will celebrate the 450th anniversary of St. Basil’s Cathedral by opening an exhibition dedicated to the so-called “holy fool” who gave his name to the soaring structure of bright-hued onion domes that is a quintessential image of Russia.

The eccentrically devout St. Basil wore no clothes even during the harsh Russian winters and was one of the very few Muscovites who dared to lambast tyrannical Tsar Ivan the Terrible.

Ivan, whose gory purges claimed tens of thousands of lives, feared St. Basil as “a seer of people’s hearts and minds,” according to one chronicle. He personally carried St. Basil’s coffin to a grave right outside the Kremlin.

The cathedral, constructed to commemorate Ivan’s victory over Mongol rulers, was built on the burial site.

Deputy Culture Minister Andrei Busygin said Friday that the exhibition is opening Tuesday as part of anniversary celebrations in the cathedral after a decade-long restoration that cost 390 million rubles ($14 million). The exhibition will display relics and icons of St. Basil and other religious eccentrics, who were known as “holy fools.”

The exhibition will be part of massive celebrations of St. Basil’s anniversary that will also include a service to be held by Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill and a late-night church bell concert.

“This cathedral is a shrine and a symbol of Russia,” Busygin said. “It’s a miracle that it survived at all.”

The building was severely shelled during the 1917 Bolshevik takeover of the Kremlin and was patched up during the subsequent civil war and famine.

“Those gaping wounds were stuffed with whatever was at hand,” said Andrei Batalov, deputy director of the State Kremlin Museums.

Early Communist leaders — who persecuted countless clerics of all faiths and destroyed tens of thousands of religious buildings — wanted St. Basil’s dynamited because it blocked the way for military parades, and only the cathedral’s conversion into a museum saved it.

A century earlier, Napoleon Bonaparte also ordered St. Basil’s blown up during his army’s hasty retreat from Moscow in 1812, but a heavy rain put out the burning fuses.

Originally named the Holy Trinity Cathedral, over the centuries it became known as where St. Basil is buried.

The design of its nine onion-shaped, multicolored domes combines the traditions of Russian wooden architecture with Byzantine and Islamic influences into a unique structure.

Batalov said the restoration focused on recreating the way the building looked by the late 17th century, when the nine domes were united by a wraparound floor.

By that time, St. Basil’s became a symbolic New Jerusalem and the center of Palm Sunday walks, when the Moscow Patriarch approached it sitting on a donkey to recreate Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem.

© The Moscow Times. 11 July, 2011

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:24 AM EDT
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Fabulous Faberge
Now Playing: Language: English. Duration: 3 minutes, 14 seconds
Topic: Faberge

Opening day of Faberge Revealed at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, in Richmond, Virginia, drew a steady stream of visitors on opening day, July 9th, 2011.

© Richmond Times-Dispatch. 11 July, 2011

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:16 AM EDT
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Saturday, 9 July 2011
Imperial Days in Ekaterinburg 9 - 21 July, 2011

Ganina Yama 

The 10th annual Imperial Days opened today in Ekaterinburg. The festival is organized by the International Festival of Orthodox Culture and ends on July 21st.

Tens of thousands of Orthodox faithful from across Russia and other countries will take part in the event that marks the final days of the last Russian Imperial family in Ekaterinburg in 1918.

Participants are invited to religious services, tours of the Church of all Saints (Church on the Blood) on the site of the Ipatiev House, Ganima Yama, Alapayevsk, lectures, exhibitions, concerts, bell-ringing, plays among other events.

The highlight of the Imperial Days is a night-long service held on the anniversary of the murders at the Church of all Saints. At daybreak, a mass procession walks four hours to Ganina Yama for another ceremony.

Ganina Yama was a nine foot-deep pit in the Four Brothers Mine near the village of Koptyaki.  The Russian Orthodox Church, relying on the pro-monarchist White Army's report in preference to any Bolshevik or government-supplied information, and doubting the DNA identification, declared Ganima Yama as Holy Ground.  

© Royal Russia. 9 July, 2011

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 2:54 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 9 July 2011 3:08 PM EDT
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Friday, 8 July 2011
Monument to Alexander II in St. Petersburg
Topic: Alexander II


This monument to Emperor Alexander II was inaugurated on May 31, 2003 in front of the A.V. Suvorov State Military Historical Museum in St. Petersburg. The museum was originally opened in 1900 as the Nicholas Military Academy.

The statue was presented as a gift to the city of St. Petersburg from the Ukraine to mark the 300th anniversary in 2003. It is a replica of the original designed by the sculptor Mark Antokolsky (1843-1902). The original was erected in the lobby of the Kiev Public Library and is now on disply in the courtyard of the Museum of Russian Art in Kiev.

© Royal Russia. 8 July, 2011

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:18 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 9 July 2011 3:09 PM EDT
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