Memorial Chapel to Nicholas II Opens in Omsk Region Topic: Nicholas II
A memorial chapel dedicated to Tsar Nicholas II has opened in the village of Lyuba which is situated in the Omsk region of Siberia.
The chapel opened on July 14th, a year after a memorial plaque in honour of Nicholas II had been erected on the spot.
The former Russian emperor, along with his wife Alexandra, and their daughter Maria stopped at the Lyubinskaya Station after being transferred from Tobolsk to the Ekaterinburg in 1918.
In the summer of 1917 the Provisional Government in Petrograd sent the Imperial family to Tobolsk. In October, the Provisional Government fell after a successful coup by Lenin.
In April of 1918 Yakov Sverdlov ordered that Nicholas be sent to Moscow to stand trial. However, their train was stopped at the Lyubinskaya Station on April 28th. Eye witnesses recall seeing the last emperor and empress walking on the platform of the station while awaiting their fate. In an unsuccessful attempt to negotiate with the Bolsheviks on the transporting of the Imperial family members to Moscow, Vasily Yakovlev, the special plenipotentiary commissar of the Central Executive Committee took them instead to Ekaterinburg.
After that, any possibility of escape or rescue was gone. To this day, some historians believe that regardless of Yakovlev’s motives, that the fate of the Emperor and his family might have been different had the family been moved to Omsk. For a brief period during the Russian Civil War (1918-1920), Omsk served as the capital of the anti-Bolshevik Russian State and held the Imperial gold reserves.
"Russia without samovars is not Russia!" Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 2 minutes, 46 seconds Topic: Tsaritsino
Pyotr Stolypin, one of the last major statesmen of Imperial Russia and Prime Minister under Tsar Nicholas II, used to say “Russia without samovars is not Russia!” Alexei Lobanov, a collector of samovars from St. Petersburg, likes to repeat this statement. His collection of savovars, metal containers, which were traditionally used in Russia to heat and boil water, are on display in the Tsaritsino museum in Moscow from July 12 to September 9.
Although he is a professional lawyer, Alexei continues to supplement the family collection of samovars which was started by his great-grandfather and his father. Their family collection counts more than 200 exhibits. In an interview with the Voice of Russia Lobanov confessed that he is now so deep into the subject that he knows what is what as good as a professional ethnographer.
"Our collection will shed more light on the development of samovar as a symbol of Russian culture," Lobanov says. "Samovar appeared in Russia at the beginning of the 18th century, and our collection includes a spate of rare hand-made samovars that were in use in Russia between the 18th century and the beginning of the 20th century.Subsequent years saw the beginning of mass production of samovars which were of little interest to me," Lobanov adds.
A metal container traditionally used to heat and boil water, a samovar turned into an important attribute of a Russian household.
In previous years, Lobanov’s samovars were on display in Paris, Prague and the Norwegian town of Bodo, attracting scores of visitors. The hope is that the Moscow exhibition will not be an exception.
Catherine the Great Exhibition Opens in Edinburgh Topic: Exhibitions
The exhibition Catherine the Great: An Enightened Empress opened today at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. More than three hundred works of art associated with the image and life of one of the most famous women in the history of Russia on loan fromthe Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg are on display until 21st of October, 2012.
Writers continue to write books about her, the theatre and cinema constantly return to the image of this great woman. Who could have thought that a modest German princess called Sophia Frederica Augusta of Anhalt-Zerbst, who was brought to Russia at the age of 16 to marry the heir to the Russian throne, would become Empress Catherine the Great. Catherine’s first portrait in Russia, painted by an unknown artist, is just a picture of an ordinary nice young girl. Eighteen years later, in the coronation portrait by Danish artist Vigilius Eriksen she looks a sovereign.
Contemporary western cinema, in the opinion of historian Olga Yeliseyeva, distorts the image of Catherine the Great emphasizing her German origin.
“Catherine spoke a very good Russian without an accent. We have a lot of documents at our disposal that Catherine wrote in Russian. It is true that she made small mistakes in spelling and punctuation but this is also true of many Russian women. In any case, what did it mean to be Russian in the Russian Empire? People could be of the German origin but at the same time feel Russian, accept the Russian ways and live like Russians.
Catherine adopted a lot of Russian features, such as generosity, taste for luxury and living in style. Catherine’s gifts to her favourites and the luxury of her court became legendary. The exhibition in Edinburgh shows jewellery, dresses and accessories made by the best craftsmen of the time. Even snuff-boxes and perfume bottles are studded with precious stones. Catherine was interested in Chinese art and loved the elegant gold hair clasps that were given to her by the Chinese Emperor. She commissioned first-rate silver and porcelain sets for the dining-rooms of her palaces and she bought large collections of European art to arrange a picture gallery in the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. The Imperial Museum was to show the world that Russia had the right to be called a European country and the Russian Empress was well-educated. She bought paintings by Giordano, Rembrandt, Van Dyke and Velasquez. The National Museum of Scotland displays Rubens’ Apotheosis of James I from the Walpole collection bought by Catherine in 1779. This collection belonged to British Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole. It was famous all over Europe and was sought after by many art collectors. However, Sir Walpole’s grandson chose to sell the paintings to Russia. At that time Empress Catherine was already known to be an experienced art collector and an educated woman who corresponded with famous European philosophers and writers and wrote novels and plays herself.
At the presentation of the exhibition in St. Petersburg British Consul Gareth Word said that this year Russia and the UK were marking important dates in the history of their monarchies: Empress Catherine the Great ascended the throne 250 years ago and Queen Elizabeth II is celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of her reign. The British Consul believes that for any country and nation the figure of a monarch symbolizes unity and permanent values even in the contemporary fast-changing world.
The exhibition Catherine the Great: An Enlightened Empress will undoubtedly be a great success, the staff of the National Museum of Scotland believe. A lot of applications to attend it have already been registered. The residents of the Scottish capital are eager to know the life story of that great woman ‘at first hand’, at the exhibition of works of art from the world-famous Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg which was actually founded by Catherine the Great.
St. Petersburg's Kazan Cathedral to be Restored Topic: Russian Church
The Russia Ministry of Culture has ordered a project for the restoration of the Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg.
Now they are looking for a project documentation development contractor. The initial price of the state contract is nearly 2 million rubles. The performer will have to measure fragments of the western facade of the cathedral, traces of fastenings of letters on grapholites of the western portico and to carry out engineering survey with photofixing. The winner of the competition will prepare working documentation on restoration of fragments of the western facade with the reconstruction of frame board inscriptions, present scientific and methodical recommendations about restoration of the facade stone and iron-cast bases of columns of pilasters.
The project preparation is planned to be finished on November 15, 2012. Applications are admitted till August 7. Results of the competition will become known on August 21.
The Kazan Cathedral located on the Nevsky Prospekt in St. Petersburg was constructed under the decree of Emperor Paul I. The architect of the monument is Andrey Voronikhin. The cathedral appeared in all its glory in 1811.
Peter the Great at the Hermitage Amsterdam Topic: Exhibitions
Next year, the Hermitage Amsterdam will host a new exhibition dedicated to Peter the Great.
The central theme for the year 2013 will be the special relationship between Russia, the Netherlands and Amsterdam. The two countries have been major trading partners since the Golden Age, and Amsterdam’s canal ring inspired Peter the Great’s to found the city of St Petersburg. In the centuries that followed, this relationship grew stronger. In 1813, when Napoleon was defeated, the Russian Cossacks advanced as far as the gates of Amsterdam, and a member of the House of Orange-Nassau married the daughter of a tsar. The year 2009 saw a crowning moment in relations between the Netherlands and Russia: the opening of the Hermitage Amsterdam, the only European satellite of the famous St Petersburg museum. The Hermitage Amsterdam will kick off the anniversary year of 2013 with a major exhibition about Peter the Great, the tsar who brought Russia into the modern age.
The exhibition will run from 26 February 2013 - 13 September 2013.
Tsar Days in Ekaterinburg Begins Topic: Ekaterinburg
The religious festival Tsar Days (also referred to as Royal Days) opened today in Ekaterinburg and the surrounding Sverdlovsk Region. The event is now in its 11th year is dedicated to the memory of the Tsar-Marytyrs.
The aim of the event is to inform people about the truth of the history of the family of the last Russian tsar, who were all murdered by the Bolsheviks on July 17th, 1918.
Each year thousands of pilgrims come to Ekaterinburg to venerate the saints, visit the places associated with the final days of Tsar Nicholas II and his family.
The culmination of the festival will be the traditional nighttime procession on the eve of July 16/17 which begins at the Church on the Blood (built on the site of the former Ipatiev House). Following a memorial liturgy the pilgrims form a procession and walk the 21-km route from the cathedral to Ganina Yama.
Ganima Yama or Ganya's Pit was a 9-foot deep pit at the Four Brothers Mine located near the village of Koptyaki, situated about 15 km north of Ekaterinburg. In the early morning hours of July 17th the bodies of the tsar and his family were secretly transported to Ganina Yama and thrown into the pit.
Last year the event welcomed more than 50,000 people from across Russia, as well as other countries. Organizers are expecting an even larger numbers this year.
The Tsar Days at Ekaterinburg runs from July 12-20.
Russian Kremlins Fail UNESCO Exam Topic: Architecture
The Kremlin, Pskov
This was the first time that UNESCO held its annual session in Russia. Russian people were most of all interested in the main issue on the agenda, the extension of the UNESCO World Heritage List. Russia had submitted an unusual serial nomination of ‘Russian Kremlins’ for consideration. It consisted of three fortresses dating back to the 13th -17th centuries. They were the Kremlins of old Russian cities, such as Pskov in the north-west of the country, Uglich in Central Russia and Astrakhan in the south, in the Volga delta. To many people’s disappointment, this nomination was declined.
The Kremlins of Pskov, Uglich and Astrakhan have been submitted by Russia for UNESCO’s consideration more than once. They have been on the so-called preliminary list for a long time, Irina Zayeeka from Russia’s Union of Architects who participated in the session says.
“According to the rules, before being put on the UNESCO list, monuments go through numerous expert examinations and then get on a preliminary list. Over 30 Russian monuments are on this list but all of them are stuck there without being discussed. The last Russian monument to be put on the preliminary list was the historical centre of Yaroslavl in 2005. Our main problem is that there is no executive body which would deal with Russian monuments of the World Cultural Heritage. This circumstance is an obstacle for controlling the preliminary list, preparing nominations and a lot of other events.”
Incidentally, at present the Russian cultural monuments that are on the preliminary list are very different in value. Among them are the 10th century city of Bolgar in Tatarstan and the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour which was reconstructed from scratch in 1997 on the site of the demolished original cathedral. Generally speaking, these preliminary lists are a big headache and a reason for many countries to complain of UNESCO. For example, Italy, which heads the World Heritage List due to the number of its historical monuments, has submitted an additional list of 40 monuments most of which have been stuck for already six years. Spain follows Italy in respect of the number of its historical monuments, a lot of which are also on the ‘list of applicants’. The same is true of India, Japan and many other countries.
Naturally, all countries that have signed the UNESCO ‘protection convention’ do their best to make their cultural monuments well-known in the world. When a monument has been put on the UNESCO list, its status is elevated and it receives international support in case of any danger. If countries are so eager for their monuments to be put on the UNESCO list they should observe simple but very strict rules. They should ban new construction on the grounds of the monuments and in close proximity to them. They should also guard them well, otherwise the monuments will be deprived of their honourable status, which happened, for example, to Dresden in Germany after a bridge across the Elbe was built in the city’s historical area. Now English Liverpool is facing such a sanction because city construction is ‘infringing the rights’ of the historical docks. Alexey Butorin, a Russian participant in the UNESCO session, says that Russia has not violated the rules so far, so we hope to go up on the UNESCO list.
Langinkoski Imperial Fishing Lodge Topic: Alexander III
When Alexander III, the future Emperor of Russia, visited the Langinkoski salmon fishing site for the first time, he was immediately enchanted by the place, and made a pledge to return. He visited Langinkoski as an Emperor for the first time in the summer of 1887, accompanied by his Danish-born wife Marie. In conjunction with this visit, the Emperor and Empress expressed a wish to have a fishing lodge beside the rapids. The Finns soon brought his Majesty’s desire to fruition, and the festive inauguration of the Imperial fishing lodge took place in the summer of 1889.
Emperor Alexander III and Empress Marie Feodorovna
The lodge was designed and built by Finns. The objects in the lodge are original, and almost all of them were made by Finnish craftsmen. The fishing lodge has been restored to the appearance it had when it was used by the Imperial family. The fishing lodge of Alexander III and Empress Marie at the Langinkoski nature reserve is the only building outside Russia which was once owned by the Emperor of Russia and which has been preserved to the present day. Adjacent to the fishing lodge are also a cottage which the Emperor had built for his fishermen, and a small chapel, built by the monks of the Valamo monastery, which existed before the fishing lodge.
The Imperial family visited the fishing lodge during many summers. There, they were allowed to spend relaxed holidays away from the shackles of the stringent court etiquette. At Langinkoski, the Emperor chopped wood and the Empress would cook. Being an avid fisherman, Alexander liked to follow salmon fishing and go fishing himself. He also took his smallest children Mikhail and Olga to pick berries and mushrooms. The entire Langinkoski area reflects history, and the lodge still accommodates an Imperial atmosphere.
During my recent visit to Ekaterinburg I was delighted to find such a rich collection of books, postcards and other collectibles on the Romanovs. Any Romanovphile will be overwhelmed with the selections found in the city's shops, as well as at the Church on the Blood and Ganina Yama.
Of particular interest were beautiful colour portraits of the Russian Imperial family, including Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and the Tsarevich Alexei. These portraits are all hand-painted by a local artist and sold in the gift shop at the Church on the Blood.
I was able to add another 40 photocards and 45 postcards of the Russian Imperial family to my own personal collection. All of them are of exceptional quality, and many I have not seen published in any pictorial to date.