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Tuesday, 2 October 2012
Restoration of St. Sergius Church at Tsarskoye Selo
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo


St. Sergius Church at Tsarskoye Selo as it looks today 

St. Sergius Church at Tsarskoye Selo was officially returned to the Russian Orthodox Church during a ceremony on September 21st.

The ROC announced that a full restoration of the church will take place, to be completed in 2014 which will mark the 700th anniversary of the saint.

St. Sergius Church as it looked in 1904 

The church was originally built in 1889. It was consecrated on December 2nd [O.S. November 19th] 1904 in the presence of Emperor Nicholas II, the Grand Dukes Vladimir and Sergei Alexandrovich, and the Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna.


The interior of the church included an iconostasis carved out of oak and an altar made of marble 

After the Russian Revolution the church was closed by the Bolsheviks, and its dome destroyed. The building was badly damaged during World War II. Repairs to the church were carried out in 1980, although the bell tower was demolished and the interiors destroyed.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 02 October, 2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:40 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 2 October 2012 10:03 AM EDT
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Rasputin Memorial Vandalized
Topic: Rasputin


Unidentified vandals attacked a wooden cross dedicated to Orthodox mystic Grigory Rasputin onthe grounds of the former imperial palace Tsarskoye Selo, outside St. Petersburg.

Security guards on the estate, now an open-air museum, told Interfax that the vandals had taken a saw to the memorial Monday (September 24th) and that the damaged cross had been moved to the museum for safekeeping.

The guards said they were not responsible for looking after the memorial because it was mysteriously erected on the edge of the estate seven years ago without the permission of museum authorities.

Rasputin, who acquired a reputation as a psychic and faith healer in the early 20th century and became a close adviser to the wife of the last tsar, Nicholas II, is a controversial figure, and a definitive account of his murder in 1916 in St. Petersburg’s Yusupov Palace remains elusive.

After his death, the imperial family allowed Rasputin to be buried in a bell tower at Tsarskoye Selo, but his remains were later removed, burned and scattered elsewhere after the 1917 Revolution.

Monday’s attack on the memorial follows two cross-felling episodes in recent weeks. Earlier this month, vandals chopped down one Orthodox cross in the Altai republic and nine in the Leningrad region.

President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday said attacks on religious traditions showed that the Russians were losing spirituality.

“There are losses of Christian clergymen and of other confessions. Very recently there was yet another crime committed against a spiritual leader in Dagestan. What does this mean? It means, unfortunately, that there is a substantial loss of our national spiritual code. It’s worrying,” Putin told the presidential cultural council, Interfax reported.

© The Moscow Times. 02 October, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:16 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 2 October 2012 9:32 AM EDT
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Monday, 1 October 2012
Russia Hosts Fourth World Cossack Congress
Topic: Cossacks


Photo: The Novocherkassk Army Assumption Cathedral hosted a memorial service on the event's opening day 

Novocherkassk, the capital of Don Cossacks in southern Russia, is hosting the Fourth World Cossack Congress this week, which convenes about 500 participants from the CIS and from 40 countries outside the CIS, Nezavisimaya Gazeta reports.

Foreign participants will drive into the city via two Triumphal Arches built to commemorate Russia’s victory over Napoleon in 1812, to which Don Cossacks, commanded by legendary chieftain Matvei Platov, contributed a great deal.

The Novocherkassk Army Assumption Cathedral will feature a memorial service on the event’s opening day, and memorial plaques will be installed at the cathedral’s burial vault. A Cossack parade will take place at Chieftain Platov Square followed by other commemorative events.

At the same time, representatives of Don Cossack Host – a public association uniting over 100,000 local Cossacks – will not attend the congress. Historically, the world congresses are only for “official Cossacks,” while the public association holds its own conventions and parades.

Don Cossack Host Chieftain Nikolai Kozitsyn complains that the authorities have always used the Cossacks for their own purposes, dividing them arbitrarily into “the red” and “the white,” or into “unofficial” and “official” Cossacks.

The World Cossack Congress will run until October 1, featuring gala performances, fairs and exhibitions, and an equestrian festival.

© Russkiy Mir. 01 October, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:12 PM EDT
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Nicholas Romanovich Turns 90
Topic: Nicholas Romanovich


On September 26 Nicholas Romanovich Romanov, the eldest living representative of the House of Romanov and a direct descendant of Emperor Nicholas I, celebrated his 90th birthday. A historic and preserver of family traditions, he has for nearly a quarter of a century headed the Romanov Family Association, ITAR-TASS reports.

“In our family – from the first sovereign to our day – I am the first man to live to the age of 90. None of the Romanovs, beginning from Mikhail Fyodorovich, reached such an age,” Prince Nicholas notes.

His father – Prince Roman Petrovich – was the godson and third cousin of the last emperor and his mother – Princess Praskovia Dmitrievna (née Countess Sheremeteva) – was the daughter of Dimity Sheremetev, a childhood friend and aide-de-camp of Nicholas II. His parents got married in exile and his father was among to the last of the White Army forces to depart from the Crimea during the Civil War, taking with him a handful of dirt from his motherland. “He could not return, but that bottle filled with earth from the Crimea remained with him wherever he moved,” Prince Nicholas recalls.

Born in Cap d'Antibes near Antibes, France, Prince Nicholas nonetheless speaks perfect Russian, thanks to the efforts of his parents, who as he says instilled in him “the Russian spirit.” Prince Nicholas lived and studied in Rome. In 1942 the 19-year-old Nicholas turned down an offer by the Fascist government to rule occupied Montenegro.

In 1989 he became the President of the Romanov Family Association. “Neither I nor any of the other Romanov lay claim to anything – only to the right to be of use to Russia,” Nicholas says. One of the organization’s activities is providing philanthropic support to hospitals and kindergartens in Russia.

© Russkiy Mir. 01 October, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:59 PM EDT
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Collection of Pre-Revolution Films Returned to Russia
Topic: Russian History


Lenfilm Studios has received a collection of 350 Russian silent movies made before the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, the St. Petersburg City Culture Committee said on Friday, RIA Novosti reports. The collection was handed over by Steven Krams, president of Magna-Tech Electronic Co. Inc. The films were taken out of Russia during the Civil War.

Besides seminal cinematic works, there are also movies that are of historical value. As Drankov's famous footage of the writer Leo Tolstoy illustrates, making films was something of a fad among the upper classes in the latter days of the Russian Empire.  Indeed, even Tsar Nicholas II himself was said to have made some of these "home movies."

Krams decided to return the films to Russia as a sign of respect for Lenfilm Studios’ contribution to cinematography. According to Lenfilm board chairman Eduard Pichugin, the collection will arrive in Russia by December. The films will be digitized and prepared for screening. Lenfilm, Russia’s second largest film studio, was founded in 1918.

© Russkiy Mir and RFE/RL. 01 October, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:50 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 19 September 2012
Landslide Closes Tsar's Trail in Crimea
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 2 minutes, 48 seconds
Topic: Livadia


Nicholas II and his wife, Alexandra walking along the Tsar's Trail during one of their visits to Livadia 

The famous Tsar's Trail which stretches along the Black Sea coast of the Crimea has been closed due to a landslide.

Laid more than a century ago, Tsar Nicholas II and his family often walked the 6-km trail between Livadia and Oreanda, enjoying the spectacular views of the Black Sea and the mountain slopes.

Heavy rains contirbuted to the collapse of a 10-metre portion of the historic trail earlier this week. Local officials are blaming the development of high-rise apartments which aided with the erosion of the slopes since their construction in 2006.

Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Crimea Anatoly Mogilev is holding the construction company who build the high-rise apartments liable and has ordered them to restore the trail.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 19 September, 2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:04 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 19 September 2012 1:30 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 18 September 2012
Monument to Nicholas II to be Erected at Novy Svet
Topic: Nicholas II


Emperor Nicholas II with Prince Lev Golitsyn at Novy Svet, 1912 

A new monument to Emperor Nicholas II and Prince Lev Golitsyn will be unveiled at Novy Svet on September 28th.

The monument will mark Nicholas II's visit to the Crimea in the summer of 1912 where he toured the wine cellars and vineyards of Prince Lev Golitstyn.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 18 September, 2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:43 AM EDT
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Palace of Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich
Topic: Palaces


The St. Petersburg Palace of Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich is situated at Moika embankment, 122A. The palace was built in 1882-1885 according to the design of architect M. E. Messmacher. It is included in the federal list of Historical and Cultural Landmarks of the Russian Federation in St. Petersburg (by order of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 527 dd. July 10, 2001). Over the last several decades, the building stood vacant. In October 2005, the Russian Government transferred the building to the St. Petersburg Music House.

In 2006 the Constantine Foundation took part in the restoration of the palace, which is considered to be a masterpiece of eclectic architecture, embodying elements of various styles.

The sunken bathing pool, the walls decorated with beautiful ceramic tiles 

The extensive restoration included the preservation of the palace's elegant facade, the picturesque silhouette of its towers, the beautiful windows and doors, and its rich finishes and interiors.

The palace is now a venue for classical music, including international competitions and festivals. Guided tours (in Russian) are available by prior arrangement to groups of no more than 20 persons. Photographing the historical interiors is strictly forbidden by the administration.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 18 September, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:33 AM EDT
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Monday, 17 September 2012
Postcard from Russia No. 1 - Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo


Each time I visit St. Petersburg I am drawn to Tsarskoye Selo. I usually go in the morning, taking the train from the Vitebsky Railway Station. The 40-minute train ride delivers me to Detskoe Selo (soon to be renamed Tsarskoye Selo again), and from here I like to walk to the Catherine and Alexander Palaces.

Standing outside the Alexander Palace the golden cupolas of the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral can be seen in the near distance. A short walk through the park will bring you to the gates of this magnificent and holy place which are closely associated with Emperor Nicholas II and his family.

The cathedral consists of two churches one above the other. The upper church contains the main altar and an immense four-tier iconostasis, 11 metres tall, and adorned with vivid icons. The restoration of the iconostasis has taken many years to complete, its magnificence and beauty commands ones attention when entering the church.

The lower church is a "cave church" with an altar dedicated to Saint Serafim of Sarov. The private prayer chapels of Emperor Nicholas II and his wife, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna have also been restored. Originally, the lower church was adorned by genuine Russian icons and decorative plate. "Our cosy cave church," as Nicholas II referred to it, was consecrated on 27 November, 1912. The absence of natural light, low vaulted ceilings and the flickering lamps illuminating the age-old icons carried one away from the bustile of the outside world and encouraged thoughts of prayer.

The church suffered terribly under the Soviets. In 1991, however, the doors of the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral were reopened to believers, the first of the buildings in the vast complex to be made accessible again. The restorations which began some 20 years ago continue to this day.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 17 September, 2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:42 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 18 September 2012 8:05 AM EDT
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Sunday, 16 September 2012
The Changing Skyline of Ekaterinburg
Topic: Ekaterinburg


Since the fall of the Soviet Union the skyline of Ekaterinburg has changed dramatically. Many historic buildings dating from the Tsarist period have been torn down to make way for modern office towers and luxury condominiums.

Once a "closed city" to foreigners during the Soviet years, the city has taken advantage of its geographical position to become a hub for business between east and west in post-Soviet Russia.

The unique image above is a GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) which depicts the Ekaterinburg skyline as it looked in 1909, then changing to depict it as it looks today. The transformation is astonishing. Dominating the right-hand side of each image is the Ascension Church (which was situated across the road from the Ipatiev House), and dominating the left-hand side of each image is the Rastorguyev-Kharitonov Palace (also situated across from the former Ipatiev House). The dominating building in the 2012 image is of course the Church on the Blood which was built on the site of the Ipatiev House, where the last tsar, Nicholas II and his family were all murdered on July 17th, 1918.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 16 September, 2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:16 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 18 September 2012 6:34 PM EDT
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