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Friday, 18 January 2013
Tsarskoye Selo Honours Saint Seraphim of Sarov
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo


January 15th marked the 180th anniversary of the death of Saint Seraphim of Sarov. In honour of this anniversary, a cross was erected in memory of an unfinished church which stood on the spot in 1916.

The church was to constructed in honour of the miraculous escape of Anna Vyrubova, friend and confidant of the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, who survived a horrific train disaster on January 2 [O.S.], 1915.

At the initiative of Vyruobova, the Saint Seraphim Hospital was opened, designed for Russian soldiers officers wounded during World War One. The hospital could hold up to 50 patients at one time. In the spring of 1916, Empress Alexandra allocated a plot of land for the construction of hospital buildings and the Saint Seraphim of Sarov Church. A cross was erected on the spot where the church would be constructed.

On November 5 [O.S.], 1916, a liturgy was held during the laying of the foundation stone for the new church. The service was attended by Emperor Nicholas II and his family, Anna Vyrubova, and members of the clergy.

Sadly, the outbreak of the February Revolution in 1917 and other subsequent events prevented further  construction of the church. The church was nothing more than a simple wooden frame measuring 20 x 20 meters. After the Revolution the church was destroyed. Some sources say it was burnt to the ground, while others maintain that it was dismantled for firewood by locals.

One point of interest is that it was here that Rasputin's body was buried on December 21, 1916, on the north side of the church. His final resting place was disrupted in March 1917 by the Bolsheviks, who dug up his remains and subsequently destroyed them.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 18 January, 2013



Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:34 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 18 January 2013 6:04 PM EST
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Thursday, 17 January 2013
The Alexander Palace - A New Documentary
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 27 minutes, 42 seconds
Topic: Alexander Palace

Note: please allow 15 seconds for the video to begin 

The Russian Travel Guide in association with the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve have produced a new documentary on the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo. The 27 minute documentary was filmed in the autumn of 2012, it is directed by Evgeny Belov and hosted/narrated in Russian by Eugenia Altfeld. 

The Alexander Palace was the beloved home of Tsar Nicholas II and his family. It was here that the last tsar was born in 1868, and it was from here that he was sent into exile and murdered along with his family and faithful retainers  at Ekaterinburg on July 17th, 1918.

The first part of the documentary explores the Alexander Park, its buildings and pavilions, including: Armoury, Chinese Village, White Tower, Children's Island, and Equine Cemetary.

The second part explores some of the historical interiors of the Alexander Palace which are currently open to the public, including the recently restored State Rooms.

This video is only available in Russian. If you do not understand Russian, do not allow that to deter you from watching and enjoying this stunning visual tour of the Alexander Palace and park.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 17 January, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:05 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 17 January 2013 8:17 AM EST
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Grand Palace at Peterhof Closed for Restorations
Topic: Peterhof


Restoration of the Grand Staircase in the Grand Palace, Peterhof. Photo © Peterhof State Museum Preserve 

The Peterhof State Museum Preserve have announced that the Grand Palace will be closed from January 14th to February 20th, 2013 while they carry out restoration work on the palace.

Restoration work will be carried out in several interiors, including the Portrait Hall, Partridge Room, and the Grand Staircase.

Work on the Grand Staircase will include the restoration of the gilded carvings and statues, the replacement of elements of the parquet floors, and general touch ups of the windows and doors.


Photo © Peterhof State Museum Preserve 

The Grand Staircase was designed in the Baroque style by Rastrelli between 1751-1755. It included forged openwork lattice, gilded vases and sculptures. The inlaid parquet floors were made from five different kinds of wood. The walls were decorated in a colourful unique style which imitated wood carving. The crowning glory was the magnificent ceiling painting Spring, by the Italian master, Bartolomeo Tarsia.

During World War II, the Grand Palace was almost completely destroyed. Reconstruction of the palace began in 1948. The reconstruction of the Grand Staircase began in 1962, with the finishing touches completed in 1985.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 17 January, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:04 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 17 January 2013 2:44 PM EST
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Wednesday, 16 January 2013
Buranovskiye Babushki Visit Ganina Yama
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 13 minutes, 47 seconds
Topic: Ganima Yama

The Buranovskiye Babushki (Buranovo Grannies) visited Ganina Yama, near Ekaterinburg on January 10th, where they received a guided tour of the monastery.

The Buranovskiye Babushki is a group of eight elderly women from the village of Buranovo, Udmirtia, which is situated halfway between the Volga and the Urals in Russia. They represented Russia at the Eurovision Song Contest 2012 in Baku, Azerbaijan, where they finished in second place.

The group perform most of their songs in the Udmurt language, but have become one of Russia's most popular groups in the past year.

In 2010 they started a fund for the rebuilding of the Trinity Church in Buranovo. The church was originally built of stone in 1865, but was closed in 1939 by the Soviets and subsequently demolished. Proceeds from their musical events now go towards the church's reconstruction.

Even if you do not understand Russian, do not allow that to deter you from watching this video of these charming group of grandmothers as they visit one of Russia's holiest sites dedicated to the Holy Tsar Martyrs.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 16 January, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:49 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 16 January 2013 12:06 PM EST
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Tuesday, 15 January 2013
The War Years of Prince David Chavchavadze
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 5 minutes, 15 seconds
Topic: Chavchavadze

Prince David Chavchavadze is the subject of a short documentary and interview broadcast on Russian television recently in which he discusses his service during the Second World War. Chavchavadze entered the United States Army in 1943. After the war he entered Yale University, he then spent two decades as a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer in the Soviet Union Division.

Born at London, England in 1924, David Chavchavadze is descended from the royal houses of Georgia, Russia, Denmark and Greece. His father, Prince Paul Chavchavadze (1899-1971) was a direct descendant of the last King of Georgia, George XII. His mother, Princess Nina Georgievna (1901-1974), was the daughter of Grand Duchess Marie Georgievna (1876-1940) and Grand Duke George Mikhailovich (1863-1919).

Prince David Chavchadze is the author of 2 books: The Grand Dukes (1990), Crowns and Trenchcoats: A Russian Prince in the CIA (1990). In 2012, he authorized a reprint of his grandmother's memoirs, A Romanov Diary: The Autobiography of the Grand Duchess Marie Georgievna of Russia, published by Gilbert's Books (the publishing division of Royal Russia).

Video courtesy of

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 15 January, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:16 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 15 January 2013 7:09 PM EST
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Romanov Collectibles and Memorabilia No. 1
Topic: Collectibles


This beautiful colour calendar dating from 1910 showcases the last Imperial family: Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, and their five children: the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and the Tsesarevich Alexei.

The price in the lower right hand corner was 20 kopecks!

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 15 January, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:00 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 15 January 2013 11:06 AM EST
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Sunday, 13 January 2013
Order of St. Anne Sells for $59,000
Topic: Russian Orders


Photo: The Order of St. Anne, enamel, gold and diamonds, the red guilloche cross and openwork panels set with 106 rose cut diamonds, 18K gold hanging ring, removable center ring with St. Anne on one side, gold marked with St. Petersburg '56' and arms of the city.

A Russian St. Anne medal garnered particular interest at this year's Kaminski Auction's New Year's Sale, held at Beverly, Massachusetts.

The head of the Imperial House of Russia bequeathed these medals of the Order of St. Anne to those who preformed outstanding civil or military service. Receiving this imperial gift constituted one of the highest honors, and conferred upon the recipient a title of nobility. Certainly sought after during the reign of the Czars, the fine medals continue to draw many admirers today. Within the past decade, two of these medals have appeared for auction in Europe. In 2005, Christie’s sold a St. Anne medal of the first class for $39,000.00 in London, and in 2008 the Galerie Numismatique in France sold a medal of the third class for a record $475,000.00. The sale of the St. Anne medal at Kaminski appears to set a new record for sales in the United States, replacing the previous record of $25,000.00 set in 2010 at Jackson’s Auction in Iowa. The beautiful piece, which features a painted enamel image of St. Anne at the center of a red guilloche cross, was the highest selling lot of the auction. With keen interest from five phone bidders and a large number of online bidders, the medal ultimately sold for $59,000.00 on January 11th.

© Art Daily. 13 January, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:05 AM EST
Updated: Monday, 14 January 2013 7:15 AM EST
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Saturday, 12 January 2013
A Russian Moment No. 4 - Ganina Yama
Topic: A Russian Moment


A frosty, snow-covered evening envelopes Ganina Yama 

Ganina Yama was a 9 foot pit in the Four Brother's Mine near the village of Koptyaki (about 15 km north of Ekaterinburg). In the early morning hours of July 17th 1918, the bodies of Tsar Nicholas II, his family and faithful retainers were secretly transported to Ganina Yama and thrown into the pit.  Desperate to conceal their crime, the Bolsheviks later returned, retrieved the bodies from the pit and buried them in two unmarked graves at the Porosenskov Ravine, situated about 2.8 km from Ganina Yama.

A lone pilgrim approaches a wooden causeway built around the abandoned mine pit. The site has become a popular spot for Orthodox Christians and monarchists, who come here to pray and reflect on the Tsar Martyrs.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 12 January, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:40 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 30 March 2013 1:00 PM EDT
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Friday, 11 January 2013
Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral - Then and Now
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo

The Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral as it looked in 1977 
My first visit to the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral at Tsarskoye Selo was in the early 1990s. I recall vividly the sadness that I felt in my heart upon seeing the state of the building for the first time. Decades of neglect at the hands of the local Soviet had left this historic and holy site in near ruin.

During the Soviet years the Cathedral was desecrated and pillaged before it was finally closed in 1933.

After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church. It was consecrated again on February 29th, 1992. Restoration of the Cathedral lasted nearly 20 years, and once again, the Cathedral is the crown jewel of Tsarskoye Selo. Celebrations marking its 100th anniversary were held in September of last year.

Due to its history and association with the last Russian Imperial family, regular services are held in memory of Nicholas II and his family, all of whom were murdered at Ekaterinburg on July 17th, 1918.

It is one of the most beautiful churches in all of Russia and one that I highly recommend to visit and worship in.

The Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral as it looks today 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 11 January, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:59 PM EST
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Ankvab Receives Order of Holy Martyr Tsar Nicholas
Topic: Russian Church

President of Abkhazia, Alexander Ankvab has been awarded the Order of the Holy Martyr Tsar Nicholas on behalf of the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad Hilarion, Vestnik Kavkaza reports.

The order was awarded for Ankvab's work in strengthening Orthodoxy and preserving Orthodox shrines in Abkhazia. Alexander Ankvab was also given a myrrh-streaming icon of Tsar Nicholas.

© Russkiy Mir and Royal Russia. 11 January, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:04 PM EST
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