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Monday, 4 March 2013
Sofia Cancels Unveiling of Tsar Liberator Monument
Topic: Alexander II

The repaired monument of Tsar Osvodboditel (Liberator King) in downtown Sofia is not going to be officially unveiled on Liberation Day as previously announced.

Standard daily writes Sunday the City Hall has cancelled initial plans to have the monument shown on the day Bulgaria celebrates the 135th anniversary of its independence from 5-centuries of Ottoman Empire rule.

Mayor of Sofia, Yordanka Fandakova, told the Bulgarian National Radio, BNR, what mattered most was the fact the sculpture's repairs have concluded successfully.

According to unofficial information, the opening is postponed for some date after May 12 when the country will hold a snap general election.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Construction Chamber, Svetoslav Glosov, noted three reasons for the delay: the political crisis; avoiding mixing the Liberation Day official ceremonies with the one for the monument, and the unavailability of the Chair of the Foundation which financed the restoration to attend on March 3.

In September 2012, the monument was temporarily removed from its location in front of the building of the Parliament to undergo full restoration, which ended in November.

In October, sculptor Velislav Minekov and art expert Lyudmil Veselinov, members of the newly formed Bulgaria for Citizens party, stirred a scandal by disclosing that the monument was abandoned in a backyard in the village of Trebich near Sofia, with no restoration work being performed on it.

The legs of the horse were replaced with new bronze ones due to the many cracks.

The project was implemented by the Bulgarian Construction Chamber with financial assistance from the Pokolenie (Generation) Foundation.

The entire sculpture – the horse and rider, Tsar Alexander II, was dismantled and sent to a shop near the capital Sofia. Bulgarian and Russian restorers were engaged for the works, along with a number of scientists. The sculpture was cleaned from the patina while the foundation was stabilized and also cleaned.

The Monument to the Tsar Liberator was erected in honor of Russian Emperor Alexander II who liberated Bulgaria of Ottoman rule during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78.

The Neoclassical memorial's author is Italian sculptor Arnoldo Zocchi, who won the project in competition with 31 other artists from 12 countries in the end of the 19th century. Bulgarian architect Nikola Lazarov participated in the monument's architectural design.

The foundation stone was laid on 23 April 1901, St George's Day, in the presence of Knyaz Ferdinand I of Bulgaria, and the monument was completed on 15 September 1903.

Ferdinand also attended the monument's inauguration on 30 August 1907.

Erected of black polished granite from the nearby Vitosha Mountain, the monument consists of a pedestal, a middle part with figures and a massive Neo-Renaissance cornice finished with the sculpture of the Russian Tsar on a horse. The bronze wreath at the foot was donated by Romania in memory of the Romanian soldiers that died during the war.

The main bronze bas-relief in the middle part depicts a group of Russian and Bulgarian soldiers led by Nike, the Ancient Greek goddess of victory, who raises her sword high above. Portraits of Grand Duke Nicholas Nicolaievich, Count Ignatiev and the generals Joseph Vladimirovich Gourko and Mikhail Skobelev surround the group.

Other bas-reliefs feature scenes from the Battle of Stara Zagora, the signing of the Treaty of San Stefano and the opening ceremony of the Constituent National Assembly in Veliko Tarnovo, as well as portraits of prominent Bulgarian figures from the period.

© Sofia News Agency. 04 March, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:16 AM EST
Updated: Monday, 4 March 2013 9:31 AM EST
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Sunday, 3 March 2013
Beautiful Orthodox Churches of Russia No. 1
Topic: Beautiful Orthodox Churches




Today, I am launching a new series: Beautiful Orthodox Churches of Russia. This new series will feature short, illustrated articles about the history and architecture of the churches and cathedrals of old Russia. The Orthodox churches of Russia are magnificent architectural masterpieces of Tsarist Russia, some with a Romanov legacy attached to their history. Many miraculously survived the senseless desecration and destruction by the Bolsheviks and later the Soviets. Their survival, and rebirth are very much a part of the history of Russia and the reawakening of Christian faith in post-Soviet Russia    - PG.  

The beautiful Transfiguration Church at Nizhnyaya Sinyachikha is situated about 15 km (about 8 miles) from Alapayevsk in the Diocese of Ekaterinburg.

The Transfiguration Church was built in the Baroque style between 1794-1823. Crowned with nine gilded cupolas, the names of the architects are unknown.

After the Revolution, the church was desecrated by the Bolsheviks and subsequently closed in 1939. During the Soviet years it was used for a variety of purposes including a warehouse, mill, social club and a library.

In 1967, a local activist Ivan Samoylov began work on restoring the church. It took 11 years to complete the project.  Today, the church is part of the Nizhnyaya Sinyachikha open-air museum. The ground floor features a collection of frescoes, icons, old manuscripts and books, crosses and other religious items. The second floor is a unique exhibit of Ural art.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 03 March, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:15 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 6 September 2015 7:28 AM EDT
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Saturday, 2 March 2013
Giving Back to Russia - Tsarskoye Selo and Peterhof
Topic: Paul Gilbert


Since 1994, I have worked as an independent publisher and bookseller specializing in books and periodicals on the Romanov dynasty and Imperial Russia. In the past few years I have branched out into rare and second-hand books, and currently work through dealers in Moscow and St. Petersburg to offer collectors unique titles published in Russian and English.

Bookselling and publishing are my only means of support; I do not earn any income from Royal Russia at all. Therefore, I am very, very grateful to each and every one of you who support my online bookshop, because without your patronage there would be no Royal Russia.

Earning a living from my book business allows me to devote my free time to my web site and blog, even if that requires working extra hours 7 days a week. I love my work, and I trust that is reflected through my web site, blog and the publications that I produce. I am privileged and honoured to share Royal Russia with other Romanovphiles and Russophiles around the world.

Royal Russia is supported through the generous donations of people who share an interest in the Romanov dynasty and the history of Imperial Russia.

It is also supported by the sale of a calendar, created once a year with a unique theme and richly illustrated with rare and beautiful photographs and illustrations. The proceeds from the sale of this calendar help me to offset the costs of maintaining a growing web site and blog that is expected to receive 2 million visitors in 2013, a huge achievement and a new record!

I have been very blessed all these years to work at a job that I truly enjoy. As a result, I would like to start giving something back to Russia.

I am pleased to announce that on behalf of Gilbert's Books, I have made donations to the following;

$200.00 CAD to the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve 


$350.00 CAD to  the Peterhof State Museum-Preserve

These donations go towards restoration work and the acquisition of items for the palace-museum collections. I am very proud that I have been given the opportunity to make at least a small contribution to each museum. I am committed to helping to preserve the Romanov legacy when and where I can, and will continue to make ongoing donations in the years ahead.


Further, I have also made a personal donation in the amount of $250.00 CAD to the Children's Village at Pushkin. This wonderful organization helps orphaned Russian children, providing them with a safe place to live and grow. Helping children is a cause which is near and dear to my heart.

Once again, thank you to each and every one you who support my publishing efforts and bookshop, as well as those who purchased calendars and/or make donations to Royal Russia. Together, we are helping to keep the memories of old Russia alive!

© Paul Gilbert. 02 March, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 3 March 2013 7:51 AM EST
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Friday, 1 March 2013
Tsar's Cross Concert, St. Petersburg
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 5 minutes, 57 seconds
Topic: Events

On March 10th, 2013 the Alexander Nevsky Lavra in St. Petersburg will host the Tsar's Cross Concert, this year in honour of the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty. The annual concert features a recital by famed Russian spiritual singer, Irina Skorik.

Songs presented at the concert come from all over Russia. They reflect a page in the tragic history of the Russian state, the innermost stirrings of the Russian soul and the harmony, love, and courage of the last Imperial family of Russia.

Irina Skorik 

One critic wrote: "The harmonious combination of the songs and photos increases the aesthetic, emotional perception of the music combined with the lyrics which awakens in the soul a deep sense of love, repentance, faith, and amazing clarity."  

The above video offers a haunting spiritual song and slide presentation dedicated to the Holy Royal Martyrs Nicholas II and his family sung by Ms Skorik.

© Paul Gilbert. 01 March, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:38 PM EST
Updated: Sunday, 3 March 2013 7:54 AM EST
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© Royal Russia. 01 March, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:10 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 1 March 2013 8:12 AM EST
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Thursday, 28 February 2013
Kremlin to Celebrate Jubilee of World War I
Topic: World War I


The Kremlin has announced that Russia will mark the 100th anniversary of the country's entry into World War I in 2014. Russian authorities intend to refresh the knowledge of its citizens of Russia's participation in the Great War.

The Kremlin will order the burials of soldiers of the Russian army in the territory of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Armenia, Serbia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Greece and Germany. An online archive of documentary photographs and soldiers’ letters and memories of military operations will be created on the Internet. A monument will be erected in Moscow in memory of the victims onboard a hospital vessel which was sunk by a German submarine in 1916. 

Authorities also plan the founding of a uniform museum and archive of World War I.

The immense contribution which Russia played during the First World War was largely ignored during the Soviet years. A century later, it seems only fitting that Russia now honour those who sacrificed their lives for their country.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 28 February, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:17 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 28 February 2013 6:39 AM EST
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Wednesday, 27 February 2013
Lead Shot Fired at Tsar Nicholas II to be Sold
Topic: Faberge


The shot was recovered and mounted on a gold seal and presented to Tsar Nicholas II as a gift. Photo Credit: Wartski 

It may look innocuous, but this tiny lead ball is thought to have triggered a rebellion that saw millions of Russians die and gave rise to the world's first communist state.

When the ball of shot narrowly missed hitting Tsar Nicholas II after it was fired from a cannon in 1905 in St Petersburg, it is believed to have set in motion a chain of events that culminated in the Russian Revolution.

Now its unique place in history is expected to see the grapeshot ball - which has been privately owned for almost a century - fetch up to half a million pounds at auction.

The lead shot missed the Russian Tsar by three feet when it was fired during a ceremonial salute outside the Winter Palace in January 1905.

Although an investigation later found the shot had been fired by accident, Nicholas II is said to have been convinced he had been the target of an assassination attempt.

Three days later, the Russian Imperial Guard opened fire on a crowd of striking workers and their families during a peaceful demonstration, killing almost 100.

This incident earned the Tsar the title 'Nicholas the Bloody'* and led to a decade of civil unrest that culminated in the Russian Revolution of 1917.

*Bloody Sunday is the subject of a new article to appear in Royal Russia Annual No. 4, to be published August 2013. The author, Andrei Mantsov takes a new look at the facts of this historic event based on documents from the Russian archives, ones that are continually overlooked or ignored by Western historians - PG.

The rebellion dismantled the Tsarist autocracy in Russia and paved the way for the creation of the USSR, led by communist revolutionary Lenin.

Tsar Nicholas II and his family were executed in 1918.

The shot was recovered from scene of the 1905 'shooting' by a Russian duke who had been standing next to the Tsar at the time.

He took it to famed goldsmiths Faberge where the shot, which measures 1.5ins in diameter, was mounted on a gold seal that was later given to Nicholas II as a present.

A member of the royal court took it with him when he fled Russia at the outbreak of the revolution.

It has been in private ownership ever since but has now gone on general sale for the first time through London antiques dealer Wartski.

The item could sell for up to £500,000 given its 'exceptional' provenance and Faberge seal, experts said.

Wartski's managing director Geoffrey Munn, who has appeared on the BBC's Antiques Roadshow, said: 'This is a truly historic piece and an extraordinary treasure.

'The provenance is quite exceptional and from a time that now seems so remote yet was in an age of the motorcar and electricity.

'The will to revolution was born from this ball and the events that followed it being fired.'

Nicholas II's grandfather had been assassinated by revolutionary terrorists in 1881, and when he became Tsar in 1894, he used severe measures to subdue resistance movements.

But by 1905 he was seen as a weak leader, and on January 19 that year he concluded the grapeshot fired from a cannon was at attempt on his life.

This grapeshot ball is said to have missed him by three feet while another shattered a window, showering the Tsar's mother, the Dowager Empress, with splinters of glass.

© The Daily Mail. 27 February, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 3:17 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 6 March 2013 11:09 AM EST
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Tuesday, 26 February 2013
Cinematryoshka: Six Incarnations of Anna Karenina
Topic: Russian Film

There are more than 20 adaptations of Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. And the more they appear - they more critical notes they collect from Russian literary square-toes. They are trying desperately to accuse directors of being inattentive towards Anna's descriptions.

According to the text, Anna had full throat and shoulders, rounded arms with tiny slender wrists, firm strong neck and straying curls of dark hair. "All that was noticeable was the little wilful tendrils of her curly hair that would always break free about her neck and temples." She prefered to dress in black and simple gowns, and not in these colorful cake-like dresses with laces and ruches. "Her black dress, with its sumptuous lace, was not noticeable on her; it was only the frame, and all that was seen was she--simple natural, elegant, and at the same time gay and eager."

But who said that a director should relentlessly follow the description? He, as an artist, should be free to treat the text. So we won't judge anyone and let you decide, which Anna Karenina is the most Karenina ever. Is it slim Keira Knightley, or gentle and soft Marceau? Or the most beautiful women of the world of cinematography Greta Garbo and Vivien Leigh represents Anna's virtue the best? Are Russian actresses Tatiana Samoilova or Tatiana Drubich more close to the authentic Karenina? It is up to you to decide.

© Rossiyskaya Gazeta. 26 February, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:25 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 26 February 2013 11:31 AM EST
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Monday, 25 February 2013
Peterhof Discusses Future of Lower Palace of Nicholas II
Topic: Peterhof




Elena Kalnitskaya, General Director of the Peterhof State Museum-Preserve has announced that the museum is now discussing the future of the Lower Palace (or Lower Dacha) located in the Alexandria Park on the shore of the Gulf of Finland.

The Lower Palace was the home of Tsar Nicholas II and his family while in residence at Peterhof. After the Revolution, the palace became a museum until 1936. It was later used as a holiday home for the more privileged members of the NKVD (People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs). During the Second World War the palace was badly damaged. During the 1960s it became a popular spot with monarchists and a decision was made by the local Soviet to blow the building up. 

Kalnitskaya said that the museum is currently considering a number of options. Among them is the conservation of the ruins, or even a complete reconstruction of the palace. She made the announcement during an interview with in St. Petersburg. 

During the interview she noted that her father, who was born in 1915, told her about the days when it was a museum, "filled with lots of toys" that once belonged to the Tsar's children.

The subject of reconstructing the Lower Palace was raised several years back, however, the project was shelved due to lack of funding. According to museum staff, the storage vaults at Peterhof house a large repository of documents, plans, photographs, and items from the former palace that would allow them to rebuild the structure and open it as a museum dedicated to the private world of the last Tsar and his family.

Kalnitskaya noted that she favours the conservation of the ruins as "a monument to human barbarism of the 20th century." All options will be reviewed by a special committee before a final decision is made. 

The ruins of the Lower Palace are a short walk from the Cottage Palace in the Alexandria Park, however, accessibility is now greatly restricted due to a large fence that was erected in 2004.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 25 February, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:15 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, 21 April 2016 8:12 AM EDT
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Saturday, 23 February 2013
Power and Time: Images of Russian Monarchs in Modern Painting
Topic: Exhibitions


In celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty, the Artillery Museum in St. Petersburg is hosting a unique exhibition, Power and Time: Images of Russian Monarchs in Modern Painting.

The exhibit showcases a total of 72 portraits of the Russian monarchs from the founder of the Rurik dynasty to the last monarch, Emperor Nicholas II of the Romanov dynasty.

The uniqueness of this project lies in the fact that the portraits are done in the Parsuna style which was popular during the 17th century in Russia. Portraits created in this style reflect a strong dependence on iconography.

Along with the gallery of Russian monarchs are iconic paintings of the heavenly patrons of Russia, as well as paintings of various scenes of Russian history. More than 200 portraits are on display, created by established artists and students of art schools including the St. Petersburg State University of Culture and Arts.

The Artillery Museum is the oldest military museum in Russia and situated directly across from the Peter and Paul Fortress. The exhibition will run through April 2013.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 23 February, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:05 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 23 February 2013 8:30 AM EST
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