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400th Anniversary
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Wednesday, 31 July 2013
Tsar's Rooms in Peter and Paul Cathedral Open
Topic: Peter and Paul Fortress

The Tsar's Rooms have reopened in the Peter and Paul Cathedral at St. Petersburg. The interiors of the Tsar’s Rooms have been recreated for the first time since 1917. In them you can see exhibits from the collections of the State Museum of the History of St. Petersburg, which reveal the importance of the cathedral as one of the main places of worship in the former Russian capital.

The Tsar’s Rooms are located in the gallery connecting the Peter and Paul Cathedral and the Grand Ducal Mausoleum. The rooms were built in the early 20th century by Leon Benois (1856-1928) and intended for the use of the Imperial family while visiting the cathedral. Four rooms were decorated in the style of Louis XV and furnished with furniture made by the St. Petersburg factory Friedrich Melzer.

The rooms suffered considerable damage during the Soviet era. The restoration of the Tsar's Rooms began in 2011-2013, with every care taken to preserve much of the historic interiors.

The rooms currently house portraits of the Russian emperors and empresses: Peter I, Catherine I, Elizabeth I, Paul I, Alexander I, Nicholas I, Alexander II, Nicholas II. Also on display are panoramic views of St. Petersburg of the 19th century, depicting the palaces and buildings of the imperial capital - the Peter and Paul Fortress and St. Peter and Paul Cathedral, the Winter Palace and the Palace Embankment, the Admiralty and the Cabinet of Curiosities, The Summer Garden.

An entire section of the current exhibit is devoted to the burial and memorials to members of the Romanov dynasty who are buried in the Peter and Paul Cathedral. Of particular interest is a memorial wreath (see photo) originally placed on the tomb of Emperor Alexander II after his assassination by terrorists in 1881.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 31 July, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:47 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 31 July 2013 5:19 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 30 July 2013
The Royal Family - A Sculpture by Vladimir Lepeshov
Topic: Holy Royal Martyrs

In 2008, Russian sculptor Vladimir Lepeshov created The Royal Family, a sculpture dedicated to the last tsar and his family at his studio in Rostokino, situated just northeast of Moscow.
The sculpture depicts Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra Feodorovna, their four daughters, Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, and their only son and heir to the throne, Alexei.
Leposhov creates what he calls Christian art, and that he created the sculpture with the hope his sculptor of the Holy Royal Martyrs would inspire others. "I had been working on the sculpture for several years, sketching portraits and then took a break for three years," he said. "Then I returned to the sculptor using hundreds of still photographs which helped me immensely."
The sculpture is displayed at exhibitions across Russia, including the Autumn Salon in 2012, an annual exhibition project hosted by the Union of Artists at Sergiev Posad since 2000. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 30 July, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:04 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 4 August 2013 9:44 AM EDT
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Monday, 29 July 2013
Central Naval Museum Opens in St. Petersburg
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 43 seconds
Topic: Museums


The Central Naval Museum in St. Petersburg has a new address. It was founded in 1709, by order of Peter the Great, making it one of the oldest museums in Russia. It was here that the Russian tsar kept his ship's drawings and models. The museum was originally housed in the Admiralty, but it was moved in the late 1930s into the former Stock Exchange located on the Spit of Vasilievsky Island. In 2007, it was decided to move the museum to a new location, the renovated Kryukov Barracks on the Moika Canal at Bolshaya Morskaya,69.

Several thousand visitors were onhand for the grand opening of the museum on July 28th. The area of the atrium and the showrooms opened for visitors at present makes more than 3 thousand square meters, which is much more than the overall area of the old museum. Altogether the exhibition areas in the Barracks buildings will be increased up to 8 thousand square meters. The museum is going to have 19 exhibition halls (the storage vaults of the museum hold an estimated 700,000 items), restoration workshops, a studio of marine painters, a scientific and technical library, a photo laboratory, a cafe and a conference hall.

One of the most interesting sections of the museum is dedicated to the history of Russian Imperial navy fleets - the Northern, Baltic, Black Sea, the Pacific. The museum also holds a large collection of items pertaining to the Imperial yachts, including scale models, uniforms, porcelain, photographs, and much more.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 29 July, 2013 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:04 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 31 July 2013 6:36 AM EDT
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Sunday, 28 July 2013
Celebrating Two Centuries of the Russian Academy of Arts
Topic: Russian Art

The Assembly Hall, Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg 

The Russian Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg, was founded in 1757 by Ivan Shuvalov under the name Academy of the Three Noblest Arts. The Empress Catherine II renamed it the Imperial Academy of Arts and commissioned a new building, completed 25 years later in 1789 by the Neva River.

The Academy of Arts was one of the most ambitious institutions of its time, enrolling students as young as five years old. A rare copy of the academy’s charter is owned by the British Library. Voice of Russia's Vivienne Nunis has been talking to some of the experts who think the academy deserves wider academic respect.

Celebrating Two Centuries of the Russian Academy of Arts

© Voice of Russia. 28 July, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:09 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 28 July 2013 7:32 PM EDT
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Saturday, 27 July 2013
Interview with Grand Duke George Mikhailovich of Russia
Topic: Russian Imperial House

Grand Duke George Mikhailovich was born in Madrid 13 March, 1981, the son of Prince Franz Wilhelm of Prussia (at the time styled HIH Grand Duke Michael Pavlovich of Russia) and Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia, only child of Vladimir Cyrillovich, Grand Duke of Russia. He was baptised on 6 May 1981, in Madrid; his godfather is King Constantine II of Greece. Also present at the baptism were King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofía of Spain and King Simeon II and Queen Margarita of Bulgaria.
An Interview with Grand Duke George Mikhailovich in (Newspaper Monarkist), by M.N. Kulybin earlier this month. 
Click Here to Read the Interview (English)

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 27 July, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:28 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 27 July 2013 5:41 PM EDT
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Friday, 26 July 2013
August Visits to the Crimea
Topic: Books

A beautiful new pictorial has been published in the the Ukraine, entitled August Visits to the Crimea, by Alexander Balinchenko and Vadim Prokopenkov.
The album highlights the August visits of Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, and their children during their visits to the Crimea in the years 1900, 1902 and 1909.
The book is presented as a large photo album in an attractive slipcase. It includes 109 black and white photographs by Karl E. von Kahn, the famous Court photographer at Tsarskoye Selo.
The photographs are from three albums held in the archives of the Vorontsov Palace at Alupka. The previously unpublished images provide a look at the private and public life of the last Russian Imperial family in the region before the Revolution.
"Of the hundreds of original photographs, we selected the most rare and interesting images which reflected the little-known life of the royal family in the Crimea," said Irina Pluzhnik, Director of the Massandra Palace. 
"Work on the project lasted 6 months," she added, "the archives of the Alupka Palace Museum houses a large collection of photographs of the royal family related to their many visits to the Crimea, many of which are unique. We also possess a rare photo album in honour of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, presented to her by Anna Vyrubova." 
It is interesting to note that the visits to the Crimea represented in this album were taken before the new Livadia palace was constructed by Nicholay Krasnov in 1911. The photographs of the Imperial family in residence show the old wooden palaces known as the Large and Small Livadia palaces constructed by Ippolito Monighetti.  
The book launch was held in the halls of the Vorontsov Palace at Alupka, situated near Yalta, it is published in Russian by Tauride Sebastopol.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 26 July, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:40 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 26 July 2013 8:07 AM EDT
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Celebrations of 1025th Anniversary of Baptism of Rus
Topic: Russian Church

On July 24, 2013, the feast-day of St. Olga, Equal-to-the-Apostles, Grand Duchess of Russia, Divine Liturgy was served at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow, in the presence of the Cross of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called, brought to Russia for celebration of the 1025th anniversary of Baptism of Russia from the city of Patras (Greece) with the blessing of the Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens and All Greece.

The service was celebrated by the heads of local Orthodox Churches and the heads of delegations of local Orthodox Churches, who had arrived to the capital of Russia for participation in celebrations of 1025th anniversary of Baptism of Russia, the Patriarch and members of the Holy Synod, hierarchs and clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The Liturgy was celebrated in a special order of services for the day of Baptism of Rus ("The service to our Lord, glorified in the Trinity, in the memory of Baptism of Rus, and Holy Grand Prince Vladimir, Equal-to-the-Apostles"). The chants of the service were composed by Hiero-Confessor Athanasius (Sakharov) and are dedicated to the memory of Baptism of Russia and all the Saints of Russia.

Ambassadors of Slavic countries and representatives of the Russian and Ukrainian governments were present at the service.

© 26 July, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:30 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 26 July 2013 6:35 AM EDT
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Thursday, 25 July 2013
The Italians Who Revamped Russia
Topic: Architecture

Cathedral of the Dormition in the Moscow Kremlin. Artist: Henry Charles Brewer (1866-1950) 

Several centuries ago, the Renaissance changed the face of Moscow forever.

Having built up a prestigious and powerful state, Prince Ivan III decided to decorate his city with new buildings to reflect its grandeur. He wanted the most beautiful buildings, the latest designs and the most cutting-edge technology. So the prince sent his servants to Italy to hire the best architects of the Renaissance era to design buildings for the Kremlin complex in the center of Moscow.

“At the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries, like most European countries, Russia’s architecture experienced the Renaissance,” Moscow Architectural Institute Rector, Dmitry Shvidkovsky explained.

“Here in the Kremlin we can see the characteristics of different facets of the Italian renaissance: Venetian, Bolognese, and Milanese. It was completed with Russian ideas, giving birth to a very interesting new style that generated a revolution in Russian architecture.”

The Kremlin’s Dormition Cathedral was built by Bolognese architect Aristotel Fioravanti. Some researchers believe he was chosen by Princess Zoe Sophia Palaiologina, the second wife of Ivan III. She was the niece of the last Byzantine emperor and she had lived in Italy before marrying Ivan.

“When Sophia arrived in Moscow, she was not alone – she brought with her a grand entourage. We know that the main Kremlin cathedral was in a very bad state and nobody knew how to reconstruct it. It was likely Sophia’s idea to search for an architect in Italy,” said architectural historian Federica Rossi.

Italian architect Aristotel Fiorovanti refused to reconstruct the dilapidated cathedral. Instead, he opened a brick factory and used the new materials for a new building. The Orthodox demands of the client were skillfully combined with the latest Renaissance innovations and in just four years a masterpiece was born.

“Some scholars believe that he not only created the Dormition Cathedral, but also began the construction of the Kremlin walls,” Rossi said.

Most of the Kremlin walls and towers were built by Pietro Antonio Solari and Marco Ruffo from Milan. Solari and Ruffo constructed the Palace of Facets – a small part of the grand palace that has not been preserved. Both architects are known in history under the common last name ‘Fryazin’, which is how the Moscovites called those who came from Italy.

Ivan III would never see this masterpiece of the Venetian school: the Cathedral of the Archangel. Its creator, Aloisio de Montagnano, came to Russia a year before the death of the ruler.

Shvidkovsky said that the Italian influence transformed Russian architecture: “After Italian architects worked in the Kremlin, Russian architecture became more joyful, more bright, more picturesque.”

But the work of Italian architects in Moscow extends beyond the Kremlin. The first so-called ‘tent-roof’ stone church in Russia was constructed in the summer residence of the Russian rulers, at Kolomenskoe, which is now part of Moscow. Little is known about its creator, Pietro Annibale, who, like many other Italian architects, never left Russia.

Rossi said: “He tried to escape Russia but he was stopped at the border. He was questioned and the documentation from that interrogation has survived, which gives us some insights into him. [He helped to create a new style here in Russia], and when a new style appears in architecture everyone starts to work with it.”

Like many researchers, Federica believes that the new style inspired the creator of Russia’s most famous cathedral, located in Red Square. Saint Basil’s Cathedral is composed of nine churches, and the central one has the same ‘tent-roof’ form. The name of the architect is still unknown.

“We see the dialogue of the Russian and European cultures in this cathedral; those cultures talk and listen to each other,” said Saint Basil’s Cathedral guide Maria Galkina.

There were dozens of Italian architects who came to Russia from Renaissance Italy.

Could one of them perhaps have been the creator of the masterpiece of Saint Basil?

This secret remains a mystery – one that may never be solved.

© Euronews. 25 July, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:34 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 25 July 2013 10:02 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 24 July 2013
Restoration of Lvov Manor House at Strelna
Topic: Strelna

The restoration of the Lvov manor or country house at Strelna, near St. Petersburg is now underway. The project which includes the restoration of the historical facade and roof will cost of 12 million Rubles ($370,000 USD). The restoration of the interiors and adjoining park have been delayed due to lack of funding.
The former manor house of Prince Alexander Dmitrievich Lvov, called Alexandrovka,  is situated on the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland, between Peterhof and Strelna. At the beginning of the 19th century the land belonged to an English merchant, and in 1838, the house passed to the ownership of Paul Constantinovich Alexandrov, the illegitimate son of Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich.

It was at this time that the architect Alexander Karlovich Coleman remodeled the house in the English Gothic style complete with turrets. After the death of Alexandrov in 1857, his widow, nee Princess Scherbatova lived there. At her death the country house became the property of Prince Alexander Dmitrivich Lvov. He played an important role in the social life of Strelna at the end of the 19th to early 20th centuries.
In 1881, he privately funded the establishment of the first volunteer fire brigade. It consisted of 32 people and had a stable for 14 horses. It maintained a brigade school where fire wardens and senior firemen were trained, and a fire tower. His brigade was very efficient, and over a 10 year period, Lvov was responsible for helping to fight more than 200 fires in the Strelna region. As a sign of their gratitude, local residents presented the Prince with a gold fireman's helmet. The helmet has not survived, however, in 1935 a copy was made by local firefighters and kept as a reminder of Prince Lvov's duty to the community.
Lvov also served as head of the Polza Society in Strelna, Chairman of the Peterhof council and sanitary committee, and chairman of the Strelna Society of Amateur Cyclists. His personal interests and social concerns earned him the love and respect of locals. The street running in front of his manor house was renamed in his name, and bears it to this day.
Locals refer to the house as Lvov Palace, and today houses the local municipal council and administration offices for the town of Strelna. Prince Lvov is believed to have died during the Russian Civil War in 1919.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 24 July, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:48 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 24 July 2013 12:54 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 23 July 2013
A Sacrificing Love: New Martyr Grand Duchess Elizabeth
Topic: Elizabeth Feodorovna GD

Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna (right) with her sister, the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna at the Alexander Palace 
The Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna (nee Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Louise Alice of Hesse and by Rhine) was born on October 20, 1861, the daughter of Princess Alice of Hesse and the granddaughter of Queen Victoria of England, under whose strict tutelage she received both an extensive and a practical education. Her mother died when she was still young, the first tragedy in a life marked by inner suffering. But through greatness of spirit, her sorrow at the absence of maternal love was later transformed into a tender and solicitous compassion for others who lacked this love.
Please click on the link below to read an eloquent tribute to the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna by the late Metropolitan Anastassy.

 © Orthodox America. 23 July, 2013



Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:22 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 23 July 2013 9:45 AM EDT
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