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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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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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Wednesday, 5 September 2012
Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral at Tsarskoye Selo Marks 100th Anniversary
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo

Entrance to the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral at Tsarskoye Selo
Celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral at Tsarskoye Selo were held on September 2nd, which included a divine liturgy attended by local parishoners, visiting dignitaries and representatives of the St. Petersburg diocese.

Construction of the Cathedral began in 1908, in  a meadow of the north-east corner of the Alexander Park, the location having been selected by Emperor Nicholas II.

The foundation of the Cathedral was laid on 20 August, 1909 in the presence of the Imperial family. The construction was financed by the tsar himself who contributed 150,000 gold rubles from his own personal funds.

The Feodorovsky Sovereign's Church became the household church of the last Russian Imperial family. The Cathedral consisted of two churches, the upper consisted of the main altar dedicated to the Feodorovsky Icon of Our Lady and a side chapel consecrated in honour of the Moscow Metropolitan Alexis, the All-Russia Miracle Worker. The lower part of the building housed the Cave Church with the altar dedicated to Saint Serafim of Sarovsk the Miracle Worker, and the private chapel of Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna.

The Feodorovsky Icon of Our Lady, the main icon of the Cathedral, was regarded as a symbol of the Romanov dynasty and the crown itself.

During the Soviet years the Cathedral was descrated 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. 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 on July 17th, 1918.

Emperor Nicholas II is also commemorated with a bronze bust erected in the garden located in behind the Cathedral in 1993.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 05 September, 2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:52 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 4 September 2012
Tsarskoye Selo in 1941
Now Playing: Source: ITAR-TASS. Language: NA. Duration: 47 seconds.
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo

Dimitri Silbermann, a Berlin-based collector and researcher, has shared with the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve the digital copies of nineteen photographs from his private collection showing Tsarskoye Selo in about the end of 1941.

Mr Silbermann established that the original 6 x 9 cm pictures were made by an amateur photographer from the 58th Infantry Division, a unit of the German Army (Wehrmacht) under Generalleutnant Friedrich Altrichter then quartered in Uritsk (now South Western St Petersburg).

Being of historical importance, these photographs greatly compliment the Museum collection which so far has had wartime pictures taken as early as 1942, when a number of the Tsarskoye Selo monuments were already destroyed and the objects left behind were looted and moved to Germany.

The photos of 1941 show the Nazis posing complacently on the background of yet intact interiors of the Catherine Palace and having a coronation mockery scene possibly in one of the Antechambers. We can see the pre-war décors in the park pavilions, the later completely destroyed icons in the Palace Chapel, the bronze Hercules and Flora still on their pedestals at the Cameron Gallery.

Many details from the history of the German occupation of Pushkin town are unknown yet. Archived in hundreds of places around the world, the documents of that period are still waiting to be researched. That is why any photographic materials showing Tsarskoye Selo with its palaces and parks during 1941–44 are so important.

© Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve. 04 September, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:05 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 5 September 2012 8:09 AM EDT
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Sunday, 26 August 2012
Tsarskoye Selo Station to Regain Historic Name
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo


The administration of the Pushkin District have voted to restore the historic name of the main train station at Puskhin. The station will be renamed Tsarskoye Selo-Pushkin.

According to Tatiana Bogulyubova, Deputy Head of the Administration, "the return of the historic name will assist visitor's with orientation". During the Soviet years the train station was known as Detskoe Selo (Children's Village), the name of which has no association to Tsarskoye Selo or Pushkin whatsoever.

After the Russian Revolution, Tsarskoye Selo was renamed Detskoe Selo, and in 1937 was renamed Pushkin.

The renaming of one of Russia's oldest train station's also has the support of Russian Railways.

Tsarskoye Selo can be reached from the Vitebsky Railway Station in St. Petersburg. Upon arrival, there are local buses or taxis that will take visitors to the Catherine and Alexander Palaces, or it is a 45-minute walk.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 26 August, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:46 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 26 August 2012 7:07 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 14 August 2012
Tsarskoye Selos' Gostiny Dvor to be Auctioned
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo


Gostiny Dvor in Tsarskoye Selo as it looked in the early 20th century 

One of the greatest architectural treasures of Russian retailing is being put up for auction. The neoclassical Gostiny Dvor shopping complex in the town of Pushkin is ‘little brother’ to another in St Petersburg. The starting price is $7.7 million.

­At 10,000 square feet this is no mega-mall. It was built in 1866 during the reign of Emperor Alexander II, and houses thirteen shop units.

The town of Pushkin is also home to the former residence of the imperial family, the Tsarskoye Selo is a protected UNESCO site. 

The new owner of the mall will have to agree to preserve the historical nature of the building.

Gostiny Dvor is the Russian version of a department store, with a selection of individual stores occupying separate sections of the building.  

In the 19th Century, they were constructed in every large Russian town with St Petersburg’s Gostiny Dvor one of the first shopping arcades in the world.

© Russia Today. 14 August, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:10 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 14 August 2012 11:18 AM EDT
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Saturday, 11 August 2012
Tsarskoye Selo Commemorative Coin
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo


The Pacific island of Niue has issued an unusual coin puzzle commemorating Tsarskoye Selo. The silver coin is composed of five parts and reflects the history of the former palace complex of the Romanovs.

In the central part of each coin is the effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the incriptions - ELIZABETH II, NIUE ISLAND (issuer), the mint's mark, 2 DOLLARS (face value), 2012 (year of issue), Ag 925 (alloy of silver).

On the reverse of the central coin is the image of the front gate of the Catherine Palace. The left coin - the effigy of Empress Elizabeth in pad printing technology. The right coin - the effigy of Emperior Nicholas II, the last tsar who was in residence before the October Revolution. The top coin - the image of the front elevation of the Catherine Palace. The bottom coin - the image of the eastern front elevation of the Cameron Gallery.

Each irregular coin is decorated by rococo ornament and an insertion of amber stylized as the decorations of the Amber room in the Catherine Palace.

All Niueans are citizens of New Zealand, and HM Queen Elizabeth II is head of state.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 11 August, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:55 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 24 July 2012
Romanov Quadricentenary Egg
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 1 minute, 5 seconds
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo


In 1913 Tsar Nicholas II presented his wife, the Empress Alexandra Fedorovna, the Romanov Tercentenary Egg designed and made by Carl Fabergé.  This Easter gift was presented on 14th April 1913.

In 2003 Theo Fabergé, grandson of Carl Fabergé, has designed the Romanov Quadricentenary Egg which was presented to the Tsarskoye Selo Palace-Museum.

The theme of the Egg is the quadricentenary of the House of Romanov, which had been founded by Mikhail Fedorovich Romanov in 1613.

This Egg with 18 miniature decorations, celebrating the 18 Romanov Tsars, is created in solid sterling silver with sapphire blue royal guilloché enamel and 18 carat gold.  The finial of the Egg is the double-headed Romanov eagle, but in fact a triple-headed eagle, so that from which ever angled viewed the double-headed eagle is visible.  The base, ornamentally turned on Theo Fabergé’s Holtzapfel lathe from 1860, again celebrates the 18 Romanov Tsars with 18 deep cuts and covered with pure 24 carat gold.

The surprise within, the Romanov Griffen in sterling silver and 24 carat gold with a sword set in diamonds.  The Griffen can be removed and displayed outside of the Egg.

© Tsarskoye Selo Palace-Museum Preserve. 24 July, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:12 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 25 July 2012 1:19 PM EDT
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Thursday, 28 June 2012
Update on the Restoration of the Agate Rooms
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo


The Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve has reported on the restoration of the Agate Rooms which began in January 2011. The progress of the restoration is monitored quarterly. This year’s second quarter checkup was carried out by representatives of the TransSoyuz Charitable Foundation (sponsor), the St Petersburg Committee on Monuments Preservation and the State Hermitage Museum.

The monitors approved of the ongoing renovation in the Large Hall and the Jasper and Oval Cabinets, and of the work of the Tsarskoye Selo Amber Workshop restoring the pavilion’s doors, lamps, and unique 18th-century parquets of rosewood, ebony, boxwood, hornbeam, teak, amaranth, etc.

In April–June 2012, the Large Hall of the Agate Rooms had its marvelous stuccowork cleaned and fixed firmly, 60 painted fragments re-installed on the ceiling, the cultured marble facing carefully restored on the walls and in the niches (with the original finish and the post-war restoration inserts carefully preserved), 

Works in the Large Hall are scheduled for completion in the late September 2012. In the Jasper Cabinet, the stone inlays on the walls are yet to be restored, while the wooden domed ceiling’s reinforcement has been accomplished.

© Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve. 28 June, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:06 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 20 June 2012
The Romanovs Photography Studio at Tsarskoye Selo
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo


Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia and Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark on their wedding day in the Portrait Hall of the Catherine Palace. Photo by L. Gorodetsky, 1902. Photo © Tsarskoye Selo Palace Museum-Preserve. 

A unique exhibition opens today at the Upper Bathhouse of the Catherine Park in cooperation with the ROSPHOTO State Museum & Exhibition Centre, which tells how photography came to Tsarskoye Selo, how the tsar’s court influenced a fashion for photography, and how the Romanov family helped boost the quality of daguerreotypes and photographs in Russia.

After the first pewter-plate photograph was taken by Joseph Nicephore Niepce in 1826 and then his partner Louis-Jacques-Mande Daguerre invented a photographic process using silver on copper plate in 1839, the daguerreotype came to Russia during the reign of  Tsar Nicholas I and was called “writing with light”.

Photography became a favourite hobby of the Tsar’s family which, like any other, loved its life chronicled in pictures. The photographs of the “most august family” used for the press and postcards were taken by professionals, who wore awarded the title “Supplier to the Imperial Court and Photographer” after 8–10 years of flawless service.

During Alexander III’s reign, photography bloomed and competed with portrait painting. Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra, their children, Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna and Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich took photography lessons from professional “light-writers”. Particularly noteworthy in the current exhibit are a touching photograph of the little Tsarevich Alexei standing together with a guard near a snow-covered Alexander Palace and an album of photographs taken by Anna Vyrubova, Tsarina Alexandra’s lady-in-waiting and close friend.

In 1860 the architect Ippolito Monighetti built an addition to the Llama Pavilion in the Alexander Park, which was used by the Romanovs as a photography studio and laboratory. After the Tsar’s special permission of 1866, photographic ateliers opened in the town of Tsarskoye Selo: Mikhail Kozlovski’s on Konyushennaya St, the workshop of Wilhelm Lapré on Moskovskaya St, and the photographic studio “K.E. von Gann and Co” of Alexander Yagelsky on Shirokaya St.

Besides showing part of the museum’s exhaustive photographic collection, the exhibit gives visitors a chance to feel as if they are in a Tsarskoye Selo photographic studio of the past.

The Exhibition is open through September 30, 2012, from 11.00–19.00 (tickets until 18.00). Closed on Thursdays and Fridays. Admission for adults is 100 rubles.

© Tsarskoye Selo Palace Museum-Preserve. 20 June, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:15 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 20 June 2012 9:26 AM EDT
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