Tsarskoye Selo commemorates the forthcoming 400th anniversary of the House of Romanov, which is to be celebrated next year, with a new project observing the birth dates of the former crowned masters and mistresses of the imperial residence.
The project starts out as the 303rd anniversary of Empress Elizabeth Petrovna is approaching on December 29th (18th Old Style). The event is marked with an eighteenth-century styled floral composition set out in the Third Antechamber of the Catherine Palace.
The composition consists of plants that grew in the Tsarskoye Selo greenhouses in the mid-eighteenth century: tuberose, pelargonium, narcissus, lily, rose, carnation, wild orange, lemon, plum, moluccella and laurel. In accordance with eighteenth-century taste, the bouquet is also decorated with fruits.
Next to it stands an easel holding the portrait of Empress Elizabeth by the Italian painter Pietro Antonio Rotari, depicting the daughter of Peter the Great as the first beauty of her time. Her reign is called the Golden Age of Tsarskoye Selo.
Crosses Return to Historic Tsarskoye Selo Church Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
Pre-revolutionary photos of the Church of Saint Julian of Tarsus, and its magnificent stained-glass iconostasis
All of the nine crosses of the Church of Saint Julian of Tarsus at Tsarskoye Selo were restored to their original places on December 25th. Before the Revolution, the building served as regiment church of the His Imperial Majesty’s Life Guard Cuirassier’s.
A prayer service for the installation of the crosses began at 11:30 am, continuing throughout the day with winter weather conditions causing numerous delays.
The nine crosses were manufactured by Remfasad, a Russian firm based in St. Petersburg that specializes in the restoration of historical and cultural monuments.
The regiment church was built to the design of the architect V.N. Kuritsin at the corner of Kadetsky Boulevard and Kirasirskaya (Cuirassier) Street in 1896-1899. The interior decoration was created by the architect S.A. Danini.
Funding for the construction was provided by the commerce councillor, I.K. Savinkov in the style of Old Russian churches in the honour of the wedding of Their Emperor Majesties Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna.
The consecration of the upper temple of St Julian of Tarsus took place on 19 December 1899. The temple was sanctified by the arch-presbyter of the military clergy Fr. A. Zhelobovsky jointly with the arch-presbyter Fr. John (Sergiev) of Kronstadt and representatives of the Tsarskoye Selo clergy and in the presence of Their Emperor Majesties and other members of the Imperial family.
In the upper side-chapel there was an interesting stained-glass iconostasis made of multicoloured solder glass with mosaic icons surrounded by ornamental pattern. Icons was created in Munich on the base of cardboards of the professor N. Koshelev, who also painted two huge picture “The Wedding in Kanna of Galilee” and “The Miracle of St. Julian of Tarsus” on walls of the middle part of the temple. In the lower temple there was a stylish marble iconostasis and marble gravestones of Savinkov and his wife. Icons and fresco were painted by the artist Volkov.
In 1930, the crosses and Imperial eagles were removed and the church was used for storage.
The church has been undergoing a lengthy restoration since the building was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church in 1992. The building had been left in a deplorable state. Tons of garbage left by its previous caretaker had to be removed first. Restorers then set to work repairing dilapidated walls, crumbling stone floors and stairs. In 2010, the church dome had been restored.
Despite ongoing restoration work, services are being held every Sunday. Prayers are said for the Martyr Saint Julian of Tarsus and the fallen soldiers of H.I.M. Life Guard Cuirassier Regiment. There are plans to open a museum in the lower church which will be dedicated to the regiment’s history.
Painting from Collection of Nicholas I Returns to Tsarskoye Selo Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
The Crimean Tatar Squadron officers of Life Guards Cossack Regiment(left) by Carl Friedrich Schulz (1796-1866), donated to the Museum by the Moscow collectors Sergei and Tatiana Podstanitsky on 25th December 2012, is one of the over forty battle pieces which Emperor Nicholas I commissioned from the German artist for Tsarskoye Selo.
The oil on canvas painting of 1850 is Schulz’s eighteenth (of the 40) work in the Museum by now. It first hung in Nicholas I’s study at the Alexander Palace and then moved to the Dressing Room of Grand Duke Alelxander Nikolayevich (later Emperor Alexander II) at the Catherine Palace, where it can be seen depicted in a 19th-century watercolour by Eduard Hau.
Registered in the palace inventory of 1938–40, the painting was soon looted by the Nazis together with other non-evacuated artworks. In 2006 it was included into Russia’s Summary Catalogue of the Cultural Valuables Stolen and Lost During World War II, published by the Ministry of Culture’s project Cultural Values - Victims of War.
The collectors purchased the painting at a German auction in 2008 from the owners who knew nothing of its real provenance. It is the third piece Sergei and Tatiana Podstanitsky bring back to the Tsarskoye Selo collection. Thanks to them, Ludwig Elsholtz's Prussian Hussars (1840) and Wilhelm Alexander Meyerheim’s Prussian Cuirassiers (1830s-1840s) returned to the Museum in 2011. The paintings, which are to be reinstalled in the Catherine Palace after the restoration of Alexander I’s rooms, will be on display at Moscow’s State Central Museum of Contemporary History of Russia in 2013.
A Russian Moment No. 2 - Livadia Palace Topic: A Russian Moment
A rare snowfall blankets the Livadia Palace in the Crimea. The Russian Imperial family along with members of Russia's aristocratic and noble families favoured the region for its Mediterranean climate and stunning natural beauty. It was here that they built beautiful palaces and elegant mansions overlooking the Black Sea. When the Revolution swept across Russia, it was the isolation of the region that allowed many of them to escape the advancing Red Terror into exile.
Grand Duke Georgii of Russia Attends Reburial of King Zog I of Albania Topic: Russian Imperial House
H.I.H. Grand Duke Georgii pays his respects at the coffin of King Zog I of Albania at Tirana on November 17th, 2012
H.I.H. the Heir, Tsesarevich, and Grand Duke Georgii of Russia, at the behest of his most august mother, the Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, who was at that time on an official visit to Russia, attended the reburial of the remains of King Zog I of Albania in the capital city of Tirana. The King had been previously been buried in Paris. His Imperial Highness was accompanied by Cyrille Boulay, an advisor on international relations to the Head of Russian Imperial House.
The coffin bearing King Zog I’s body was placed in the Presidential Palace, where official, ambassadors, foreign guests, and ordinary citizens of Albania were afforded the opportunity to pay their last respects. Around noon, a procession on foot accompanying the King’s coffin set out from the Presidential Palace to the Royal Mausoleum, led by the grandson of the late King—the present Head of the Royal House of Albania, Prince Leka II, his fiancée Elia Zaharia, and several other members of the Albanian Royal Family. Among those in the procession were the Head of the Montenegrin Royal House, H.R.H. Prince Nicholas; H.I.H., the Heir, Tsesarevich, and Grand Duke Georgii of Russia; the son-in-law of the King Michael of Romania, H.R.H. Prince Radu; and numerous foreign diplomats. The President of Albania, Bujar Nishani, and the President of Kosovo, Atifete Jahjaga, both spoke at the royal burial site. Afterward there was a memorial meal; and that evening, there was a formal reception in the Presidential Palace in memory of King Zog I.
King Zog I (1895-1961) ruled Albania from 1928. He had numerous accomplishments in the domestic and foreign policy of the young nation, but in 1939 was forced to flee his country because of the invasion of the Italian fascists. After the Second World War, a totalitarian, atheistic communist regime was established in Albania under Enver Hoxha, and in 1967 Albania was declared the “first fully atheistic country” in the world.
King Zog I died in Paris and was buried there. He was succeeded as King (in exile) by Leka I (1939-2011), his son from his marriage with Queen Geraldine (born the Hungarian Countess Géraldine Apponyi de Nagyappony). In 1976, King Leka I attended the marriage in Madrid of the parents of H.I.H. the Heir, Tsesarevich, and Grand Duke Georgii of Russia—H.I.H. Grand Duchess Maria of Russia and H.I.H. Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich (Prince Franz Wilhelm of Prussia). The present Head of the Royal House of Albania is the son of King Leka I and his wife, Queen Susan, H.R.H. Prince Leka II (born in 1982).
The Last Ball - A Documentary Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 40 minutes, 58 seconds
A new documentary by Russian film maker Boris Liznov recalls the costume ball held in the Winter Palace in February 1903. The film is based on old photographs of members of the Imperial family and the Russian Court who attended the event in which guests dressed in luxurious costumes dating from the 17th-century court of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich. It was to be the last grand ball before the fall of the monarchy in Russia in 1917.
Liznov has assembled more than 250 vintage images from various museums, and expertly assembled old photos of interiors of the Winter Palace as a backdrop. Narration of the ball is described in detail from the memoirs and letters of those who attended the historic ball.
Liznov further explores the reign of Nicholas II and the end of the dynasty that ruled Russia for more than 300 years. The film has already received 7 awards including Best Director and Best Cinematography.
Grand Duke Nicholas Alexandrovich Monument Unveiled in Nice Topic: Nicholas Alexandrovich GD
A monument to the Tsesarevich and Grand Duke Nicholas Alexandrovich (1843-1865) has been unveiled in Nice, France.
The ceremony coincided with the 100th anniversary of Saint Nicholas Cathedral, consecrated in 1912 in memory of Emperor Alexander II's son who died at Nice on 24th April, 1865.
The monument was installed next to the cathedral, and consecrated by Metropolitan of Ryazan. The church choir sang hymns proclaiming the eternal memory of the Tsearevich Nicholas Alexandrovich.
The city of Nice has long honoured Nicholas Alexandrovich's memory: three years after his death, the Villa Bermond (where he died) was demolished to make way for a memorial chapel, and the adjacent street was renamed Boulevard Tsarevich. In 1896, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna and her son, Emperor Nicholas II organized the construction of a new cathedral, which was completed in 1912. The construction of the cathedral was financed from the private purse of the last tsar. To date, Saint Nicholas Cathedral is the largest Russian Orthodox church in Europe.
Russians Invited to Buy Back or Rent Their Old Family Estates Topic: Country Estates
Khvalevskoye, former estate of Nikolai Kachalov
The Russian culture minister Vladimir Medinsky has begun a campaign to auction pre-revolutionary estates and mansions to save them from potential ruin. He said that architectural monuments in the worst condition would be a priority and would be offered for long-term rent or even sale to those who can demonstrate that they are committed to restoration.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia rejected the idea of property restitution to descendants of the noble families and wealthy merchants who owned such homes before the Bolshevik Revolution.
Medinsky said that the government had failed to follow through on previous plans to manage the properties and that the situation had reached a crisis point.
“There are 150,000 [architectural] monuments in the country,” said the minister according to the RIA Novosti state news agency. “Some of them are in private hands, a majority are in state hands and even more are in a state of ruin. About ten years ago there were instructions to hand over about 2,500 monuments to the monuments administration agency. [But] the government’s instruction was not carried out. Two hundred and forty-one monuments were handed over. The monuments are in [a] horrific condition.”
Medinsky said that the ministry had already proposed that Rosimushchestvo, the state property agency, auction the right to rent those sites that are in good condition at market rates, on the condition that they are properly maintained. Sites that are in a ruined state would be leased at a peppercorn rate. Olga Dergunova, Russia’s deputy economic development minister and the head of Rosimushchestvo, said firm plans were yet to be put in place, however.
Many of Russia’s historic properties were allowed to crumble in the post-Soviet bureaucracy of the 1990s and 2000s to make way for more lucrative residential and commercial buildings.
The city of Moscow is now actively employing the new scheme to auction monuments, which has already resulted in some positive examples of restoration. But in the regions the situation is more complicated for preservationists and potentially easier for those who want to purchase outright a monument.
Yevgeny Sosedov, the deputy chairman of the Moscow region branch of the All-Russian Society for the Preservation of Historical and Cultural Monuments, is leading activists in a fight to save Arkhangelskoye, the Yusupov family estate, famous for its palace, grounds and art collection. Since the 1990s, a state museum has shared the grounds with the ministry of defence, which runs a convalescent hospital there. It is ironic, Sosedov said, that estates that survived the Revolution have suffered greater damage in the post-Soviet era because in Soviet times they were, at least, in use as pioneer camps, sanatoriums or collective farms. Local officials, he said, are not interested in dealing with the smalls sums of money needed to conserve estates that have fallen into ruin. “Everyone is waiting for big money,” he said.
Some of the descendants of the pre-revolutionary elite have bought back family properties. Yury Voicehovsky-Kachaloff and his wife, Vera, spent around $100,000 to buy the remains of the mansion and grounds of Khvalevskoye, an estate in the Vologda region, which was used as a government office and school in the Soviet era. Vera Voicehovsky-Kachaloff is a descendant of Nikolai Kachalov, an official who was close to the future Tsar Alexander III. The family rediscovered the estate after being sought out and invited to the local village’s anniversary celebration in 2006. The cost at auction was high, said her husband, because a local hunting organisation was eager to purchase the territory to develop as a hunting grounds.
It cost the Voicehovsky-Kachaloffs around ten times more to restore the mansion. Financiers now based in Moscow who spent ten years living in London, they were inspired by the UK's National Trust. They plan turn the mansion into a local museum, cultural centre, Sunday school, a base for their family gatherings, and possibly as a small hotel for those interested in the culture and lifestyle of pre-revolutionary estates.
Kremlin Visitors Can See the Restored Kutafya Tower Again Topic: Kremlin
Kremlin visitors will see the restored Kutafya Tower, which is almost 500 years old. After the completion of the year-long renovation work, the passage through the tower to the Kremlin will be opened, ITAR-TASS reports.
The site, one of the main entrances to the Kremlin, was renovated "at repeated requests" of visitors, the chief Kremlin manager's press secretary Viktor Khrekov told ITAR-TASS. Visitors complained that they had to wait sometimes for hours in any weather to pass through checkpoints to go on an excursion or for a Kremlin Palace concert. Now, it will take less time and will be more comfortable, Khrekov assured.
The major repair with the modernization of the checkpoint at the Kutafya Tower was carried out by the Kremlin management and the Federal Guard Service. Before the repair, seven check points were opened to enter the Moscow Kremlin. There are 16 now, and all are in buildings with heating, ventilation and other appropriate systems.
According to specialists, up to 6,000 people can pass through the new check points in an hour and a half, for example to go to the State Kremlin Palace. The Federal Guard Service says that the examination procedure is improved. There is everything necessary for people with disabilities for comfortable visits to the Kremlin, Khrekov noted.
The Kutafya Tower was built by Milan architect Aleviz (Aliosio) Fryazin in 1516. Its height is 13.5 m at present. It was surrounded by a ditch and the Neglinka River with one gate, which was closed tightly with a drawbridge. The tower prevented intruders from entering. In 1685, the tower was decorated with the white stone openwork "crown".