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400th Anniversary
A Russian Moment
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Amber Room
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Eagar, Margaretta
Ekaterinburg Remains
Elena Vladimirovna, GD
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Gibbes, Charles Sidney
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Konstantin Nikolayevich, GD
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Maria Pavlovna, Senior
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Mikhail Alexandrovich GD
Mikhail Nikolayevich, GD
Nevsky, Alexander
Nicholas Alexandrovich GD
Nicholas I
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Nicholas Mikhailovich, GD
Nicholas Nicholayevich, GD
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Oleg Konstantinovich, Prince
Olga Alexandrovna GD
Olga Konstantinovna GD
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Paley, Princess Natalia
Paul Alexandrovich, GD
Paul Gilbert
Paul I, Emperor
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Tauride Palace
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Tsesarevich Alexei
Vera Konstantinovna, Princess
Vladimir Alexandrovich, GD
Vyrubova, Anna
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Xenia Alexandrovna GD
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Tuesday, 22 January 2013
Derzhavin Palace Hosts Potemkin Evenings
Topic: 400th Anniversary


The Derzhavin Palace in St. Petersburg will host Potemkin Evenings in honour of the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty beginning on January 16th.

A total of 20 concerts will be offered over the next 6 months. Each concert will be dedicated to a member of the Romanov dynasty, including: Anna Ivanovna, Elizabeth Petrovna, Peter III, Catherine II,  Paul I, Maria Feodorovna, Alexander I, Elizabeth Alexeyevna. Plus, a special concert dedicated to Prince Potemkin of Tauride.

The concerts will feature the Soloists of Catherine the Great, under the direction of violinist Andrei Reshetin. Each concert will offer authentic historic music of Russia's past, including classical and Baroque works, as well as forgotten masterpieces of Russian music of the 18th and 19th centuries.

The first two concerts: Russian Quartets of the 18th Century (January 16th), and Home Baroque of the 18th Century (January 30th).

The Soloists of Catherine the Great was created by Andrei Reshetin in 2007, along with the choir Tauris. The group are named after the great musicians who served at the Court of Catherine the Great. 

Organizers point out the historical interiors of the palace will provide ambiance for guests to immerse themselves in the bygone era of 18th century St. Petersburg.

The former palace of the famous Russian poet, Gavriil Derzhavin is situated on the Fontanka Embankment in central St. Petersburg.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 22 January, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:39 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 22 January 2013 7:11 AM EST
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Kuskovo: The Grotto
Topic: Country Estates


Kuskovo, the mid-18th century retreat of the Sheremetyev family near Moscow, has the expected neoclassical palace, gardens and pond. But among the white columns and gilded parlors is a more unusual bit of architecture: a fantastical grotto inspired by Neptune’s underwater kingdom.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, lavishly decorated grottos were a popular feature at the estates of European elites. Among the most famous was the grotto at Ludwig II’s Linderhof in Bavaria, a watery den inspired by Wagner’s “Tannhäuser.”

German architect Fyodor Afgounov built Kuskovo’s grotto between 1756 and 1761. It lost some of its treasures when the French ransacked the estate during the War of 1812, but most of the pavilion survived intact. Today, it’s the only one of its kind left in Russia. Here’s a look at the seashells, seaweed, dragons and other curiosities inside.

1. Pavilion

The lavish Baroque structure is composed of a main room (meant to be Neptune’s throne room) and two side wings, with marble laid over the walls and floors. The grotto’s cool temperature made it an inviting place for guests to seek respite during the summer months. The green-and-gold iron grilles on the windows and doors, intended to look like seaweed, were made by serf artisans in the town of Pavlovo.

2. Cupola

The circular windows ringing the base of the cupola were once entirely open, which helped keep the temperature low. The pictures of whales and sea turtles that now cover them are remnants from a recent exhibition about sea creatures.

3. Walls

The fantastical flowers, birds and plants that ornament the grotto’s walls took 14 years to complete. To create them, artisan Johann Focht used seashells, moss, mother of pearl, glass shards and tuff (a rock made of volcanic ash). The seashells, which number 26 types in all, come from the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, the Sea of Japan and the Black Sea, as well as bodies of water outside Moscow.

4. Paintings

The central room holds three genre paintings that are heavily studded by shells; they depict a deer, a romantic meeting by a fountain and a comedic scene involving a noblewoman slaying a pheasant. Iron garden furniture next to the panels encouraged noble visitors to put up their feet.

5. Statues

Statues of Greek and Roman deities such as Juno once occupied the empty pedestals along the walls. Some statues fell prey to theft, while others have lost limbs. But a variety of sculptures remain to guard the grotto’s peripheries, including a dapper monkey in a hat and an armless noblewoman carrying a basket.

6. Creatures

A number of animal figures are hiding amidst the swirling shell patterns on the walls. In the room to the right, a pelican perches above a window, while a gaping white seahorse bobs by the main window of the room to the left. Look up: in both side rooms, dragons writhe on the ceiling.

© Moscow News. 22 January, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:54 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 22 January 2013 6:00 AM EST
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Monday, 21 January 2013
Faberge: A Brilliant Vision
Topic: Faberge


Simply hearing the name Fabergé evokes the splendor and extravagance of late 19th and early 20th century Imperial Russia. The House of Fabergé designed the renowned Imperial Easter Eggs for the Romanov family, as well as an array of objets d'art, luxurious gifts, and practical items for the wealthy patrons ofEurope.

Visitors can glimpse this grandeur in a special exhibition, Fabergé: A Brilliant Vision , from the McFerrin Collection and hear from more than half a dozen internationally-recognized experts, including Tatiana Fabergé, great-granddaughter of Carl Fabergé, during a special one-day symposium in advance, Jan. 31. The exhibition opens to the public Feb. 1.

Featuring more than 350 objects, highlights include two Fabergé eggs recently added to the collection-the breathtaking Diamond Trellis Imperial Egg and one of the celebrated Kelch Eggs. The exhibition also includes past favorites such as the famed Nobel Ice Egg, the dazzling Empress Josephine Tiara, and the ornate Fire Screen Frame, a gift from Tsar Nicholas II to his mother, Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna. New additions to the collection include several important Imperial presentation boxes and other objects d'lux.

The McFerrin Collection

In recent years, the McFerrin Collection has become one of the world's most significant private Fabergé collections. Tatiana Fabergé, calls it "one of those rare gems."

"The McFerrin Collection on extended loan will bring such pleasure to the many visitors, both young and old, who again will have the opportunity to dream and imagine the glory of the past," Fabergé said. "This will both educate and enrich the art experience of the American public and allow them to be captivated by the magic of the Fabergé genius so that they can perhaps understand just a little of what has drawn the McFerrins to create such an outstanding collection."

While many pieces in this collection have been featured individually in other exhibitions and publications over the past 60 years, the 2010 exhibition organized by HMNS, Fabergé: Imperial Jeweler to the Tsars marked the first time that the McFerrin Collection was presented to the public.

"We have had the distinct privilege of having ring side seats from which to watch one of the most important private Fabergé collections in the world being built, and then entrusted to our care," said Joel A. Bartsch, president of the Houston Museum of Natural Science. "We are very thankful to the McFerrins' for letting us continue to share these beautiful, masterful and important pieces-many for the first time ever-with the Museum and its 2.5 million annual visitors."

Fabergé Symposium

To celebrate the opening of the McFerrin Collection , the Houston Museum of Natural Science is hosting a Fabergé Symposium featuring leading experts from across the globe: Tatiana Fabergé, Switzerland; Tim Adams, USA; Alice Ilich, Australia; Galina Korneva, Russia; Christel McCanless, USA; Ulla Tillander-Godenhielm, Finland; and Annemiek Wintraecken, the Netherlands.

Full registration also includes specialized tours of the Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals and Smith Gem Vault, and a preview of the McFerrin Fabergé collection before it opens to the public. In addition to scholarly lectures and an advance preview of the exhibition, attendees can observe demonstrations of gem-cutting and metalsmithing techniques employed by Fabergé craftsmen. Following the presentations, The McFerrins will give a short presentation about their collecting adventure. Breakfast and lunch are included in the Symposium ticket. Tickets are based on availability.

© Houston Museum of Natural Science. 21 January, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:07 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 21 January 2013 1:12 PM EST
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Sunday, 20 January 2013
Sovereign Emperor Nicholas II - Historic Newsreels 1896-1916
Now Playing: Duration: 22 minutes

This video is a compilation of historic newsreels dating from the years 1896 to 1916. It is divided into five parts and includes events during the reign of Emperor Nicholas II and his family;

(1) Coronation of Emperor Nicholas II on 14th May, 1896 at Moscow.

(2) Dedication of the Monument to Emperor Alexander III on 30th May, 1912 at Christ the Saviour Cathedral, Moscow.

(3) 300th Anniversary of the House of Romanov, May 1913, Moscow.

(4) Sovereign Emperor Nicholas II, the early years of World War I.

(5) Crowned Family

My personal favourite newsreels include the children of Nicholas II participating in the White Flower Day at Livadia, and film footage of the Tsesarevich Alexei sitting next to Baron Fredericks in an automobile. The young Tsesarevich turns to face the camera and offers history an enigmatic smile.

The entire video is without narration, however, it is accompanied by haunting music from the Tsarist era, including God Save the Tsar.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 20 January, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:09 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 21 January 2013 9:24 AM EST
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Saturday, 19 January 2013
Former Imperial Train Station Destroyed by Fire
Topic: Alexander III


Firefighters were unable to save the historic building 

A recently restored railway station in Lappeenranta, Finland, originally built to serve Tsar Alexander III, was devastated by a blaze early Saturday morning. 

Emergency services received a report of a fire in the old wooden building just before 1 AM. Upon arrival firefighters found the structure engulfed in flames.

There were no injuries.


Tsar Alexander III arriving at Lappeenranta in 1885 

Known as the "Imperial" station, the building was completed in 1885, when Finland was a Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire. It was first used by Tsar Alexander III during a visit to a military camp in Lappeenranta. Restoration work had been recently completed on the building. It was to be reopened to the public, housing a cafe and souvenir shops.

© YLE News. 19 January, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:03 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 20 January 2013 5:43 AM EST
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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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