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Monday, 4 May 2015
Official Visits to the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral, Late 19th - Early 20th Centuries
Topic: Peter and Paul Fortress

The Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg is one of the greatest monuments of Petrine epoch and the burial place of the Romanov dynasty. During the late 18th and 19th centuries many members of the ruling dynasty were buried here - first of all, the Russian Emperors and Empresses, except for Peter II (buried in Moscow) and Ioann IV (buried in Schlusselburg or Tikhvin). Burial and memorial services for the deceased members of the Imperial family held a high position in the religious life of the cathedral. By the end of the 19th century it was impossible to make new burials in the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral. Therefore, the Grand Ducal Burial Chapel (Mausoleum) was built next to the cathedral for burials of the uncrowned members of Imperial family (grand dukes and grand duchesses). The chapel was constructed between 1896-1908, by the architects David Grimm, Anton Tomishko, and Larry Benois.

Delegations from cities, regiments, governmental institutions and social organizations attended requiem services at the cathedral on the dates of the Emperors and Empresses birthdays, name days and deaths, as well as liturgies on days of religious holidays and solemn services related to events of national importance, such as military victories, conclusion of peace treaties, etc. In the late 18th - early 19th centuries it became tradition for foreign delegations to visit the necropolis of the Russian Imperial House. Over time visits to the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral became an integral part of the program of all state visits to St. Petersburg. On special occasions fireworks were set off from the walls of the fortress to honour the foreign guests and the garrison formed an honour guard leading from the main gate to the cathedral in a greeting gesture. After 1908, visits to the Grand Ducal Burial Chapel also became part of the ceremony. Then the guests visited the Boat House in order to see the legendary boat of Peter I prior to departing the Peter and Paul Fortress.


Visits of foreign royalty, presidents, government and military delegations were widely covered by the press and the development of photography allowed the best studios of St. Petersburg to make candid shots of these events. The subjects of the photographs are of great historical significance as the only evidence of the events. Some of the distinguished guests included Presidents Emile Loubet (1902) and Raymond Poincare (1914) of France, Crown Prince Wilhelm of Germany (1888), King Gustav V of Sweden (1908), King Karl I of Roumania (1898), King Peter I of Serbia (1910), Prince Tsai-Tao of China (1910), Princes Fushimo (1910), Kuni Kuniyoshi (1910), and Kotohito Kanin (1916) of Japan (1910), Prince Chakrabongse of Siam (1911), King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy (1902), Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm and Crown Princess Cecilie (1911), Prince Arthur of Connaught (1911), Emir of Bukhara Said Alim-khan (1911, 1913), King Nikola I of Montenegro (1912), King Friedrich August of Saxony (1914) among many others.

In April 2013, the Grand Ducal Burial Chapel of the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral hosted a small exhibit dedicated to the history of the official visits which included vintage photographs of these visits. The State Museum of the History of St. Petersburg produced a handsome 112-page album containing many of the photographs from the exhibit. The album Deigned to Visit . . . State Visits to SS Peter and Paul Cathedral includes photographs from the photo studio of Karl Bulla, K.E. von Gan and Co., and from amateur photographers Alexander Nasvetevich, and Vasily Sabaneyev taken in 1888-1916. The album is a joint project between the Central State Archive of Cinema, Photographic and Phonographic Documents from the St. Petersburg and the State Museum of History of St. Petersburg. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 04 May, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:38 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 6 May 2015 6:50 PM EDT
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Saturday, 1 February 2014
Requiem for Murdered Grand Dukes Held in St. Petersburg
Topic: Peter and Paul Fortress

January 30th marked the 95th anniversary of the murders of the Grand Dukes Paul Alexandrovich, Dmitry Konstantinovich, and brothers Nicholas and George Mikhailovich at the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg. Last Thursday, about 100 monarchists and Orthodox faithful gathered at the Peter and Paul Cathedral where a requiem was held for the four grand dukes. The requiem was led by Archimandrite Alexander Fedorov, and assisted by the rector of the Leushinsky Monastery in St. Petersburg Archpriest Gennady Belovolov. 

The grand dukes were among 17 members of the Romanov family murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918-19, the last four taking place in St. Petersburg. The Peter and Paul Fortress, which was built by Peter the Great to protect the capital of Russia, became the place of execution of four Romanov grand dukes. They were shot together, along with other citizens of St. Petersburg, an act of revenge by the new government for the death of two revolutionaries in Germany, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. 

In 1981, the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad glorified the new martyrs and confessors of all members of the House of Romanov, murdered in 1918-19. This honour, however, was denied Grand Duke Nicholas Mikhailovich, the reason being that the grand duke had been "a socialist, an atheist, and a Mason."
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 01 February, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:34 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 4 February 2014 9:20 AM EST
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Wednesday, 30 October 2013
Monument to Murdered Grand Dukes at Peter and Paul Cathedral
Topic: Peter and Paul Fortress

A memorial plaque in memory of the four Romanov grand dukes murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1919 can be found in the Grand-Ducal Mausoleum of the Peter and Paul Fortress at St. Petersburg. It was erected and sanctified on January 30, 2004, in the presence of Dmitry Romanovich Romanov, great-great-grandson of Emperor Nicholas I.

Gold letters on a white Carrara marble inscribed the words:
"Eternal memory, the most worthy representatives of the Russian Imperial House, innocent victims in January 1919 in the Peter and Paul Fortress. The names of the martyrs - Orthodox Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich, Orthodox Grand Duke Dmitry Konstantinovich, Orthodox Grand Duke Nikolai Mikhailovich, Orthodox Grand Duke Georgy Mikhailovich. "

A Decree of the Presidium of the Cheka, ordered the grand dukes to be sentenced to death. The sentence was carried out on January 24, 1919 in a yard of the Peter and Paul Fortress. Their bodies were thrown into an unmarked mass grave. In December 2009, a grave was discovered containing the remains of 17 people, plus bullets, shells, gold jewellery, shoes and fragments of clothing. In September 2013, I reported that the State Museum of St. Petersburg ordered further excavations of the fortress, with hopes to to receive further funding to assist with the identification of the remains, including costly DNA analysis.  
I have been following this discovery since 2009, and have posted numerous articles on the subject in both Royal Russia News and my blog. To review them, please refer to the following links: 
 © Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 30 October, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:05 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 30 October 2013 6:53 AM EDT
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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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Sunday, 13 May 2012
Peter and Paul Cathedral in Petersburg to be Restored
Topic: Peter and Paul Fortress


The Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg is to be restored.

The Culture Ministry of the Russian Federation has announced the competition for the right of carrying out repair and restoration works on the cultural heritage site. The corresponding announcement is placed on the official site of state orders of the Russian Federation.
According to the specification, the task of the winner will include restoration of facades of the cathedral and the bell tower, as well as repair of the roof and reconstruction of the paving of porticoes. All the planned renovations are expected to be finished before November, 2012.

The Peter and Paul Cathedral is one of the main buildings of the ensemble of the Peter and Paul Fortress. The cathedral was constructed according to the project and under the direction of architect Domenico Trezini. Construction of the unique monument took 20 years to complete - from 1712 to 1732. The Peter and Paul Cathedral is the sepulchre of the Russian emperors and empresses.


© 13 May, 2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:07 PM EDT
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