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Saturday, 10 December 2016
Historic Church of the Ascension to be Reconstructed in Livadia
Topic: Crimea

Artist drawing of the Church of the Ascension in the village of Livadia in Crimea
This article was researched from Russian media sources and written by Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia © 2016

On December 6th, the Yalta city administration held a presentation for the reconstruction of the Church of the Ascension in Livadia. The presentation was attended by the head of Yalta city administration Andrei Rostenko, the chairman of Yalta City Council Roman Derkach, rector of the Holy Cross Church, Archpriest Dmitry Gotskalyuk, among officials of the Yalta City Council, and representatives of numerous public organizations.

The Church of the Ascension was originally situated on Ulitsa Sevastopol, at the entrance to the village of Livadia. The reconstruction project was implemented on the initiative of the Church of the Exaltation of the Cross in Livadia, with the blessing of His Eminence Lazarus, Metropolitan of Simferopol and Crimea. 

The construction of the new church will be a re-creation of the original church which existed until 1929 in Livadia. The church was constructed in 1872-1876, on the initiative of the Empress Maria Alexandrovna (1824-1880), the wife of Emperor Alexander II. The church was open to all parishioners who lived on the estate of Livadia.

Original drawings of the church have been preserved to this day in the Russian archives
Built by architect Alphonse Gektorovich Vincent (1844-1888), the Byzantine-style church was made from white Inkerman stone, with a zinc dome and a gilt cross. A graceful belfry with six bells over the door, looked very impressive. The interiors frescoes were painted by well-known artists of the day, including K.E. Kerem, R. Izella, M.P. Klodt and M.N. Vasiliev.

The Church of the Ascension remained standing until it was badly damaged by an earthquake in 1927. The church stood closed for two years, before it was dismantled in 1929. Remnants of the church made of Carrara marble have been preserved to this day in the palace church in Livadia.

The construction of the church is planned to start in early 2017, after the completion of all necessary design works. Father Dmitry noted that the church will be constructed as a memorial church in memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs, and is scheduled for complete by July 2018, marking the 100th anniversary of the tragic deaths of Emperor Nicholas II and his family.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 10 December, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:40 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 13 December 2016 6:42 AM EST
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Thursday, 13 October 2016
Exhibition: Crimea in the History of Russia Opens in Moscow
Topic: Crimea

This article has been revised and edited from its original by Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia © 2016

A new exhibition Crimea in the History of Russia, opened on 11th October 2016 in the exhibition hall of the Federal Archives in Moscow. The exposition covers the major chronological period, beginning from the baptism of Prince Vladimir in ancient Chersoneses to the present day, and highlights the special place of the Crimean peninsula in Russia's history.

The exhibition presents documentary evidence about the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and the Crimean Khanate in the 15th century when Khan Mengli Girey sent Grand Prince Ivan III Vasilievich his (oath) instrument of fraternal friendship and love. Visitors will be able to see rare historical documents: international treaties, state lists of Russian ambassadors, as well as documents on the war against Russian troops by the Crimean Khan during the Crimean campaign of 1689, an authentic marching magazine of B. H. Minich and plans for fighting in the Crimea during the Russian-Turkish war of 1735-1739.

The exhibition includes original documents of the 18th century on the proclamation of the independence of the Crimea from the Ottoman Empire, uniting Crimea to Russia in 1783, its economic development, the creation of new towns and the Black Sea Fleet base at Sevastopol. Of particular interest is the correspondence of Empress Catherine II, G. A. Potemkin, and the Crimean Khan Shahin Girey, rescripts by the Empress on the compliance of faith of Crimean residents, tax collection and their use for the development of the region, restoration of Tatar Murza and princes and maintaining their feudal rights, old maps of Crimea and Sevastopol.

Economic and industrial development of the Crimea in 19th - early 20th centuries illustrate documents and graphic materials on the establishment of the post and ferry services, construction of the first highway, the first draft of the Kerch bridge, distribution of wine and the use of medicinal properties of the natural peninsula. The exhibit also presents archival documents and museum items covering the key stages of the Crimean War (1853-1856) and defence of Sevastopol.

Events of the Civil War (1917-1923) are reflected in unique leaflets, legislation, letters and telegrams, including a telegram from the Provisional Workers and Peasants Government of the Crimea of 9th �€‹ï¿½€‹May 1919 to the People's Commissars of Lenin on the establishment of Soviet power and the creation of the Crimean Soviet Socialist Republic, and the first constitution of 1921, according to which the peninsula became an autonomous region of the RSFSR.

The fate of the Crimea during the Great Patriotic War and in the early postwar years is introduced in original photos, the decision of the State Defence Committee, the Military Councils of armies and of the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR. Documents of party bodies, including declassified, illustrate the circumstances of deportation Tartars, Greeks, Armenians, Bulgarians, Germans, Italians, nationals of other countries in 1944, as well as the process of their rehabilitation and return. The exhibition includes historical documents about the political and administrative ownership of the Crimea in the post-war period: the Decree of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR dated 30th June 1945 to transform the republic into the Crimean region of the RSFSR, as well as the most important decrees on the allocation of Sevastopol as a separate administrative and economic center (1948), the transfer of the Crimean region of the RSFSR to the Ukrainian SSR (1954).

The end of 20th - beginning of 31st centuries is reflected with archival documents, leaflets, photographs, evidence of the complex twists and turns in the life of the Crimean people, the self-determination of the Crimean people, culminating in the entry of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol to the Russian Federation.

The exhibition Crimea in the History of Russia runs from 11 October to 13 December 2016, in the exhibition hall of the Federal Archives in Moscow.

© Presidential Library / Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 13 October, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:50 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 13 October 2016 7:58 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 19 April 2016
On This Day: Manifesto on Accession of Crimea Peninsula to the Russian Empire Adopted
Topic: Crimea

Note: this article has been edited and updated from its original by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia

On April 19 (O.S. 8 April), 1783 the Empress Catherine II signed the Manifesto on the annexation to the Russian state of the Crimea peninsula and creation of the Taurida region, to be governed by Prince Grigori A. Potyomkin who was conferred the title of Taurida for his service. The Manifesto was a logical result of the century long struggle of Russia in order to return its primordial lands and secure access to the Black Sea.

After the victories of Field Marshal General, Count P. A. Rumyantsev-Zadunaisky during the second Russo-Turkish War of 1768-1774, Russia and Turkey concluded the Treaty of Kucuk Kaynarca. Under the Treaty Russia received the territory between the Bug and Dnepr rivers as well as the Kerch, Enikale and Kinburn fortresses. Russia managed to obtain access to the Black Sea and confirm its rights for the territory of Kabarda, Azov and the nearby lands conquered by Emperor Peter I. The Crimea Khanate separated itself from the Ottoman Empire and declared its independence. However Turkey having acknowledged its independence was preparing for a new struggle for these territories.

The Empress charged G. A. Potyomkin with the task of providing security of the Russian southern borders and developing the newly acquired lands. At the end of 1782 Potyomkin, considering the advantages of Crimea annexation to Russia, wrote to Catherine II: ‘The position of Crimea interferes into our borders… You must raise the glory of Russia… Crimea acquisition cannot strengthen You or enrich but will give You peace and calm’. Soon after that Catherine II issued the Manifesto on Crimea annexation. The document promised to the Crimea citizens to ‘treat them as well as our innate subjects, defend and protect their personality, property, cathedrals and inborn faith…’.

After the Russian administration settlement in Crimea  in 1783 the slave trade was abolished and the state government of the European type started to develop. The government moved here the state peasants from the central and Ukrainian lands. Gradually large landed properties concentrated in the North-Western Crimea. G. A. Potyomkin sent for the English and French specialists for the development of gardens and parks. He himself wrote a special instruction for Agriculture and Housekeeping Office in Crimea. Basing on the ‘Decree on provinces’ of 1775 G. A. Potyomkin created a specific system of management with involvement of local multiethnic population which contributed to the implementing the government policy on the settlement and economic development of Crimea peninsula.

Crimea annexation to Russia had a great progressive importance: economy, culture and trade started to develop promptly, the great massif of rich Crimea territories. During a short period of time new ports and cities in the territories along the Black Sea began to appear. The Russian Navy asserted itself in the Black Sea by establishing its principal base in the city of Sevastopol.

© Presidential Library / Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 19 April, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:53 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 19 April 2016 6:57 AM EDT
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Friday, 17 April 2015
1.4 Billion Rubles Allocated for Restoration of Crimean Palaces
Topic: Crimea

The Prime Minister of the Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov announced this week that the region will receive 1.4 billion rubles from the Finance Ministry of the Russian Federation for the restoration of palace-museums, many of which are symbols of Russian and Romanov history.

Before the Revolution, the Crimea was a popular destination for representatives of the Russian Imperial family, as well as aristocratic families - Vorontsov, Yusupov, Golitsyn - many of whom built luxurious palaces, villas and park ensembles. Currently, these palaces and parks are museums and is under the patronage of the state. 

Crimean authorities expect to receive funds in 2015 from the federal budget for restoration of the palaces at Livadia, Vorontsov at Alupka and the Khan's Palace, Bakhchisaray. It is necessary to bring the palace-museums up to proper standards so that local and foreign visitors can enjoy their architectural beauty, their respective collections and learn from their history. 

Livadia Palace - the former residence of Emperor Nicholas II and his family. The palace was constructed between 1909-1911 near Yalta on the shores of the Black Sea. The grand white limestone palace consists of 116 rooms, and the adjoining Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, built in 1860 and preserved to this day. In 1945, the palace became the venue of the Yalta Conference.

Vorontsov Palace is situated in Alupka at the foot of Mount Ai-Petri. The palace was built between 1828 and 1848  in the English Renaissance revival style as a summer residence for Prince Mikhail Semyonovich Vorontsov at a cost of 9,000,000 silver rubles. It is one of the oldest and largest palaces in Crimea, and is one of the most popular tourist attractions on Crimea's southern coast.

Khan's Palace, Bakhchisaray - built in the 16th century by Ottoman, Persian and Italian architects, it became home to a succession of Crimean Khans. The walled enclosure contains a mosque, a harem, a cemetery, living quarters and gardens. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 17 April, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:05 AM EDT
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Thursday, 3 April 2014
Battles Loom Over Crimea's Cultural Heritage
Topic: Crimea

The beautiful Livadia Palace is among the cultural landmarks that have become a source of bitter contention since Russia annexed the Crimea from Ukraine
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the April 2nd, 2014 edition of The Thomson Reuters Foundation. The author Gabriela Baczynska, owns the copyright of the article presented below.

From the 16th-century Tatar Khans' palace in Bakhchisaray to the former tsarist residence that hosted the World War Two Yalta conference, Crimea's heritage sites have become a source of bitter contention since Russia seized the region from Ukraine.

For Kiev, which does not recognize Moscow's annexation of Crimea, losing the cultural and historic legacy of the Black Sea peninsula would be another major blow and Ukraine is readying for long legal battles with Russia.

"We will never give up the valuable heritage in Crimea because that is the property of Ukraine," the country's Prosecutor General, Oleh Makhnitsky, told Reuters on Wednesday.

Ukraine's Culture Minister, Yevgen Nishchuk, said Kiev was amending its laws to seek justice internationally should Russia start removing cultural goods from Crimea or take over formal supervision of the region's heritage sites.

One exhibition, put together by five museums - including four in Crimea - and currently on display in Amsterdam, has already fallen hostage to the conflict over the region, the worst stand-off between Russia and the West since the Cold War.

Both Crimea's pro-Russian authorities as well as Kiev claim ownership of the exhibition, titled "Crimea - Gold and secrets of the Black Sea", which features golden artefacts and precious gems dating back to the fourth century BC.

The show is operated by the University of Amsterdam and spokesman Yasha Lange said a legal investigation was going on to determine to whom the collection should be returned after it closes at the end of August.

"The exhibition should return to Crimea," said Valentina Mordvintseva, who works for Ukraine's National Academy of Sciences in Crimea's provincial capital of Simferopol and who helped Amsterdam's Allard Pierson Museum set up the exhibit.

"So it has become a political issue," she told Reuters. "If the things end up held in Kiev, I think it would be bad for Ukraine itself because it would look like vengeance."

She was referring to a March 16 referendum in Crimea, an impoverished region of two million with a narrow ethnic Russian majority, which yielded an overwhelming victory for those advocating a split from Ukraine to join Russia.

Kiev and the West dismissed the hastily arranged vote as a sham but Moscow used it to justify formally incorporating Crimea on March 21.

Crimea has since then introduced the Russian rouble as its currency and switched to Moscow time, while Russian troops have taken over Ukrainian military bases, forcing Kiev to pull out its soldiers with their families.


Prosecutor Makhnitsky said the Justice Ministry in Kiev was preparing to register lawsuits with international organisations to assert its rights to the historic and cultural sites in Crimea.

The ministry refused immediate comment on what exactly it plans to do, but any such endeavor is likely to be an uphill battle as Russia controls the region.

Underscoring how any efforts from Kiev could face further obstacles, some directors of Crimea museums have welcomed unification with Russia in the hope it will lead to increased budget support from Moscow.

Valery Naumenko, director of a museum housed in the historic residence of the Crimean Khans in Bakhchisaray, complained that Kiev had not allocated any funds for the upkeep of the palace, which is dominated by two slender minarets.

"Ukraine has no resources and no moral right after these two decades to put up a big fight over Crimea's heritage," he told Reuters. "Everybody understands that the decision is taken and we must all get used to living under the new conditions."

"The sooner politicians and culture workers in Kiev understand that, the sooner life in Crimea and Ukraine will improve," he said.

In the elegant Livadia Palace in Yalta, director Larisa Dekusheva said she hoped to see more Russian tourists, now that Moscow has said it is determined to make Crimea a more popular holiday destination.

The white stone palace, sitting on a slope with spectacular views over the Black Sea, was the last residence built for the tsars before the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 and served as a tuberculosis sanatorium afterwards.

In February 1945 the site hosted the seven-day Yalta Conference, when Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt made key decisions on the post-war order.

"It was originally the property of the Romanov family, that is of the tsars of Russia," Dekusheva added, saying Moscow had historic rights to the palace and Kiev should not seek any compensation.

Crimea's new government has angrily dismissed any talk of potential compensation claims for the property it nationalized in separating from Ukraine.

"We will not pay a thing, we will make our case in proper legal proceedings. If such claims are presented, we will come up with counterclaims," Rustam Temirgaliyev, Crimea's First Deputy Prime Minister, told Reuters in late March. 
© Gabriela Baczynska @ The Thomson Reuters Foundation. 03 April, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:27 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 3 April 2014 6:36 AM EDT
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Saturday, 22 March 2014
Crimean Estates: Architectural Gems of the Peninsula
Topic: Crimea

Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the March 21st, 2014 edition of Russia Beyond the Headlines. The author Snezhana Sherstyuk owns the copyright of the article presented below. The photographs are copyright of Lori, Legion Media.

The favorite getaway of the Romanov family, a point of inspiration for the Russian artistic elite, Crimea is overloaded with long-lasting architectural legacy.

While on vacation in the Crimea, they would spend days, months and years here. The Russian writer Leo Tolstoy wanted to be buried here, the legendary opera singer Feodor Chaliapin worked on his autobiography in his Crimean Manor, and the seascape painter Aivazovsky, the hero of the Sotheby's auction, painted his famous landscapes on the terrace of his house. The last Russian emperor admired the Crimean palaces. RBTH presents a guide mostly for Crimea’s man-made attractions and real architectural gems that are strewn about the Black Sea coast.

The Swallow’s Nest

The residence was built after the Russian–Turkish war of the late 19th century for a retired Russian general whose name was not preserved in the history. However, the building itself, was named “Castle of Love" by its first owner, became immortalized in the paintings of Ivan Aivazovsky and on photographs of the time.

Since then, the construction on Mount Avrorina has changed its owners several times – it was owned by the family of the court physician, then – a Moscow merchant's wife Rachmaninova. She demolished the original wooden structure and replaced it with a castle, also made of wood. Rachmaninova was the one who gave the castle its present name – "Swallow's Nest.”

The last owner of “Swallow’s Nest", an oil industrialist Steinheil holds the credit for its medieval courtly architecture which is preserved to this day. A miniature Gothic castle, built above a 40-meter cliff became Crimea’s s future symbol – it was rebuilt in 1912. Only a living room could fit inside the building, and the stairs leading to two bedrooms, are located in a two-story tower.

At the beginning of the First World War, Baron Steinheil went to Germany, and sold the "Swallow's Nest” castle to a Moscow merchant, who opened a restaurant there. After his death, the restaurant was closed. After a 9-magnitude earthquake in 1927 the castle was declared dangerous and was closed for 40 years. In the restored “Swallow’s Nest “a restaurant was open again.

The castle is located near the village of Gaspra, near Yalta.

The Livadia Palace

One of the most luxurious residences of Crimea, the Livadia Palace is the last building erected in the Russian Empire for the royal family.

An elongated white building with an abundance of arched apertures in the Italian style, it was built in 1911. The author of the project was the Crimean architect Nikolai Krasnov; according to some sources, Emperor Nicholas II spent about 4 million prerevolutionary gold rubles on the construction (for comparison – the average civil servant in 1911 received an annual salary of 4,000 rubles, that is 1,000 times less). In 1993, the Livadia Palace was awarded the status of a museum.

The palace is located in the village of Livadia, 3 kilometers from the city of Yalta.

Panina Palace

A medieval palace with beautiful crenellated towers, with the ivy twined around it, and a facade in Gothic style, was built in the first half of the XIX century; it belonged to the noble old Russian family of Prince Golitsyn.

The building was designed by the famous modernist architect Fyodor Shechtel. From the Golitsyns, the palace in Gaspra was transferred to the Kochubeev noble family, and then – to the heiress of one of the richest families – Sophia Panina. The Russian writer Leo Tolstoy associated two years of his life with her name and this palace. During his stay in Gaspra, the writer had such visitors as Chekhov, Gorky, Kuprin and Chaliapin.

In his last trip to Gaspra Tolstoy caught a cold: in the midst of his illness, he felt so bad that his doctors had given up all hope of his recovery. Leo Tolstoy did not want to cause anyone any trouble with his body, and wished to hold his burial in the Crimea, for which he bought a small plot of land adjacent to the estate. However, Tolstoy recovered and lived another 8 years.

The palace is located in the village of Gaspra. Currently, there is a children's sanatorium “Yasnaya Polyana”, and on the first floor there is an exposition dedicated to the writer.

Yusupov Palace

The palace in Neo-Romanesque style with elements of the Renaissance was built by the Crimean architect Nikolay Krasnov for Prince Felix Yusupov, the former Governor-General of Moscow. The last reconstruction was led by the same Nikolai Krasnov; Yusupov Jr., (Felix’s heir known as the accomplice in the murder of Grigory Rasputin) was left unhappy with the estate’s view, he spoke of it as of an ugly building with gray walls, not appropriate for the seashore.

Sculptures of lions, marble mythological characters of ancient Greece brought from Venice, decorate the arches and the staircases. The interior is dominated by the modernist style.

The founder of the Yusupov Palace was gardener Carl Kebahom, famous at the time. The park covers an area of 16.5 hectares, on which 7,500 plants – ornamental trees and shrubs are located.

The palace is located in the village Koreiz .

Massandra Palace

The palace built in the style of Louis XIII soon lost it's master. The author of the project was a French architect Etienne Bouchard, who worked for a wealthy noble family representative Prince Semen Vorontsov. However, the future owner never saw the embodied project – due to Vorontsov’s death in 1882, the construction was suspended. 7 years later the estate was bought for the Emperor Alexander III. The palace’s construction was completed in 3 years, however, the Emperor could not live here either – he died in 1894, and the estate passed to Nicholas II.

In the 30s of the XX century, the palace became a sanatorium called "Proletarian health." After WWII state dacha "Stalinskaya" was located here, where Stalin, Khrushchev and later Brezhnev would stay.

The palace is located in the village of Verkhniaya Massandra.

The Vorontsov Palace

The palace was built in the mid 19th century for the Governor-General of New Russia Mikhail Vorontsov. The author of the project was Queen Victoria’s court architect Edward Blore – the famous Buckingham Palace of London was erected with his participation, as well as the Sir Walter Scott's castle in Scotland. The palace’s South facade, facing the sea, is built in the Moorish style, and is somewhat reminiscent of the famous Alhambra Palace of the Arab rulers of Spain in Granada, built in the late 14th century.

On the border of the façade’s deep niches the stylized Arabic inscription is repeated six times; it is the motto of the Grenada caliphs: "There is no victor but Allah!" The "Lion Terrace" is located in front of the palace, which descends from the monumental staircase with three pairs of white marble lions. The vigilant lions over the upper stairs imitate Antonio Canova’ lions from the tomb of Pope Clement XII in Rome.

The rear facade of the palace and its western part is a romantic architectural variation on the theme of "style Tudor" of the XVI – early XVII centuries. There are about 150 rooms including barns, in the building’s palace complex.

At present, the palace is a museum. Vorontsov Palace is located in Alupka.

Count Kuznetsov’s Palace (Chaliapin’s House)

In the mid 19th century, the tea and porcelain King Count Alexander Kuznetsov acquired the mansion in Foros – the Kuznetsov couple suffered from tuberculosis and were forced to live in the Crimea.The Kuznetsov palace was built in the style of Russian classicism, with it's characteristic simplicity and rigor of forms. The austere beauty of the Kuznetsov’s mansion is emphasized by the parks’s natural luxury. There are more than 200 species and forms of trees and shrubs gathered here, not only characteristic of the Crimea, but also exotic ones: palm trees, magnolias, redwoods, cedars, pines, stone pine, cypress , and fir. The "paradise” with a picturesque cascade of six small lakes is particularly noteworthy.

After Kuznetsov’s death, the estate became the property of industrialist Ushakov. In 1916, in his house, writer Alexei Gorky and singer Feodor Chaliapin were working on an autobiographical book about Chaliapin "Pages from my life" for six weeks.

To date, the palace is a building of the sanatorium in Foros.

Ayvazovsky House and Art Gallery

The seascape painter Ilya Aivazovsky’s National Art Gallery is located in the town of Feodosia. It was the first one artist – museum in the territory of the Russian Empire.

After Ivan Aivazovsky’s death in 1900, the Gallery, according to his will, was assigned to the artist’s hometown. The gallery is a collection of nearly 12,000 works on the marine themes, it has the world's largest collection of works by Aivazovsky (417 works).

Aivazovsky’s Gallery is located in the town of Feodosia (2, 4 Galereynaya Ulitsa). 
© Snezhana Sherstyuk @ Russia Beyond the Headlines. 22 March, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:42 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 22 March 2014 6:05 AM EDT
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