Arkhangelskoye Estate – Glamorous World
of the Russian Nobility to be Discovered

Tour the former estate of the Yusupov family at Arkhangelskoye

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One of the greatest country homes built by the Russian aristocracy, Arkhangelskoye, with its sheer grandeur, outstanding beauty and unique art collections can blow anyone away.

What eventually became a magnificent estate started out as a small 16th-Century village. Having changed numerous owners, it remained nothing spectacular until 1703, when it became the property of the rich Golitsyn family, who began to improve and expand it.

Arkhangelskoye truly flourished in the 1780s, when one of the Golitsyns, Prince Nikolay, embarked on an ambitious project to transform the estate into a European-style manor. Under his orders, work began to lay out a park and to put up a palace designed by a French architect.

Golitsyn died before his plan was realized and in 1810 the estate was sold off to Prince Nikolay Yusupov, one of Russia’s richest men, known for his love of the arts. Yusupov picked up where Golitsyn left off. The war with Napoleon in 1812 and a peasant revolt the same year proved major hurdles, but Yusupov was not about to give up on what had become his pet project.

In Arkhangelskoye, the prince realized his lifelong dream of an estate that could house his spectacular art collection and where he could also entertain in style. Yusupov wanted his estate to outshine any other Russian country home, and he managed to achieve this. When completed, Arkhangelskoye became the heart of Moscow high-society life, with VIP guests dropping by on a regular basis.

Noblemen, politicians, writers and famous poets, Aleksandr Pushkin among them, all came to Arkhangelskoye. The estate also welcomed several generations of Russian tsars, whose visits were marked by the construction of special columns. The Prince spared no expense to satisfy his fancies. Fondly remembering the times of Catherine the Great, he commissioned a monument to the Empress. Yusupov also ordered the building of a theater boasting one of Russia’s largest companies of serf actors, and a smaller palace with a name that speaks for itself – “Caprice”.

The lavish grand palace housed Yusupov’s unique collection of books, paintings and sculptures, while the park was filled with exotic plants and had a zoo; the estate even produced its own porcelain. Virtually the only building there which was not put up on Yusupov’s order is the estate’s oldest construction, the 17th-Century Church of the Archangel Michael, from which Arkhangelskoye takes its name.

In 1919, the Yusupov family fled Soviet Russia and the Bolsheviks nationalized the estate, turning it into a museum. In the 1930s, a military health resort was built here.

Nowadays, Arkhangelskoye offers plenty of entertainment, art exhibitions and open-air concerts, not to mention a trip back in time to the extravagant and glamorous world of the Russian nobility waiting to be discovered.

Source: Russia Today
29 July, 2010