Unique Discoveries Found During
Restoration of Livadia Palace

Phase one of the restoration of Livadia Palace have yielded some unique discoveries.

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The restoration of the former residence of Tsar Nicholas II at Livadia has yielded some unique discoveries, much to the delight and surprise of the palace-museum administration.

Several historical details dating from the early 20th century have been discovered that many believed had been lost during the Soviet years.

No major restoration work has been carried out at Livadia during the last 90 years. Instead, only cosmetic repairs had been carried out simply to keep the building in order.

The former palace-estate of the Romanovs is considered one of the top tourist attractions in the Crimea and a popular venue that has played host to meetings and conferences and which has drawn politicians and leaders from all over the world.

Despite this, however, the palace has lost much of its former luster, and its beauty starting to fade. The rich parquet and wood paneling have turned dark with age and wear; cracks are noticeable in the walls, broken doors and windows need to be replaced, plus, the foundation of the palace is under constant threat due to landslides.

The Government of the Crimea has decided to address this issue by allocating substantial funds for a full restoration of the palace. The first phase which began last year saw repair work carried out on the first and second floors of the building.

Krymproektrestavratsiya Enterprises, the company who won the tender to carry out the restoration has had a lot of experience in the field of restoring historic buildings. The control over the quality of work carried out utilizing scientifically sound technology is strictly observed. This is backed up by considerable support and assistance provided by research staff of the Livadia Palace-Museum.

Yuri Ivanov, spokesman for Krymproektrestavratsiya: “We tried to preserve each element of the historical interiors, so that nothing is destroyed or disappears. The beauty of this place should be left to our people, so that they can come here and enjoy it and to appreciate its history.”

Larissa Vertepova, researcher at Livadia Palace-Museum: “Our main objective is the preservation of this unique palace, a monument of history and architecture, the only Imperial palace built during the reign of the Emperor Nicholas II. In order to preserve the historical elements of each room, our scientific department has reviewed documents and photographs down to the finest detail including original wallpapers among other interior elements. This is particularly the case on the second floor where the private apartments of the Imperial family are located.”

The monogram of Nicholas II, Livadia Palace

The restoration of the palace has yielded some unique discoveries. For instance, craftsmen working on the columns in the lobby on the first floor discovered that they were in fact made of marble. During the Soviet years the columns had been encased in a layer of mortar and plaster. The restorers carefully cleaned them, repaired the damage, polished and coated the marble with a special wax, as would have been done during the reign of Nicholas II.

Another surprise was found in the same room above the main entrance where restorers discovered the monogram of Nicholas II, which for decades has been hidden from view. It has since been restored once again thanks to photographs found in the palace-museum archives.

All the marble fireplaces in the palace have been thoroughly cleaned, their metal accessories and parts polished.

On the second floor of the bedroom of the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, the original wood paneling has been restored to its original thanks to documents and photographs. The interiors are very similar to the time when the Empress stayed at Livadia.

A lot of work had to be carried out to restore the stucco on the walls and ceilings of the palace, as well as work on the wooden doors and windows. Nearly all of them are 100 years old. A unique mechanism designed to open and close the windows now works like clockwork.

A lift used by the Imperial family while they were in residence at Livadia has also been restored and is once again fully functional. The age-old mechanism was designed to carry no more than 3-4 people at a time up to the palace’s sun deck which overlooks the Black Sea.

Larissa Dekusheva, Director of Livadia Palace-Museum: “The first phase of the restoration work is now complete. The second phase of the restoration will begin shortly and include the eastern façade of the palace, the entrance, the Italian courtyard, the upper part of the roof, the sun deck and solarium.”

During the restoration work, the Livadia Palace-Museum has remained open. At the same time the palace-museum administration have gone to great lengths to minimize the inconvenience to visitors.

The Romanovs in the Crimea Conference, Livadia Palace-Museum

On May 24th the palace-museum hosted the Romanovs in the Crimea Conference. The conference is held annually and brings together historians and scholars from all over Russia and the Ukraine. The subject of this year’s conference was the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. A total of 12 papers were presented at the conference which discussed various aspects in the life of the Russian Empress.

In the past year, Livadia Palace-Museum has presented a number of new publications, including two pictorial albums;

- The Construction of the New Grand Palace at the Livadia Estate of HIM Nicholas II, 1910-1911

- Livadia in Watercolours

- The Romanovs in Livadia: Nicholas II and His Family in the New Livadia Palace, 1911-1914

- Livadia-Palace Museum (second edition)

All of these new titles are only available in the Russian language.

Source & Copyright: Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia
15 August, 2012