My Trips to St. Petersburg (see blog below map)

My Trips to St. Petersburg (see blog below map)
This kind of map is great to find your way around St. Petersburg's attractions.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Yusupovs & The Romanovs vs Grigory Rasputin

One of the places I mentioned yesterday was The Yusupov Palace. Where do I begin to talk about this palace and the former residents? The Palace, located at 94 Moika, is a beautiful home. If you are wondering, Moika is the name of the canal that runs in front of it. I do have to say that since the last time I was in Russia (2005) St. Petersburg has really started to become very touristy. The "powers that be" in the St. Petersburg government have learned quite quickly that they can capitalize on their palaces, museums and other historical locations. Why do I say this? Here is one example. When I went to Yusupov Palace the first time, you paid around 150 rubles at the student price and around 300 rubles for the Adult price, and that included the Rasputin rooms, I believe it was about 50 rubles to take photos. Now, the cost is 380 rubles for students and 500 rubles for adults and that does NOT include the Rasputin rooms. So what happened when I went this time was just this. I go on Saturday, day before I am to leave and pay my 380 rubles thinking cool I can get pictures this time of the Rasputin rooms (the study in which they attempted to kill Rasputin, and the room on the side with photos and hand written letters by the mad monk himself). So I pay and jump right in with the tourist group - ah the dreaded tourist group. Yes I even paid the extra 100 rubles to take photos. Moving along from room to room with the tour guide who is speaking only in Russian - good thing I know enough to understand a bit of what she was saying (and yes the little babushkas are checking for the sticker and reminding "No flash!"). As we are moving along I (along with another young Russian tourist guy) linger back a bit to get pictures and here comes a babushka "Deyvushka, davai, davai." She was saying "Girl, let's go, let's go" in other words she was rushing me along. I think that if you pay 480 rubles ($20.50) to get a tour and pay for photos, then you should be able to linger as long as you want in whatever room you want - am I wrong in this assumption? So here we go towards the lobby, and having been there before I know you have to go through the lobby and down some stairs to get to the Rasputin rooms. Imagine my surprise when she says in Russian that it is the end of tour - konets - finis - the end - and here we are in the lobby, next to the bank-o-mat which is conveniently located right outside the gift shop. So feeling a bit shafted I walked out and went by the ticket booth and saw the sign - that I missed. "Rasputin Tour - 1:45 ONLY!" Well, by this time it was 2:45, I missed the damned tour somehow and was leaving the next day. So I get back to the dorm and talk to Dr. Stakhanova and she says to me "Well go back tomorrow." So I said I guessed so. The next day, the day I am leaving I head back into the city - mind you I am on a different island so it takes me about an hour to get there - taking the bus, then having to walk oh and cost me more money by having to pay for bus fare back and forth (32 rubles total) and I arrive at the Palace. Now I go up to the ticket booth or bilet kiosk and ask for a ticket for Rasputin. The babushka looks at me and says in Russian "RASPUTIN - V SUBOTTA TOLKA " (Rasputin в субботу только). In English that means "Rasputin on Saturdays ONLY!) Had I not seen the rooms the first time I went, I would have been really pissed this time. So needless to say I walked it off by going over to The Cathedral on Spilt Blood and took as many pictures and lingered as long as I wanted. Even bought some souvenirs that weren't outrageously priced like at the Palace. I get back to the dorm and Dr. Stakhanova asks me "How was the tour?" and I procede to tell her the above. She just shook her head. Another thing that burned my bottom was this; I had taken many, many pictures of Yusupov Palace and realizing I was low on picture space deleted many so I would have space for the Rasputin Room pictures... One of the only things I regret about my trip.

Well here is the man that all of the hype is about. Charming isn't he? I gotta say he wouldn't be my first pick. Everyone knows the story of Rasputin. He charmed his way into the Romanov family to a point that they depended on him for all matters spiritual and in state. Knowing he was the only one that could heal Tsarevich Alexei from his haemophilia, Alexandra and Nicholas grew dependent on Rasputin in such a way that it caused them many enemies and eventually led to their demise (The Tsar and his whole family, along with Dr. Eugene Botkin and servants were mowed down by revolutionaries in a house in Ekaterinburg - when found all of the tsarinas had pictures of Rasputin in their lockets around their necks). The two gentlemen that orchestrated this are quite interesting. They were Prince Felix Yusupov and Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich. Grand Duke Dmitri was a Romanov and was one of the only Romanovs to escape the Red Terror. At one time he was picked by Tsar Nicholas and Tsarina Alexandra to marry their daughter Olga and was considered one of the darlings of the Romanov dynasty. He was also considered quite the lady's man, dating all sorts of women including Conseulo Vanderbilt of THE Vanderbilts, Pauline deRothschild, great great granddaughter of Francis Scott Key and a direct decendant of Pocahontas and lastly Vera Karalli, one of the first celebrated Russian film actresses. He fell from grace however not only for his role in the Rasputin murder but also because he caused a scandal by having an affair with a man, the man being cross dresser Felix Yusupov. Not too long after this, the Grand Duke was sent to the Persian front which ultimately saved his life. He would soon end up in England where he met up again with Felix, and a falling out soon followed. Once he reached London, he would become a Champagne salesman and would ultimately meet Coco Chanel (whom he had an affair with) because of his sister's connections. After fleeing Russia his sister Marie would become a fixture in the fashion world, hence her connection with Chanel. Because of Marie's and Dmitri's connection, Chanel met some perfumers in Grasse, France and Chanel No.5 was created. The Grand Duke would ultimately die from Uremia (kidney failure) but not before marrying American socialite Audrey Emery and procuring an invite from Hitler asking him to fight against the Bolsheviks with exiled nobles. He turned Hitler down, not wishing to fight against his own people.

Then there was Prince Felix Yusupov, whose wife Princess Irina it was that Rasputin was purportedly invited to see and eat dinner with. She was the granddaughter of Alexander III and niece of Nicholas II. They were so wealthy that their annual income was estimated at 1,258,000 rubles. They owned 17 estates scattered through out Russia, as well as a mine in the Donbass, 8 tenement blocks in Moscow and St. Petersburg and dozens of factories and firms. Many of his friends would come for entertainment to 94 Moika, one of them having been Alexander Pushkin the great poet of Russia. For his role in the murder of Rasputin, Felix was exiled from Russia never to return to his home again. The building is now owned by the Grand Dutchess Xenia Yusupova Sfyris. A large painting of her can be seen in one of the rooms. Now I do have to say this about the Rasputin room. When I walked in the Study (this was the first of the two rooms we walked into) I was not expecting to see wax figures. Scared me half to death! I can actually say that I walked the stairs Rasputin did and touched the walls he was to die within. Now on with the pictures!

(Here is me in front of the Palace. The plaque says Yusupov Palace of course!- Taken in 2005)
Here's a picture I took this last time I was there, 2008.
There was no way that that guy was gonna move. I finally gave up. He was too busy waiting for the tour buses.

Here is a view of the Moika Canal taken from a small bridge in the middle of the Canal.

Another shot of the palace taken from directly across. It was too wide really to get a picture of it this way without taking the picture in seperate parts.

I thought this was the best angle I could get of the palace and in my opinion is a great shot.

Here is a picture of one of the bedrooms. I love the color blue in this with the pink. Although I thought it a bit strange that they have so many seats at the end of the bed. Were they expecting an audience?

I loved this view! This was a view of the main staircase chandelier from the Gobelin Drawing Room. This is across from the Oak Dining Room that will be pictured later. The room was designed by B. Simon in the 1840s.

A view of the Turkish Bath. I would have taken more pictures but there were cloths up for there was restoration being done. The Yusupovs were of Tartar origin which is actually Turkish -hence Islamic. They later convereted to Orthodoxy.The ceiling in the Large Rotunda (Main Study). Architect A. Mikhailov, Artists A. Vighi and A. Travin.

The Red Drawing Room - Architect A. Mikhailov, Artist B. Medici

The Green Drawing Room. Architects JBM Vallin de la Mothe, 1770s;
A. Mikhailov, 1830s;
I. Monighetti, 1858-60
A view into the next room....

The Ball Room. Architect A. Mikhailov, Artists B. Medici & P. Scotti

Close up of the ceiling

Another picture of the Ball room

The Large banquet Hall. I, along with the group of tourists saw some gentlemen sing in this room. They actually sang some Gershwin which I found interesting since my great grandpa Dewey had actually been friends with Gershwin. Afterwards of course they wanted you to buy their CD. See what I mean by touristy? It was really wonderful until you started to walk out and you saw them selling CDs in this beautiful room. Spoiled the ambiance. You sit and realize what it might have been like for only a brief minute to be back in time watching a performance there like the Yusupov's did and BAM! Blindsided by these interprising minstrels!
Close up of the chandelier.. probably my most favorite photo I took the whole time in Russia. I thought it looked very "Phantom of the Opera-ish"
A picture I took of a picture...Zinaida Yusupova (1861-1939). She was the mother of Felix Yusupov.

I don't remember what room this was but I was quite proud of myself for being able to get both sides of the room in one picture via the aide of a mirror.

This was a statue in the hallway leading to the Yusupov Theater - this was part of the Picture Room. Suddenly I feel the need to sing "I Believe I Can Fly..." It actually reminded me of the Falconette in Paris but it actually has a head!

A photo I absolutely loved in the Picture Gallery! If you can't tell what it is, it's a picture of a monkey painting some cats.

Okay, here's where I did a little stealth photography. After I took pictures in the Picture Gallery I walked into this room and was about to take a picture when a lady came up to me and said "НЕ ПОТОГРАФФИИ" which means NO PICTURES in this room. So after she walked downstairs I snapped this one. Bad thing was I thought it applied to the theatre as well but it didn't. Thank god because I was snapping like crazy!

The stage in the Yusupov Theatre. The lady in white and black was our "tour guide."

The Ceiling in the Theatre

One of the balconies in the theatre

The other balcony in the theatre! How bout that for home theatres!

Just another shot of the Theatre. I think I was trying to get a photo of the Yusupov's box.

Entering the Antonio Vighi Room

The ceiling - The Triumph of Hercules (Late 18th early 19th Century)

A view of the Main Staircase from the Oak Dining Room

The Chandelier in the Oak Dining Room

The ceiling in the Main Staircase

The full chandelier in the Main Staircase

The Sphinx across from the Bank-o-mat and the gift shop...Several eras collide. Late 18th Century.

This was the glass in Yusupov Bedroom.

This staircase was really interesting. Underneath towards the back was a secret panel/room. When Felix Yusupov quickly left Russia he put many of his important documents in this room thinking he would be able to come back for them. However he was never able to. When restoration was being done, workers found this secret panel and found many of Yusupov's documents. Among them was a manuscript by Aleksandr Pushkin in his own handwriting. Oh, the staircase in case you are wondering led to Princess Yusupova's bedroom.
Lastly was this room the Dining Room. All of the cases you see now contain souvenirs that people can buy. Small porcelain objects, jewelry, birch and lacquer boxes, etc.

Here's hoping you enjoyed your tour of the Yusupov Palace as much as I did!

Photo credits: the two of the Rasputin room are courtesy of The Yusupov Palace Book I bought in Russia. The photos of Grigory Rasputin, Felix Yusupov and Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich are courtesy of Wikipedia and Wikimedia.

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