The Yusupov Palace in St. Petersburg is a “must see” on any tour or St. Petersburg shore excursion.
Compared to the grand suburban palaces like Peterhof and the Catherine Palace in Pushkin and even Gatchina Palace, the Yusupov Palace fits into the city environment in which it resides. It is only when you enter that you get a sense of its grand scale and wealth required to build it
Built in 1770 during the reign of Catherine the Great, the Yusupov family had “status” to preserve as there were many other wealthy families who were not a part of the ruling Romanov family. Among these families were the Sheremetevs who owned the Fountain House in St. Petersburg and for whom the main airport in Moscow is named. It was a tall order to “keep up with the Sheremetevs”. The Yusupov Palace did its job well.
Upon entering the Yusupov Palace you are greeted with a magnificent marble staircase. Your visit will reveal all manner of functional, albeit exquisite, rooms and a variety of special purpose rooms which include a ballroom and a spectacular private theater. The wealth of the Yusupovs enabled them to entertain not only the aristocrats but also the Russian royal family. Technically the wife of Yusupov was royal. She was the niece of Czar Nicholas II.
Art lovers will enjoy the Yusupov Palace. The family loved art and culture. It is obvious even with the pieces in the palace today. Vast numbers of art works were looted by the Bolsheviks and are on display in various museums around Russia including the Hermitage in St. Petersburg and the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.
It is said that some of the most famous works of art owned by the Yusupov family,including a Rembrandt, were sold to support the family in exile in Paris after the Bolshevik revolution.
Look at this painting of a charity ball staged in the ballroom of the Yusupov Palace. (click on the image to see a larger version)
A MURDER MOST FOUL -
Perhaps the event which most distinguishes the Yusupov Palace is the murder of one who was as crude as the Yusupovs were refined. That would be Gregori (Gregory) Rasputin. A fake faith healer, Rasputin had become essential to the Tzarina Alexandra. Her son, heir to the Russian throne, suffered from hemophilia and Rasputin convinced her that he had the power to relieve the boy’s suffering. Seeing that Rasputin’s influence was causing Czar Nicholas II to govern more irresponsibly than ever, Felix Yusupov and others lured Rasputin to the Palace where they murdered him.
While in Paris, where he died in 1967, Felix Yusupov filmed an introduction to a movie entitled “I Shot Rasputin”.
When you tour the Yusupov Palace you will definitely visit the state rooms, the music room and galleries of fine art owned by the Yusupov family. Only if you receive a proper tour with a tour guide recognized by the palace will you see the area of the palace where Rasputin was murdered. (There are periodic tours of the Rasputin murder area offered by the Palace but they are in Russian language only)
In order for St. Petersburg tour guides to have permission to tour in the Rasputin exhibition of the Yusupov Palace they must receive training and be credentialed by the the Palace. Re-certification must be accomplished each winter or they lose that certification. RussianTourGuide.com enjoys a special relationship with the Yusupov Palace and can take you, not only to the Rasputin area but also the Boudoir area, if enough notice is given.
There are evening cocktail parties,with live chamber music, which our clients can enjoy ! Ask us about a “Magic Evening at the Yusupov Palace”.
Starting in 2013 all RussianTourGuide.com
- St. Petersburg 2 Day Shore Excursions
- Comprehensive Tours of Russia (St. Petersburg ,Golden Ring & Moscow 12 Day tour)
will include an inside visit to the Yusupov Palace.
The Catherine Palace is a remarkable example of Russian baroque architecture. The existing palace was built between 1744 and 1756.
The leading role in design of the palace belongs to Italian architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli, who by 1756 created an architectural masterpiece, which the delighted Empress Elizabeth named after her mother, Catherine I. In the later part of the 18th century the palace was modified by Catherine II, ”the Great”.
Like the honored guests of the Russian tsars, the nowadays visitors can also admire the full splendor of the palace interiors. Many restored rooms are open for public and contain objects of applied art, fine furniture, Russian and European paintings, unique collections of porcelain, amber, weaponry, artistic bronze and sculpture.
By far the most famous of these rooms is the ”Amber Room”. First given by Fredrick the Great to Peter I, the amber panels were stored for many years. Finally they were assembled in this room and the room was considered to be extraordinary. During World War II the room was plundered. The amber was thought to have first been stolen by the Nazs during the Siege of Leningrad. What eventually happened to the precious works of art has been the subject of many books and wide speculation. After the war the Soviet began to restore the Amber Room as well as the entire palace from memories and pictures. The restoration of the Amber Room lasted 50 years.
Now the Catherine Palace and the magnificent Amber Room are among the must see sights in St. Petersburg and, indeed, the world!
The Catherine Palace is located in the village of Pushkin, a few miles from the center of St. Petersburg.
This picture is of Casey, the daughter of our American director. She is shown on the Catherine Palace grounds with one of the lesser buildings in the background.
The Winter Palace is undoubtedly the most famous building of imperial St. Petersburg, not only as the residence of the Tsars and the backdrop for the 1905 and 1917 Revolutions, but also as the home of the Hermitage, the world’s largest museum of art.
The present structure, completed in 1762 and designed by Bartolomeo Rastrelli, was commissioned by the Empress Elizabeth. Its opulent baroque facade, stretching two hundred meters, is a veritable cornucopia of pilasters, bays, and statuary.The palace served as the winter residence for every ruler of Russia since Peter III, who installed himself there along with his mistress, the Countess Vorontsova.
After his wife Catherine the Great seized the throne, she redecorated and appropriated her husband’s old quarters. While her son Nicholas I lived in a modest apartment there, his wife Alexandra commissioned the famously luxurious Malachite Room, later to be used as the meeting place for Kerensky’s Provisional Government. Nicholas II had his quarters immediately above this room until 1904, when he moved from the increasingly discontented capital to Tsarskoe Selo.
In July of 1917, the Provisional Government took up residence here, thus setting the stage for the October Revolution. After consolidating its power, the Bolshevik government transferred its capital to Moscow, and since that time the Winter Palace has been associated primarily with its role as the Hermitage Museum
Peterhof is the greatest of all of St. Petersburg’s suburban estates. The best time to visit is during the summer (June through October) when all the varied buildings are open to visitors and the beautiful fountains are operating.Peterhof - which means Peter’s Court – is one St. Petersburg’s most popular and famous visitor attractions.
The Hermitage Museum is Russia’s best gallery of world art, one of the most prominent art museums in the world and definitely the main tourist attraction of St. Petersburg. The museum was founded in 1764 when Catherine the Great purchased a collection of 255 paintings from the German city of Berlin.
Today, the Hermitage boasts over 2.7 million exhibits and displays a diverse range of art and artifacts from all over the world and from throughout history (from Ancient Egypt to the early 20th century Europe).
The Hermitage’s collections include works by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and Titian, unique collection of Rembrandts and Rubens, many French Impressionist works by Renoir, Cezanne, Manet, Monet and Pissarro, numerous canvasses by Van Gogh, Matisse, Gaugin and several sculptures by Rodin. The collection is both enormous and diverse and is an essential stop for all those interested in art and history.
The main building of the Hermitage Museum is the Winter Palace, which was once the main residence of the Russian Tsars. Magnificently located on the bank of the Neva River, this green-and-white three-storey palace is a marvel of Baroque architecture and boasts 1,786 doors, 1,945 windows and 1,057 elegantly and lavishly decorated halls and rooms, many of which are open to the public.
The Baroque Winter Palace was built between 1754 and 1762 and its first resident was none other than the celebrated Catherine the Great. Many of the palace’s impressive interiors were remodeled after the huge fire that partly destroyed the building in 1837.
Some of the best Russian and most famous foreign architects worked exhaustively to ensure that this Imperial residence was one of the finest and most luxurious palaces in the world.
The collections at the Hermitage are displayed in adjoining buildings along the Neva embankment, together form an enormous museum complex: the Winter Palace, the Small Hermitage, the Old Hermitage and lastly the New Hermitage. The Hermitage Theater, the private theater of the Tsars, is a beautifully decorated amphitheater and still hosts regular lectures, concerts, opera and Russian ballet performances.
The experts say that if you were to spend a minute looking at each exhibit on display in the Hermitage, you would need 11 years before you’d seen them all. We suggest you opt for one of our tour guides.
Open: Tuesday to Saturday 10:30am to 6pm Sundays and national holidays 10:30am to 5pm The Hermitage Museum is closed on Mondays. Ticket offices close one hour before the museum closes
Alexander Palace in Pushkin
Tours of St. Petersburg,Russia are hard to plan. Why? Because there are SO MANY great places to see and things to do in St. Petersburg.
The Alexander Palace was the last royal home to the last Czar, Nicholas II and his family, including Grand Duchess Anastasia.
The Alexander Palace is steeped in history. Located just 15 miles from St. Petersburg Russia, the Palace is on the Tsarskoe Selo (Czar’s village) estate.
Tsarskoe Selo estate encompasses some 1482.6 acres of land, chiefly donated by Peter I to the Russian court in 1701. The estate is home to the enormous Catherine Palace which was used by the last Czar and his family only on very formal occasions. The Alexander Palace is adjacent to the Catherine Palace and was their principal residence.
The original palace on the grounds of Tsarskoe Selo was only a 16 room summer palace. Peter the Great had it constructed for his wife Catherine Alekseyevna. His daughter, Elizabeth, later enlarged and improved the palace.
Years later Catherine the Great also added her input to the Alexander Palace. She spent much time on perfecting this project. This new palace was built for Catherine’s grandchild, Alexander I. The Alexander Palace was given to Alexander and his bride in 1793 as a wedding gift. He further contributed to the design of the remarkable Russian palace.
The palace was designed to be a home that was simple yet elegant.
In the end the design left out ornamental structures and expensive interior additions. It certainly cost much less than the more opulent Romanov summer palaces like Peterhof and the Catherine Palace. Even ornamental statues planned for the roof were removed to further simplify the design. The final product included both Roman and Palladian styles with a touch of Neo-Classicism. The facade that greets visitors is marked by a double row of columns linking two pavilions. Perpendicular wings creating the courtyard of the entrance way give the palace an urban feel. In the 1830s the Alexander Palace central colonnade was adorned with two bronze statues of young men playing Russian games.
In 1997 the Recollections of Alexander Palace exhibit was set-up in the left wing. A visit today to the Alexander Palace will enable you to see many of the clothes and other personal items belonging to the children of Nicholas II and his wife Alexandria. A poignant site to see is the family’s pet cemetery on the children’s island near the palace.
The Alexander Palace holds a unique place in the history of the Russian monarchy.
For more information on how this palace was viewed by its last inhabitants click here!
For more information and amazing photographs of the family of Nicholas II find the coffee-table book entitled “The Lost Word of Nicholas and Alexandra – TSAR” by Peter Kurth. Photos of the once all-powerful Tsar working in the vegatable garden of the Alexander Palace while under house arrest show just how far this monarch fell. The blissful scenes of the royal children at play near the palace prove that they had no idea of their tragic fate.
We can design a tour of St. Petersburg,Russia which will tell the story and and “connect the dots”between the relationship of the last czar and the evil Rasputin. You will see evidence of the limitless wealth and power of the czar and his family. The royal residences , particularly Peterhof , the Winter Palace, the Catherine Palace and the Alexander Palace. You will also see the beautiful downtown Yusupov Palace where friends of Nicholas II murdered Rasputin hoping to save the czar from his disastrous influence.
If you have children they have undoubtedly seen the animated film “Anastasia “. We will bring the characters and places in “Anastasia” to life and correct the historical errors portrayed in the film.
Ask us to create this tour for your family.