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City View: The Yusupov Palace

Published: August 13, 2014 (Issue # 1824)



  • The Yusupov Palace is a reminder of St. Petersburgs opulence during tsarist times.
    Photo: wikimedia commons

St. Petersburgs Yusupov Palace is a gilded example of aristocratic St. Petersburg but it is best known these days for being where Grigory Rasputin, the Siberian monk who rose to prominence as a confidante of the Romanovs during the reign of the last Russia tsar Nicholas II, was murdered.

The royal family came under Rasputins spell when he began to minister to Alexei, Nicholass young son. Alexei suffered from hemophilia, a closely-guarded secret among the royal family, and Rasputin seemed at times miraculously able to control the childs bleeding. The tsarina, Alexandra, soon came to believe that without Rasputin her son would die. At the same time Rasputin was accused of scandalous misdeeds, including rape, and of having too much political control over the royal family.

As a result, a number of people tired of Rasputins influence and conspired to murder him.

One of the leading conspirators was Prince Felix Yusupov, who belonged to one of Russias most recognized noble dynasties. The sole heir to a massive fortune, the young prince used to dress in womens clothes and masquerade about the restaurants and clubs of St. Petersburg. One particular story about his cross-dressing exploits claims that King Edward VII of England tried to make his acquaintance while he was dressed as a woman. Despite his feminine behavior, he married a niece of Nicholas II.

On a cold December night in 1916, Yusupov, who hated Rasputin but faked a friendship with him, lured the healer to his palace on the Moika River under the pretext of meeting his wife, who Rasputin was curious to meet with. Irina was actually out of town at that time and instead there waiting for him was a group of Yusupovs associates.

Felix Yusupov first offered Rasputin cakes and drinks laced with cyanide. However, Rasputin was unaffected by the poison, which was seen as another sign of Rasputins seemingly supernatural powers. Experts later said the sweet food most likely had a neutralizing effect on the cyanide. The conspirators then beat and eventually shot Rasputin several time, but this also did not kill the man. The desperate murderers then dumped the man into the icy water of the Neva River. Rasputins body was later found and autopsied; the results showing that the final cause of his death was from drowning.

The assassination happened in the part of the Yusupov Palace where the duke lived with his wife. Today those rooms are home to a historical exhibition that details the event, including wax figures of Rasputin, Yusupov and the four other conspirators, outlining the dramatic night.

In 1919, the remaining Yusupovs, Felix Yusupov, his wife, their daughter Irina and his parents, immigrated to Western Europe. In 1925, the palace, which had been owned by five generations by then (from 1830 to 1917), was given to the pedagogical intelligentsia of the city. Felix Yusupov would eventually die in Paris in 1967, nearly half a century after leaving Russia.

Today, the Yusupov Palace is a relic of the St. Petersburg nobility that has kept not only the grand apartments, picture gallery halls and a miniature home theater in pristine condition but also the luxurious dwellings of the family.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Nov. 26


AmChams Public Relations Committee will meet this afternoon in their office in the New St. Isaacs Office Center on Ulitsa Yakubovicha at 4 p.m.


Zoosphere, an international exhibition focusing on the pet industry, opens today at the Lenexpo convention center on Vasilievsky Island. Not only will items such as toys, terrariums and accessories be available for purchase, but animal enthusiasts can also learn about the latest in veterinary medicine and behavioral training thanks to the conferences and presentations that are part of the event.



Thursday, Nov. 27


The Customs and Transportation Committee for AmCham meets this morning at 9 a.m. in their office on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.


Tickets are still available for local KHL team SKA St. Petersburgs showdown with Siberian club Metallurg Novokuznetsk tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Ice Palace outside the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. Tickets can be purchased on the teams website, at the arena box office or in their merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.


Celebrate one of Russian literatures most tragic figures during Blok Days, a two-day celebration of the 134th anniversary of the poets birthday. The tragic tenors work, which led to writer Maxim Gorky to hail him as Russias greatest living poet before his death in 1921, will be recited and meetings and discussions about his contributions to the Silver Age of literature in St. Petersburg will be discussed in the confines of his former residence.



Friday, Nov. 28


Join table game aficionados at the British Book Centers Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test ones intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only mans best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during todays reenactment titled Winter War: How it Was. More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie Black Cat, White Cat, as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of Takoy Festival, a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonights festival finale is Fathers and Sons, a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenevs classic about familial relations.



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