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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

Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBAs ongoing Breakfast with the Director series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at Sounds of the Universe, a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the clubs website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit Neophobia at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBAs Marketing and Communications Committees round table discussion on Government Relations Practices in Russia this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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