PHOTO: Beshuiskaya dacha, Nicholas II’s hunting lodge in Crimea
The beginning of His Majesty’s Own Hunt in the Crimean mountains was established by Emperor Alexander II (1818-1881) in the 1860s from the Nikitskaya dacha, situated in the Yuzhno-Berezhansky Forest, near Livadia. Subsequently, the Tsar’s Hunt in Crimea expanded, with two additional state forest dachas established in the Beshuisky and Ayan forest districts (Crown Lands).
From 14 to 18 October 1880, a hunt was organized for Tsesarevich Alexander Alexandrovich (future Emperor Alexander III) in the Beshuisky forest. It was this hunting trip which prompted the construction of the Beshuiskaya dacha, situated 60–70 yards from the Kosmo-Damianovsky Monastery. The hunting lodge was completed by September 1884.
PHOTO: Nicholas II and Count Frederiks in front of Beshuiskaya dacha
The Beshuiskaya dacha was a one-story wooden building on a stone foundation, and consisted of 8 rooms: a living room with an office, a bedroom, two servants’ rooms, a pantry and a bathroom. Following the example of his grandfather and father, Nicholas II came here repeatedly for hunting and to visit the monastery.
The most professional and promising employees from the tsar’s hunting estates at Spala, and later from Białowieża, were transferred to Crimea. In the fall of 1913, Edmund Vladislavovich Wagner was appointed Head of His Majesty’s Own Hunt in the Crimea. In total, the staff of His Majesty’s Own Hunt in 1913-1917, including the gamekeepers, consisted of thirty people.
PHOTO: Nicholas II relaxing on the balcony of Beshuiskaya dacha
Nicholas II records one of his Crimean hunts on 17th September 1913:
“… I got up at 3 o’clock and went hunting, and killed one deer . . . The weather was excellent and the day was very warm. I returned to the house by 9 o’clock. Drank tea with my daughters, who had been at the early Mass. We sat on the porch until 12 o’clock when they brought my deer. We had breakfast and left at exactly one o’clock to Livadia, where we arrived at 3.20 … “
During his last visit to the southern coast of Crimea in the spring of 1914, the emperor made several trips to Beshuiskaya, but these were not for hunting, but entertaining and hiking with his family, relatives, officers and members of his retinue.
Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, hoping for a miracle, chose a healing spring at the Kosmo-Damianovsky Monastery, for the treatment of Tsesarevich Alexei, who suffered with hemophilia. However, the journey from Livadia to the monastery was rather long and burdensome.
By 1910, the Imperial Garage in Livadia was completed, the roads used by the Tsar had to be made suitable for his motorcars. That same year, construction began of the Romanov Highway, a mountain route which connected Upper Massandra with the Tsar’s hunting lodge and the nearby monastery. The road was completed in the fall of 1913, making it suitable for motor traffic.
The advantages of the new highway reduced the distance between the Imperial residences by more than twenty kilometers. Thanks to this, the travel time was reduced: judging by the diary entries of Nicholas II, He usually got from Livadia to the Hunting Lodge in about three hours.
The date of 6th May 1914, turned out to be the last time that Emperor Nicholas II and his Family would drive along the scenic Romanov Road from Livadia to visit Beshuiskaya dacha, their hunting dacha in Crimea. Within a few short months, the outbreak of the First World War, their joyful happy days would forever remain in the past.
PHOTO: another view of Beshuiskaya dacha, Nicholas II’s hunting lodge in Crimea
© Paul Gilbert. 6 January 2021
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