The Imperial Route: in the footsteps of Nicholas II

PHOTO: the Imperial Route helps to keep their memories alive

In 2017, the Imperial Route Project was developed by the Elisabeth-Sergius Educational Society Foundation (ESPO), with the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation. The implementation of the project was launched in 2018, the year marking the 100th anniversary of the martyrdom of the Emperor Nicholas II, his Family and other members of the Russian Imperial House.

In 2018, the Imperial Route united 10 regions of Russia: St. Petersburg, Moscow, Tyumen, Sverdlovsk, Omsk, Tomsk, Pskov, Kirov and Perm. A year later, another 9 Russian regions expressed their desire to participate in the national historical and cultural tourism project.

PHOTO: map of the Imperial Route, showing the 19 participating regions

The 19 participating regions include: St. Petersburg, Moscow, Moscow region, Pskov region, Kirov region, Perm region, Omsk region, Tomsk region, Sverdlovsk region, Tyumen region, Oryol Region, Kostroma region, Kaluga region, Republic of Crimea, Novgorod region, Bryansk region, Republic of Tatarstan, Stavropol region, Voronezh region, and Novosibirsk region.

The participating regions signed a trilateral agreement on the development of the Imperial Route Project. The head of the Federal Agency for Tourism of the Russian Federation Zarina Valerievna Doguzova noted that “the Imperial Route will provide a new impetus for the development and preservation of Russia’s historical and cultural heritage and the implementation of new educational programs aimed at the continuity of historical memory”.

PHOTO: the Russian Agency for Tourism promoting the Imperial Route

The goal of the Imperial Route Project is to revive the foundations of the historical, cultural and spiritual component of Russia, during the 300 year reign of the Romanov Dynasty. In particular, the route will focus on Russia’s last Emperor Nicholas II and his family: their residences, how they lived, places they visited, how they kept their high traditions of piety, etc. The project will also include those members of the Imperial family who were murdered at Alapaevsk, Perm, Petrograd, etc.

The participants of the project, were informed about the stages of the formation of the Imperial Route, the scientific and educational, museum and exhibition work that was carried out by the ESPO Foundation who have worked with historians, ethnographers, and archivists since 2011. The head of the ESPO Foundation Anna Vitalievna Gromova noted that the task of the project is to acquaint both Russians and foreigners with the achievements of the Imperial House of Romanov, between 1613-1917.

PHOTO: promoting the Imperial Route Project

ESPO have been closely involved in a series of major projects that reflect the history of Imperial Russia and the Romanov dynasty, including the Museum of the History of the Imperial Orthodox Palestinian Society in Moscow, the Cross-monument at the site of the death of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich in the Kremlin, the Museum of the Family of Emperor Nicholas II in Tobolsk and the Museum of Memory of the Representatives of the Russian Imperial House in Alapaevsk.

One of the main goals of the Imperial Route is the creation of new museums. The next stages of the development of the project cover places which involved visits and pilgrimages by Nicholas II and his family. Other projects include the revival of estates and residences, such as the Imperial Estate Ilyinskoye-Usovo in the Moscow region, which belonged to the Empress Maria Alexandrovna, and after her death the residence of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich and Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, the Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich’s estate in Ostashevo near Moscow, the estate of Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich in the village of Lokot, Bryansk Region, places of visits and pilgrimages in the Kaluga region – the revival of the Sergius Skete, created by the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovnaof the Orthodox Society in memory of her husband Sergei Alexandrovich, who was assassinated in February 1905. The ESPO Foundation together with the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation plans to create up to 10 museums and exhibition spaces along the Imperial Route.

PHOTO: information brochures published by the Imperial Route Project

Each region is responsible for implementing commemorative signs at sites participating in the Imperial Route Project, and working with local tourism agencies to promote former Imperial residences, museums, exhibitions, churches, etc., that have a historic connection to the Romanovs. *Tour operators from Germany, Italy, France, Serbia have already shown great interest in this new tourism initiative, which will draw more visitors to Russia, those who wish to learn about the last Tsar and members of his family.

*Once the pandemic is behind us, and travel from the West resumes, tour operators will also offer their services to English speaking visitors from the United States, Canada, Australia and Great Britain.

The National Historical and Cultural Tourism Project The Imperial Route provides an opportunity to take a fresh look at Russia’s history and introduce the younger generation to the nations’ chain of historical events. “We want to preserve the memory of the 300-year history of Imperial Russia which is famous for its military exploits, scientific achievements, and successes in cultural development. On the Imperial Route everyone will be able to find something of interest, which will not only set examples of the achievements made by members of the Russian Imperial Family, but also to inspire them to live and work for the good of the Fatherland,” said Anna Vitalievna Gromova.

PHOTO: the Imperial Route train now runs between Tyumen
and Tobolsk, as well as Ekaterinburg and Alapaevsk

In the coming years, the Imperial Route will continue to develop new incentives and places of interest. For instance, on 20th February of this year, a special “Imperial Route” train running between Ekaterinburg and Alapayevsk was launched on the Sverdlovsk Railway (a branch of Russian Railways). The first Imperial Route train was initiated in 2018, between Tyumen and Tobolsk.

This new service is part of the Russian tourist project “Imperial Route,” which allows visitors to the Urals to acquaint themselves with places associated with the period – August 1917 to July 1918 – that the Imperial Family were held in Ekaterinburg and Alapaevsk.

The train making the three-hour journey is equipped with an Imperial Family-themed wagon, complete with information boards and video monitors. The train will run on weekends on a special schedule.

Upon arriving in Alapaevsk, visitors are taken by bus to places of importance in the lives of those members of the Imperial Family who were murdered there on 18th July 1918 – the day after Emperor Nicholas II, his family and four faithful retainers were brutally murdered in Ekaterinburg.

In Alapaevsk, 6 members of the Imperial Family, along with 2 faithful servants met a brutal death being thrown down a mineshaft near Alapayevsk by the Bolsheviks. The victims included Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, nun Varvara Yakovleva, Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich, his secretary Fyodor Remez, Princes of the Imperial Blood Ioann, Konstantin and Igor Konstantinovich and Prince Vladimir Pavlovich Paley.

© Paul Gilbert. 19 March 2021

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