Railway station the Imperial Family went into exile from to be a cultural heritage site

PHOTO: Early 20th century view of the Aleksandrovskaya Railway Station in Tsarskoye Selo (Pushkin)

A proposal has been made to designate the Alexandrovskaya Railway Station in Tsarskoye Selo (Pushkin) as a cultural heritage site. It was from this station, that the Imperial Family went into exile on 14th (O.S. 1st) August 1917.

The idea, however, is already under attack by the Committee for State Control, Use and Protection of Historical and Cultural Monuments (KGIOP), who refuse to recognize the historic Aleksandrovskaya Railway Station in Tsarskoye Selo (Pushkin) as a cultural heritage site.

Residents of both the village of Aleksandrovskaya and the city of St. Petersburg wasted little time in launching a petition addressed to the Committee chairman Sergei Makarov, as well as the Governor of Saint Petersburg Alexander Beglov, as well as to the local branch of the United Russia Party.

The petition notes that Aleksandrovskaya is located in the Pushkin district of St. Petersburg and has existed since the time of Emperor Nicholas I (1796-1855). The station was built in the 1860s – on the St. Petersburg – Luga line – according to a standard design developed by the architect Pyotr Onufrievich Salmonovich (1833-1898).

The author of the appeal believes that the decision of the KGIOP does not correspond with the interests of the citizens of Alexandrovskaya in preserving the cultural heritage, historical appearance and aesthetics in and around St. Petersburg. The signatories demand to overrule the decision of the KGIOP and include the Aleksandrovskaya Railway Station in the list of cultural heritage sites. The petition has already received 26 thousand signatures!

PHOTO: Early 20th century view of memorial chapel to Alexander II,
Demolished by the Bolsheviks in 1949

Local historians recall that in 1867 Emperor Alexander II, was solemnly greeted here, after surviving an assassination attempt in France,. On 25th May 1868, in the presence of the Emperor and members of the Imperial Family, a stone chapel was consecrated “In memory of the miraculous salvation of the life of Emperor Alexander II by the Grace of God. The fanatic A. Berezovsky committed an attempt on his life.” The chapel was based on the design of the architect Alexander Fomich Vidov (1829-1896). In 1923, the chapel was closed, the building was converted into a storage room. On 10th January 1949, the chapel was demolished by the Bolsheviks.

It was also from this station, that Emperor Nicholas II and his family went into exile in the summer of 1917 – it would be their final rail journey.

PHOTO: In 2011, this cross memorial was installed on the preserved plinth of the demolished stone chapel

***

On the morning of 14 August (O.S. 1), 1917, the former Tsar and his family left the Alexander Palace for the last time. They exited from the Semicircular Hall of the palace, and travelled by car to the Alexandrovskaya Station – the most remote of the three railway stations in Tsarskoye Selo.

Two special trains – which were provided by the leader of the Provisional Government Alexander Kerensky – awaited the Imperial Family and their retinue at the station. The train was a luxurious and comfortable wagons-lits of the International Sleeping Car Company – not the sort of train one would expect to transport “prisoners”.

The train featured a restaurant car stocked with wines from the Imperial cellar, and baggage compartments filled with trunks and suitcases, favourite rugs, pictures and knickknacks collected from the Imperial Family’s private apartments in the Alexander Palace .

In their portable jewel chests, the Empress and her daughters brought personal gems worth at least a million rubles ($500,000 USD).

In addition to the ladies and gentlemen of their suite, the Imperial Family was accompanied by two valets, six chambermaids, ten footmen, three cooks, four assistant cooks, a butler, a wine steward, a nurse, a clerk, a barber, and two pet spaniels.

All were under the watchful eye of Colonel Eugene Kobylinsky (1875-1927) and his guards, who also rode in the same train as the Imperial Family. Most of Kobylinsky’s 330 soldiers and 6 officers followed in a second train.

Source: Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. Massie (1967)

The trains departed the Alexandrovsky Station at 5:50 am, on the morning of 14 August (O.S. 1), 1917, bound for the town of Tobolsk in Siberia. Less than a year later, Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra and their five children would accept their martyrdom in Ekaterinburg.

PHOTO: In 2018, a memorial plaque in memory of the Imperial family’s
departure into exile was unveiled at the Alexandrovskaya Railway Station

The Alexandrovskaya Station has survived to the present day. It is situated 5.7 km from the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo (Pushkin). It offers a couple of sites which will be of interest to any one who shares an interest in the life and reign of Russia’s last tsar and his family.

On 11th August 2011, a memorial in the form of a cross was installed bearing the image of Emperor Nicholas II, on the preserved plinth of the stone chapel which had been dismantled by the Bolsheviks in 1949. The inscription in Russian reads “Emperor Nicholas II. Grateful Russia”. On 14th April 2021, the parish of the Church of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God in the village of Aleksandrovskaya, made a formal request to the Committee for Property Relations of St. Petersburg, to hand over the foundation of the chapel. The parish has plans to reconstruct the memorial chapel.

On 14th August 2018, a memorial plaque in memory of Emperor Nicholas II and his family was unveiled on the outside wall of railway station building in the village of Alexandrovskaya. The English translation of the plaque reads:

14 August 1917
at 5:50 am
Sovereign Nikolai Alexandrovich
his family, and retinue
were sent into exile by the Provisional Government
From the Alexandrovskaya Station to Tobolsk

The Alexandrovskaya Station can be reached by commuter train from the Baltic Railway Station in St. Petersburg. If you are visiting Tsarskoye Selo (Pushkin), it can be reached by bus from the main station or by taxi.

© Paul Gilbert. 19 April 2021

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