Act of historical justice: restored bust of Nicholas II returned to Livadia

PHOTO: the restored bronze bust of Emperor Nicholas II, installed and consecrated on 27th September 2022, on the grounds of the Church of the Exaltation of the Cross, Livadia

On the morning of 27th September, a restored bronze bust of Emperor Nicholas II was unveiled and consecrated on the grounds of the Church of the Exaltation of the Cross – the home church of the Russian Imperial Family, at Livadia Palace in Crimea. The event is dedicated to the 111th anniversary of the Grand Livadia Palace.

The sculptural image was discovered at Livadia in 1994 by Oleg Anatolyevich Permyakov, a representative of the Foundation for Slavic Literature and Culture. Due to the extensive damage, which consisted of extensive mold and bullet holes, Permyakov was unaware of the identity of the bust, however, he was convinced that it was that of an important statesman from the Tsarist era.

He contacted People’s Artist of Russia Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Klykov (1939-2006) who, after conducting a comparative analysis of historic photographs and portraits of the Russian Imperial Family from the late 19th to early 20th centuries, Klykov came to the conclusion that this was a bust of the last Russian Emperor Nicholas II.

The restoration of the bust was financed by the Russian philanthropist, and honorary member of the board of trustees of the Public International Foundation for Slavic Literature and Culture Sergei Kozubenko. Klykov removed the mold and repaired the damage inflicted by Bolshevik bullets.

PHOTO: detail of the restored bronze bust of Emperor Nicholas II, installed and consecrated on 27th September 2022, on the grounds of the Church of the Exaltation of the Cross, Livadia

In 2003, a new bust was cast from the restored bust, and installed on the grounds of the Church of the Holy Martyrs Faith, Hope, Love in Kursk. The bust marked the historic visit and stay of Emperor Nicholas II and members of the Imperial Family at the large military maneuvers, held on the outskirts of the city in August-September 1902.

A plaster copy of the bust was also installed in the central columned hall of the Fund for Slavic Literature and Culture in Moscow.

According to the restoration plan of the sculptor Vyacheslav Klykov, the bust had to return to its’ historical place, the Livadia Palace, the residence of Emperor Nicholas II, situated on the southern coast of Crimea. This return was supposed to symbolize the restoration of the connection between the generations of Russians, broken as a result of the revolution and the Civil War. To become a symbol of repentance and the return of modern Russia to its historical roots, the origins of its cultural identity.

Sadly, the great sculptor did not live to see the realization of his plan. Klykov’s idea was implemented by his friend, Sergey Pavlovich Kozubenko, who organized the return of the bust to Livadia Palace.

PHOTO: Sergei Kozubenko (left), and Oleg Anatolyevich Permyakov (second from right), at the unveiling of the restored bust of Emperor Nicholas II on the grounds of the Church of the Exaltation of the Cross, Livadia,

The opening ceremony was attended by the Minister of Culture of the Republic of Crimea Tatyana Manezhina , noting the importance of a respectful attitude to the historical and cultural heritage of the country.

“Each monument of history and culture embodies a tangible connection between the past and the present, which allows for the study of national history for future generations. It is especially important and significant that public organizations and individuals take part in the preservation and popularization of Russia’s cultural heritage. I am sure that our joint efforts will contribute to the preservation of the traditions and rich spiritual heritage of Russia,” the minister stated.

PHOTO: view of the Church of the Exaltation of the Cross, which is connected by a gallery to the palace

Tatyana Manezhina also expressed her gratitude to the staff of the Republican Museum, representatives of the Public International Fund for Slavic Culture and Literature, personally to Sergei Kozubenko for his initiative and assistance in finding and restoring the lost and damaged sculptural image of the former owner of the Livadia Palace, Emperor Nicholas II.

The consecration of the bust was performed by Nestor Bishop of Yalta. The event was attended by Sergey Kozubenko, Head of the Yalta city administration Yanina Pavlenko , local government officials, members of the clergy, and the general public.

VIDEO: unveiling and consecration of the restored bronze bust of Emperor Nicholas II on the grounds of the Church of the Exaltation of the Cross, Livadia. Click to watch.

A total of four monuments to Emperor Nicholas II have now been installed in Crimea: two on the grounds of Livadia Palace, one in Evpatoria and one in Alushta.

© Paul Gilbert. 27 September 2022

Livadia Palace marks 100th anniversary as a museum

PHOTO: facade, main entrance and garden of Livadia Palace

July marks the 100th anniversary of the opening of Livadia Palace Museum. The former residence of Emperor Nicholas II and his family in Crimea, was opened to the public as a museum in 1922, however, it closed 5 years later due to a lack of visitors.

Today, the “White Pearl of Crimea”, is framed by gardens filled with the aroma of roses… classical melodies unobtrusively pour from the speakers… a queue of visitors wait patiently at the ticket booth to purchase tickets, all eager to see how the last Russian emperor and his family lived, with their own eyes. According to staff estimates, the palace today receives an average of 500 guests daily.

A similar scenario played out 100 years ago, only instead of tourists, it was students and Red Guards who roamed the halls and rooms of the palace. Thanks to archival documents, we know that in 1923 the Livadia Palace was visited by 30 thousand people, while nearby Alupka Palace, for example, received only half that number.

A hundred years ago, there were actually two Livadia palaces available for visiting – the Maly or Small wooden palace, which belonged to Alexander III (it was demolished after the Great Patriotic War), and the new Grand White Palace (built on the site of the Bolshoi or Large wooden palace). In the Small Livadia Palace only 3 rooms were open to visitors, while in the new Grand White Palace 10 rooms were open to visitors: 2 downstairs and 8 upstairs. It should be noted, that at this time, the palace-museum would have still been left intact, although it is known that some items were stolen during the Revolution and Civil War.

The museum then was only open to receive visitors four times a week, from 3 pm to 6 pm. And although visitors paid an entrance fee, sometimes the money received was not even enough to cover the salaries of the museum’s few employees.

On 30th April 1918, German troops entered Livadia, and immediately proceeded to plunder the palace.

In 1922, the Museum of the Life of the Romanov Royal Family, opened in Livadia Palace. During the 1920s, the Soviets used Livadia Palace solely for propaganda purposes: the people could see what luxurious interiors the Imperial family lived in, the expensive materials the furniture were made of, thus causing indignation among many.

On 21st December, 1920, Lenin signed a decree according to which “the palaces of the former tsars and grand dukes should be used as sanatoriums and health resorts for workers and peasants.” In 1925, the first sanatorium was opened in Livadia Palace, offering free treatment of peasants.

The Soviet poet Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsky (1893-1930), who visited here in 1927, wrote the poem “Miracles”, in which a key line reads: “In the royal palace, now live sanatorium men.”

It was in the same year, that the museum was closed with a sign on the main entrance “closed due to lack of interest among visitors”.

After that, the question arose about the distribution of the contents ​​of the Livadia Palace: they were simply transferred to other Crimean museums. For example, a number of carpets were given to the Palace of the Emir of Bukhara (1880-1914) in Yalta, while other items of decorative, applied and fine arts – to the Alupka Palace and the Kroshitsky Art Museum in Sevastopol. The dolls and toys of the Imperial children were given to orphans, while the curtains which adorned the imperial bedchambers and other rooms of the palace were made into clothes for the poor. Sadly, most of the historical furnishings have been lost, and it was only in the 1990s, that some pieces of the furniture were returned to the palace, and are now part of the museum.

During the Second World War, a ceremony marking the successful completion of the German Crimean Campaign (1941–1942), with the capture of Sevastopol by the German 11th Army under the command of General Erich von Manstein, and Manstein’s promotion to the rank of Generalfeldmarschall (field marshal), was held in the garden of Livadia Palace on 6th July 1942. Participants included officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers who were awarded the German “Ritterkreuz” (Knight’s Cross) and the “Deutsches Kreuz in Gold” (German Cross in Gold).

Some 70 years later, Livadia Palace underwent an extensive restoration and received the status of a state museum. In November 1993, Livadia Palace received the status of a museum. On 16th July 1994, the exposition The Romanovs in Livadia was opened in the former private rooms of the Imperial family on the second floor of the palace.

Today, Livadia Palace is the most popular museum in Crimea. The first floor of the palace-museum is dedicated to the famous Yalta Conference, attended by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, on 4th–11th February 1945.

The permanent exposition dedicated to Nicholas II and his family in Livadia is located on the 2nd floor of the palace, in 16 rooms, each of them featuring original elements and details.

PHOTO: the Emperor’s favourite room – his study

PHOTO: handmade wall carpet gifted to Nicholas II by the Shah of Persia in 1913

PHOTO: very few items from the Tsar’s Study have survived to the present

Visitors can now see the Emperor’s favourite room – his study, the main highlight of which is a handmade wall carpet depicting Nicholas II, Alexandra Feodorovna and Tsesarevich Alexei, a gift to the family in 1913 by Ahmad Shah Qajar of Persia (1898-1930) – in honour of the 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty. After the 1917 Revolution, many items from the palace were stolen, including this carpet, which ended up abroad. In 1983, a collector bought it at an auction in Germany and donated it to the palace 10 years later.

PHOTO: Empress Alexandra Feodorovna’s study

Visitors to the study of the Empress, will find a cozy, homely atmosphere as opposed to a work place: for example, family photographs are displayed on the table in frames, a sewing machine is silent in the corner, and Easter decorations with imperial engraving are hung behind the glass of the sideboard.

PHOTO: music room in Livadia Palace

In the music room there is a Becker grand piano, in which the Empress often played with her daughters. Today, performances of the Tauride Blagovest Chamber Choir are held in this room.

In addition, is a small family dining room with authentic dishes and utensils of the Imperial family, a classroom for the grand duchesses, the imperial bedroom, the children’s rooms, a library, among others.

PHOTO: Small Family Dining Room

PHOTO: the former bedroom of the grand duchesses

Museum staff like to draw the attention of visitors to the original pieces which have been preserved to this day, emphasizing their own disbelief at how some of the exhibits managed to survive to this day. For example, the Murano glass chandelier in the waiting room on the 1st floor, which has been hanging there since 1912. Just like the chandelier in the reception room, made of bronze and glass. And also fireplaces, mirrors and pieces of furniture.

PHOTO: an original Murano glass chandelier, 1912

The palace also features a solarium on the roof, where the Imperial family enjoyed the sun and breathtaking views of the Black Sea. A narrow staircase leads to the roof, and in the time of Nicholas II it was possible to reach it by a tiny lift (elevator), which was restored several years ago.

PHOTO: the solarium on the roof of the palace offers views of the Black Sea

Interesting facts about Livadia Palace

It is known that the Imperial family arrived in Livadia with their children on 5th September 1909. It was during this visit, starting from 27th October, that Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna met with the architect Nikolai Petrovich Krasnov (1864-1939), Yalta’s most fashionable architect, on numerous occasions, to discuss in detail the design of their new white palace, and the decoration of its halls and other rooms. The August couple approved the design on 12th December, just 4 days before leaving Livadia for St. Petersburg.

The old wooden Bolshoi or Grand Palace, the residence built in the 1860s for Emperor Alexander II, was demolished in 1910, to make way for a new stone palace, which would serve as the residence of Russia’s last emperor and his family during their visits to Crimea.

The palace was built in a remarkably short time span of 17 months, at a cost of about 4 million gold rubles, paid for by Nicholas II. The palace was inaugurated on 11th September 1911. Some 2,500 workers worked around the clock. At night, the large-scale construction site was illuminated by many torches. After the construction was completed, the walls of the palace were covered with a special chemical composition that protected the stone from weathering and pollution.

A power station was built nearby, generating electricity for the entire estate. The palace also featured two types of heating: fireplaces and central water heating. The palace was also equipped with telephones and a lift for the Empress. It is interesting to note, that it was thanks to a modern system of reinforced concrete ceilings, which prevented the destruction of the palace from a strong earthquake in 1927.

PHOTO: Italian Courtyard

PHOTO: Arab Courtyard

Krasnov had constructed a comfortable, spacious palace. The palace was built in the Italian Renaissance style – the style was personally chosen by Nicholas II. None of the four façades of the palace resembles the other. The new Imperial residence featured 116 rooms, one large courtyard [the Italian Courtyard, where Nicholas II and his family were often photographed] and three small courtyards, as well as a number of outbuildings.

While the palace was built as a summer residence for Nicholas II and his family, they only stayed here four times: twice in the fall – in 1911 and 1913, and twice in the spring – in 1912 and 1914, each time staying for several months at a time. On 12th June 1914, the Imperial family left Livadia, not suspecting that they were saying goodbye to her forever. On 1st August, Germany declared war on Russia.

The Imperial family would arrive on the Imperial Train at Sevastopol, where they boarded the Imperial Yacht Shtandart/Standart, and sailed along the southern coast of Crimea to Yalta, and from there by *motorcar to Livadia. [*The Emperor maintained His Imperial Majesty’s Own Garage at Livadia, one of four in Russia, which housed his collection of motorcars].

Click HERE to VIEW 2 vintage newsreels The Holy Tsar in Russia. Livadia, 1902-1914 – duration: 18 minutes each.

Today, the Livadia Palace and Park ensemble occupies more than 36 hectares, in addition to the Grand White Palace, it includes the Svitsky building, the house of the Minister of the Imperial Court Count Vladimir Frederiks (1838-1927), the Church of the Exaltation of the Cross, and a picturesque park with preserved structures (arbors, fountains) from the tsarist period.

PHOTO: view of the Church of the Exaltation of the Cross (left)

On 2nd November [O.S. 20 October] 1894 – Emperor Alexander III died in the Small Palace. His early death at the age of 49, was the result of terminal kidney disease (nephritis). A requiem was held for the Emperor in the Church of the Exaltation of the Cross.

It was also on this day, that Tsesarevich Nicholas Alexandraovich Romanov ascended the throne as Russia’s last emperor and tsar, pledging his oath of allegiance to Russia in the palace church. In addition, the holy righteous John of Kronstadt anointed Princess Alice of Hesse in this church, and thus became the Orthodox faithful Grand Duchess and future Empress Alexandra Feodorovna.

During his stay in Livadia, in the autumn of 1900, Nicholas II became gravely ill, with what proved to be a rather serious form of typhoid. Despite being pregnant for the fourth time and in a lot of pain, Alexandra nursed him back to health, six months later, in the Spring of 1901.

PHOTO: view of the garden, main facade and entrance to Livadia Palace

The entrance to the summer imperial residence is guarded by two marble lions – although they do not have the traditional lush mane and look more like Egyptian sphinxes. At the main entrance to the palace and in the famous Italian Courtyard, there are white marble benches with winged lions on the armrests. These benches were brought here from Venice. Also, the Istria fireplace was brought from Venice, which is located in the Main lobby of the palace.

Two original sculptures can also be seen in the White Hall. The first is Penelope, the symbol of marital fidelity, the wife of Odysseus. Penelope was purchased by the inhabitants of Odessa as a gift to Empress Maria Alexandrovna (grandmother of Nicholas II), on her first visit to the Livadia estate in 1863. The second figure is a chimera, or satyr, a collective image from antiquity.

The historical park has preserved trees planted more than a century ago. It is decorated with Turkish gazebo, Ruschuk column, marble fountains and benches.

PHOTO: bust-monument of Emperor Nicholas II

PHOTO: monument to Emperor Alexander III, installed on the site of the old Bolshoi Palace

On 19th May 2015, a bust-monument of Emperor Nicholas II was installed at the main entrance to the Livadia Palace. It is made according to the model of the sculptor A. A. Appolonov from artificial stone and bronzed. The pedestal is made of marble.

On 18th November 2017, in the presence of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, a monument to Emperor Alexander III was unveiled in the park of the Livadia Palace – on the site where the Bolshoi or Large wooden palace once stood.

PHOTO: Chapel of the Holy Royal Martyrs

On 22nd September 2013, as part of the celebrations marking the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty, the Chapel of the Holy Royal Martyrs was consecrated. The chapel which is situated at the entrance to Livadia Palace was erected in honour of the 150th anniversary of the Exaltation of the Cross Church of the Imperial family at Livadia and in memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs. A magnificent mosaic tile icon depicting the Holy Royal Martyrs dominates the tiny chapel interior. The chapel is open to all comers, liturgies are held on major Orthodox holidays.

PHOTO: Nicholas II Conference in the White Hall at Livadia Palace, 20-22 October 2019

Between 20-22 October 2019, the international conferenceCrimea and the Fate of the Romanov Dynasty. The Beginning and End of the Reign of Emperor Nicholas II,’ opened in the White Hall of Livadia Palace. The conference was attended by leading Russian historians, publicists, archivists and writers. The objective of the conference was to discuss the truth about the Tsar’s family and the and the achievements that Russia made during the reign of Nicholas II. The international conference was timed to the 125th anniversary of the accession to Orthodoxy of Princess Alix of Hesse-Darmstadt – the future Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and the 100th anniversary of the escape of members of the Russian Imperial House from Crimea. In addition, this year marks 125 years since the death of Emperor Alexander III in Livadia. Crimea played a crucial role in the fate of the Romanovs, who played an important role in the development of the peninsula.

© 25 July 2022. Paul Gilbert

Nicholas II’s battle with typhoid in 1900

PHOTO: Emperor Nicholas II recovering from typhoid at Livadia, December 1900

During Tsarist times, typhoid, or “spotted fever”, affected every one from paupers to emperors—the often fatal illness did not discriminate. This intestinal infection caused by a specific type of Salmonella bacterium was a frequent guest in the imperial residences. And all because of poor sanitation. For example, the kitchen of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, only stopped taking water directly from the Neva River in 1868, while mineral filters and urns for boiling water were only installed in the palace in the 1920s! And we are talking here only of the water used by the Imperial Family: servants, valets, stokers and porters lived in, and bustled in and out of, the Winter Palace. The common folk and acquaintances that came to visit the Imperial Family in their tiny rooms had a very careless attitude to personal hygiene and as a result, the palace was teeming with lice, bedbugs, cockroaches and, of course, mice.

It is not surprising then that under these conditions that Empress Maria Alexandrovna, the spouse of Emperor Alexander II, their son Alexander Alexandrovich (future Alexander II) and the latter’s daughter Xenia Alexandrovna all caught typhoid fever.

During his stay in Livadia[1] in the autumn of 1900, Nicholas II became gravely ill with typhoid. Initially, doctors were afraid to diagnose the disease for a long time and then they argued about what medication to prescribe.

The Emperor fell ill with what proved to be a rather serious from of typhoid. The Empress had a great horror of the illness, but a crisis always found her self-possessed and resourceful. She nursed the Emperor herself, even doing the night nursing, and acted as his private secretary when he was able to attend to papers, transmitting his decisions to his Ministers. The Empress wrote to her sister, Princess Louis [aka Victoria of Battenberg], at the time:

“Nicky really was an angel of patience during his wearisome illness, never complaining, always ready to do all one bid him. His old valet and I nursed him. The shock of his illness and feeling myself necessary gave me new strength, as I had been very wretched before. I rebelled at a nurse being taken and we managed perfectly ourselves.”

Orchie [Alexandra’s old nurse] would wash his face and hands in the morning. She would bring the Empress her meals, where she would take them while resting on the sofa in her husband’s room. She suffered from head and heartache, the latter from nerves and many sleepless nights. When Nicholas began getting better, she read to him.

He first had a digestive upset on 22nd October 1900, and almost immediately the Emperor’s temperature rose to 39-40 degrees Celsius (102-104 degrees Fahrenheit). The high temperature and severe headache, coupled with food poisoning, continued until 12th November.

PHOTO: Alexandra Feodorovna standing behind her husband, who is seated in a wheelchair while recovering from typhoid. Nicholas II is seated in front of a table, wearing a dressing gown, and a rug placed over his legs. Livadia, Crimea. December 1900

The Emperor actually received no treatment. Despite being pregnant for the fourth time and in a lot of pain, Alexandra nursed him back to health, rarely leaving his side. While Alexandra Feodorovna was the one who looked after him, his sister Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna, recorded her brother’s illness and recovery:

“Poor Nicky is lying in bed, he didn’t sleep at all at night because of terrible pains in his back. In the morning his temperature was 38.2 – during the day 38.7. His eyes are tired and pale! [Dr.] Girsh says that it’s influenza! Thank God there’s nothing in the lungs, or in general anywhere else. Poor Alix [Alexandra Feodorovna] – she looks very tired.” – Xenia’s diary, 27th October 1900

“Later on I drove to Livadia and looked in on Nicky for a minute. The back of his neck hurts terribly, and he doesn’t know where to turn his head. All the pain from his back and legs has gone upwards, and he is suffering terribly. Poor Alix has forgotten about her own sickness and is moving around more. Girsh is adamant, that it isn’t typhoid (we asked him). Girsh asked Nicky to call someone else, to put everyone’s mind at rest – it was decided to call for [Dr.] Tikhonov.” – Xenia’s diary, 29th October 1900

“We met Tikhonov, who told us that several symptoms of typhoid had developed, and that they were almost sure that it was typhoid! At Livadia we immediately questioned Girsh. It’s astounding that influenza should suddenly turn into typhoid!

“At Livadia we immediately questioned Girsh. It’s astounding that influenza should suddenly turn into typhoid! With Alix’s permission Professor Popov was sent for; we had lunch alone together downstairs; a little later [Count] Fredericks arrived, tearing his hair and saying he was in a terrible position, that everyone wanted news, while he was not allowed to tell anyone anything. He wanted us to persuade Alix to allow a bulletin to be published, which we were able to do. She agreed that there is nothing worse than trying to conceal things! We telegraphed poor Mama. Thank God Alix is so calm.” – Xenia’s diary, 31st October 1900

“Thank the Lord, Nicky had an excellent night – he slept until morning, his temperature was 38.7 and he felt well. Alix called me to see Nicky – he was in remarkably good spirits, and chatted and joked. Alix was also in a good mood, having slept well. They didn’t want to let me go, but in the end I left of my own accord, as he needs complete rest and had been talking to much.

“All the unnecessary furniture has been removed from the bedroom, and will be taken into Alix’s drawing room this afternoon. Alix is now sleeping in another bed, at least the doctors have achieved that much.” – Xenia’s diary, 1st November 1900

“They are not happy that Nicky’s temperature is so low 36°, but the pulse is good at 66. They are afraid of a haemorrhage, God preserve us! It’s so terrifying, help us God, save our Nicky!” – 13th November 1900

PHOTO: Nicholas II recovering from typhoid fever, with his sister Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna. Livadia, Crimea. December 1900.

Against this background, discussions about who should succeed Nicholas II, in the event that he should die. The Empress attempted to persuade her husband to change the Laws of Succession to allow females to inherit the throne in the absence of any male heirs in order for their four-year-old daughter Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna [2] to inherit the empire, as opposed to her uncle, Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich. Ultimately, these changes did not take place.

After 13th November, the Tsar’s temperature started coming down and on 30th November, for the first time, Nicholas spent half an hour on his balcony. “It was sunny, warm and still… Thank God my typhoid was mild and I didn’t suffer at all during the whole time. I had a strong appetite and now my weight is increasing noticeably every day…”

Nicholas recovered six months later, in May-June 1901, however, little Olga came down with typhoid. Alexandra would nurse their eldest daughter through her illness.

On the 24th November 1900 Nicholas wrote to his mother:

“About my little wife I can only say that she was my guardian angel, looked after me better than any sister of mercy!”

NOTES:

[1] Up until 1911, Nicholas II and his family stayed in the Small Livadia Palace during their visits to Crimea, after which they lived in the iconic white stone palace, which was constructed on the site of the Large Livadia Palace. The Small Palace survived until the Great Patriotic War (1941-45).

[2] The Succession Prospects of Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna (1895-1918) by Carolyn Harris, published in Canadian Slavic Papers, Volume 54, 2012 – Issue 1-2

© Paul Gilbert. 6 February 2021

On this day in 1894: Nicholas II ascended the throne

PHOTO: Tsesarevich and Grand Duke Nicholas Alexandrovich. 1894

On this day – 2nd November [O.S. 20th October] 1894, Tsesarevich and Grand Duke Nicholas Alexandrovich ascended the throne as Russia’s last emperor and tsar.

Nicholas was only 26 years old when his father, Alexander III, died suddenly after a long and serious illness, at the age of 49.

It was on this historic day, that Nicholas Alexandrovich inherited the throne. Government officials, courtiers and troops of the Imperial Russian Army, among others, all took the oath of allegiance to their new emperor.

In the Church of the Exaltation of the Cross [adjacent to Livadia Palace], Nicholas pledged his oath of allegiance to Russia solemnly promising to protect the autocracy firmly and unswervingly, like his late father.

NOTE: The Church of the Exaltation of the Cross has survived to this day – PG

PHOTO: the Church of the Exaltation of the Cross [adjacent to Livadia Palace]

In the same year, 1894, Nicholas Alexandrovich married Princess Alice of Hesse-Darmstadt (Empress Alexandra Fedorovna) in St. Petersburg.

During the reign of Nicholas II, the Russian Empire reached an unprecedented level of economic development. However, this time was also marked by the growth of revolutionary sentiments.

His Imperial Majesty Sovereign Emperor Nicholas II reigned over the Russian Empire for more than 22 years. He abdicated on 15th March 1917 (O.S. 2nd March) 1917.

Some historians argue that the act of abdication was invalid for two reasons: one, because it was signed in pencil, violating all the necessary legal and procedural methods and format, and thus had no legal force; and two, because the instrument of abdication was never officially published by the Imperial Senate.

Regardless, as God’s Anointed, Nicholas II could not be displaced during his lifetime. Since the will of God was nowhere manifest, neither in the naming of his brother Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich to the throne, nor in the Tsar’s signing of the instrument of abdication, his status as Tsar remained inviolate and unassailable. He remained Emperor until the day of his death and martyrdom on 17th July 1918.

In 2018, a commemorative medal was issued, marking the 124th anniversary of Nicholas II’s ascension to the throne in 1894. The medal was the first of The Romanovs. Golden Collection to be minted by the Imperial Mint in Moscow.

© Paul Gilbert. 2 November 2021

Street in Crimea named in honour of Nicholas II

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A street leading to the Livadia Palace has been named in honour of Emperor Nicholas II. It is the first street in Russia named in honour of Russia’s last sovereign.

No. 1 Nicholas II Street is home to the Embassy of the Russian Empire, a multimedia project that features three exhibitions: Crimea in the fate of Russia; Nicholas II Living Pictures and The Holy Warriors of Russia.

Construction on Livadia Palace began on 21 January 1910, and after 17 months of construction, the palace was inaugurated on 11 September 1911. Emperor Nicholas II spent about 4 million gold rubles on the palace.

The Imperial family visited Livadia in the fall of 1911 and 1913 and in the spring of 1912 and 1914.

© Paul Gilbert. 5 January 2019

Watercolours of Livadia Palace and Gardens

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Monument to Nikolai Krasnov (1864-1939), unveiled on 9 December in Belgrade, Serbia

This month marks the 155th anniversary of the birth (5 December O.S. 23 November 1864) and the 80th anniversary of the death (8 December 1939) of the famous Russian-Serbian architect Nikolai Petrovich Krasnov.

In 1919, the architect emigrated with his family from the Crimea, lived in Malta for several years, before settling in Belgrade in 1922. For the next seventeen years, Krasnov served as an inspector of the Architectural Division. He left a significant mark in the architecture of present-day Serbia. To this day, the Serbian people deeply revere the memory of the Yalta architect, the architect most famous for Livadia Palace, the Crimea residence of Nicholas II and his family.

On 9th December 2019, celebrations were held in the Serbian capital, which included the opening of the Architect Krasnov exhibition and the unveiling of a monument to Nikolai Krasnov. As part of the Russian delegation, the Livadia Palace Museum took part in the celebrations.

The monument to Krasnov by the sculptor Neboisha Savovich Nes, was unveiled in the park of the Archive of Serbia. The sculptor captured the eminent architect sitting at his desk working on the design of the Archive building.

Krasnov died on 8 December 1939, he was buried in the Russian sector of the Belgrade New Cemetery. The architect’s grave is located near the monument of ‘Russian Glory’, the first monument in the world erected in honour of Emperor Nicholas II and soldiers of the Russian Imperial Army who died in the First World War. 

*  * *

Watercolours of Livadia Palace painted by the famous palace architect himself
Nikolai Petrovich Krasnov (1864-1939)

Livadia must have been beautiful when it was an Imperial residence before the First World War. Construction on a new white limestone palace began on 21 January 1910, and after 17 months of construction, the palace was inaugurated on 11 September 1911. Emperor Nicholas II spent about 4 million gold rubles on the palace. In November 1911 Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna celebrated her 16th birthday at Livadia.

The Imperial family visited Livadia in the fall of 1911 and 1913 and in the spring of 1912 and 1914.

Sadly, on 30th April 30 1918, German troops entered Livadia, who immediately began to plunder the palace. 

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Northern facade of the Livadia Palace
Watercolour by Nikolai Petrovich Krasnov (1864-1939)

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Northern facade of the Livadia Palace
Watercolour by Nikolai Petrovich Krasnov (1864-1939)

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Iron grille gate leading to the Italian courtyard of the Livadia Palace
Watercolour by Nikolai Petrovich Krasnov (1864-1939)

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Gallery of the Italian Courtyard in the Livadia Palace
Watercolour by Nikolai Petrovich Krasnov (1864-1939)

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Gallery of the Italian Courtyard in the Livadia Palace
Watercolour by Nikolai Petrovich Krasnov (1864-1939)

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Corner of the park of the Livadia estate
Watercolour by Nikolai Petrovich Krasnov (1864-1939)

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Corner of the park of the Livadia estate
Watercolour by Nikolai Petrovich Krasnov (1864-1939)

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Arch of blooming roses in the park of the Livadia estate
Watercolour by Nikolai Petrovich Krasnov (1864-1939)

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Laurel gazebo in the park of the Livadia estate
Watercolour by Nikolai Petrovich Krasnov (1864-1939)

© Paul Gilbert. 16 December 2019

‘The Holy Tsar in Crimea’ – vintage newsreels from Livadia, 1902-1914

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In 2018, a DVD entitled ‘Святой Царь в Крыму (Ливадия, 1902-1914)’ / Tr. ‘The Holy Tsar in Russia. Livadia, 1902-1914)’ was issued in Russia. The release of the DVD was timed to the 100th anniversary of the death of Emperor Nicholas II, on 17th July 1918.

The 36-minute DVD is a compilation of 24 newsreels, all filmed at Livadia, the Imperial estate and residence of the last Tsar and his family. All 24 newsreels are accompanied by pre-revolutionary marches and waltzes.

We see vintage newsreel footage of Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, and their five children, set against the backdrop of the old wooden palaces in Livadia, and after 1911, set against the backdrop of Nikolai Krasnov’s elegant white Crimea granite palace Neo-Renaissance-style, which has survived to this day.

The vintage newsreels feature a variety of events at Livadia, including the celebration of the birthday of Empress Alexandra Fedorovna and Holy Easter, White Flower Day, parades and receptions. They are surrounded by officers, Court officials, and members of their extended family, including the Grand Dukes and Grand Duchesses, Count Frederiks, Anna Vyrubova, among many others.

The last time the family of Nicholas II visited in Livadia, was in the spring of 1914. They were due to return in the autumn, however, the outbreak of the First World War on 1st August put an end to this visit. 

‘The Holy Tsar in Russia. Livadia, 1902-1914)’ – Part I (duration 18 minutes

‘The Holy Tsar in Russia. Livadia, 1902-1914)’ – Part II (duration 18 minutes

© Paul Gilbert. 27 October 2019

Livadia Hosts Nicholas II Conference, 20-22 October 2019

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Earlier this week, Livadia Palace was the venue for the international conference ‘Crimea and the Fate of the Romanov Dynasty. The Beginning and End of the Reign of Emperor Nicholas II.’

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Prince George Mikhailovich seated under a portrait of Emperor Nicholas II

The conference was attended by leading Russian historians, publicists, archivists and writers. Several descendants of the Romanov dynasty were also present, including Prince George Mikhailovich.

The objective of the conference was to discuss the truth about the Tsar’s family and the and the achievements that Russia made during the reign of Nicholas II.

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Prince George Mikhailovich in the Working Study of Nicholas II

The international conference was timed to the 125th anniversary of the accession to Orthodoxy of Princess Alix of Hesse-Darmstadt – the future Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and the 100th anniversary of the escape of members of the Russian Imperial House from Crimea.

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Prince George Mikhailovich seated at the desk of Nicholas II in the Tsar’s Working Study

In addition, this year marks 125 years since the death of Emperor Alexander III in Livadia. Crimea played a crucial role in the fate of the Romanovs, who played an important role in the development of the peninsula.

© Paul Gilbert. 24 October 2019

Unique Photo of the Old Wooden Grand Palace, Livadia

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Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna, Grand Palace, Livadia. Autumn 1909

This vintage photo depicts Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna at Livadia in the early 20th century. It is set against the old wooden Grand Palace, built in 1861 for Emperor Alexander II and his family, by the architect Ippolit Antonovich Monighetti (1819-1878).

The Church of the Exaltation of the Cross (also by Monighetti) and bell tower can be seen to the right. A gallery connected the church to the palace. The church was small, because it was designed only for the imperial family, and was used by three respective emperors: Alexander II, Alexander III and Nicholas II.

It is known that the Imperial family arrived in Livadia with their children on 5th September 1909. It was during this visit, starting from 27th October, that Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna met with the architect Nikolai Petrovich Krasnov (1864-1939) on numerous occasions, to discuss in detail the design of their new white palace, and the decoration of its halls and other rooms. The August couple approved the design on 12th December, just 4 days before leaving Livadia for St. Petersburg.

The old wooden Grand Palace was demolished in 1910, to make way for a new Italian Neo-Renaissance style stone palace, which would serve as the residence of Nicholas II and his family during their visits to Crimea. The Imperial family visited their new white palace in the fall of 1911 and 1913 and in the spring of 1912 and 1914.

© Paul Gilbert. 20 October 2019