The fate of the gilded bronze plaque to Nicholas II at Tamerlane Gate

PHOTO: detail of the plaque to Nicholas II at Tamerlane Gate. 1898

The Trans-Caspian Railway follows the path of the Silk Road through much of western Central Asia. It was built by the Russian Empire during its expansion into Central Asia in the 19th century. Construction on the railway began in 1879, and originally served a military purpose of facilitating the Imperial Russian Army in actions against the local resistance to their rule.

The railway had a huge impact on the Russian economy, permitting a massive increase in the amount of cotton exported from the region. This increased from 873,092 pudy in 1888 to 3,588,025 in 1893. Also sugar, kerosene, wood, iron and construction material were imported into the area. These rising trade figures were used by Governor-General Nikolai Rozenbakh (1836-1901) to argue for the extension to Tashkent.

In 1895, Emperor Nicholas II issued an Imperial Decree, ordering that the line be extended to Tashkent and Margelan. Thus, the Tashkent Railway connecting the Tran-Caspian Military Railway with the network of other Russian and European railways was completed in 1906.

PHOTO: Alexander Ivanovich Ursati posing next to the plaque to Nicholas II. 1898

Alexander Ivanovich Ursati (1848 -1918) was appointed to the post of the head of the construction of the Samarkand-Andijan line. Ursati was a hereditary nobleman, a graduate of the St. Petersburg Institute of Railway Engineers, and outstanding engineer-tracker of pre-revolutionary Russia.

The new railway line passed along the ancient caravan route through the Nurata mountain range, along the narrow part of the Ilan-Uta gorge through the Jizzakh passage or through the so-called Tamerlane Gate.

PHOTO: plaque to Nicholas II at Tamerlane Gate. 1898

Upon completion of the construction of a highway which ran parralell to the railway track, Ursati ordered a commemorative bronze plaque and mounted with a double-headed eagle from one of the Ural factories. The inscription read: “Nicholas II in 1895 ordered construction of the railway. 1898 completed.” Both the text on the plaque and the double-headed eagle were gilded. It was installed on the steep northern slope of the Nurata rock, directly above two Arabic inscriptions carved into the rock: the first dates back to 1425, and the second to 1571.

In 1899, for the successful completion of the construction of the railway ahead of schedule, Ursati was promoted to acting state councilor. Thus, according to the Table of Ranks, he became a general.

In recognition of Alexander Ivanovich in Central Asia, one of the stations was named Ursat’evskaya (renamed Khavastsince in 1963, ). In 1899, Ursati left his mark in Tashkent, with the construction of one of the most beautiful churches of the city – the Church of the Annunciation, popularly called the Railway Church, on the station square of the city. Following the 1917 Revolution, the church was closed, and demolished in the 1920s.

PHOTO: Tamerlane Gate as it looks today

While the two ancient Arabic inscriptions carved into the rock at Tamerlane Gate have survived to the present day, the bronze and gilded plaque to Nicholas II was destroyed by the Bolsheviks. The railway became one of the most important means of communication in the area, and the workers on the railway became key activists during the Russian revolution. Both railway and workers also played an important role in the Russian Civil War. Troops of the British Indian Army participated in some of the battles along the railway line. Tashkent was an important bastion for the Red Army.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, vandals have repeatedly defaced the historic rock face at Tamerlane Gate with graffiti, including anti government slogans and profanity. Truly, a very sad example of the troubled times we live today.

© Paul Gilbert. 23 January 2021

New monument to Nicholas II opens in Murmansk Region

PHOTO: Monument to Nicholas II in the city of Kovdor, Murmansk Region

On 19th December 2020, a new monument-bust to Nicholas II was unveiled in the Murmansk region. The proposal to install the monument was approved only last week, after a vote by local residents with 512 participants in favour, and 38 against.

The bronze bust was established on the grounds of the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the city of Kovdor, which is situated about 300 km south of Murmansk.

The bust weighs 300 kilograms, and the marble pedestal weighs about two tons, and is planned to be erected in early 2021.

The idea of ​​erecting the monument is that of members of the Tsar’s Cross Movement in June 2020. The local church parish raised the necessary funds for the pedestal, and the bronze bust itself was donated by the Alley of Russian Glory sculptural workshop situated in Kropotkin, Krasnodar Krai region.

The purpose of erecting the monument to the Tsar-Martyr is to emphasize the contribution of Nicholas II to the development of the Murmansk region in the early 20th century.

Nicholas II is the founder of the city of Romanov-on-Murman, which was renamed Murmansk by the Bolsheviks in April 1917. In June 2019, the local airport was renamed after the Emperor; and on 20th November 2020, a permanent photo exhibition dedicated to Nicholas II was opened in the terminal building of the airport.

PHOTO: Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Kovdor


Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, more than 70 monuments, busts and memorials to Nicholas II have been established in more than 30 regions across Russia. Click HERE to review more than 30 of them in my Nicholas II Monuments category

© Paul Gilbert. 21 December 2020

New monument to Nicholas II opens in Penza Region

On 15th October, a new monument-bust to Nicholas II was unveiled and consecrated in the Penza region.

The monument was installed on the grounds of the Church of the “Quick to Hearken” Icon of the Mother of God in the Russian village of Proletarsky Zemetchinsky.

“The money for the monument to the Tsar-Martyr was collected in the form of donations from all over Russia” said Anatoly Tashkin-Bury, one of the two initiators of the project.

According to him, the initiative received the blessing of the hierarchy of the Penza diocese. The unveiling and consecration ceremony of the monument was attended by more than 100 people.

Tashkin-Bury added that the event was also attended by a small group of local Communists, carrying posters with provocative slogans such as “Bloody Nicholas”.

© Paul Gilbert. 10 November 2020

Monument to the meeting of Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna in Russia unveiled in Crimea

PHOTO: Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, Tsesarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich,
Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna and Princess Alix of Hesse-Darmstadt and Rhine

On 30th October, a monument dedicated to the meeting of Tsesarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich (future Emperor Nicholas II) and his future bride Princess Alix of Hesse-Darmstadt and Rhine (future Empress Alexandra Feodorovna) in Russia (1894) was unveiled and consecrated in the courtyard of the Central Library in the Crimean city of Alushta, .

Sculptors Irina Makarova and her husband Maxim Bataev, began work on the monument in February. Together, they created a composition consisting of four bronze sculptures. each a little over two meters high, a granite pedestal and an arch.

The funds for the monument were allocated by the St. Basil the Great Charitable Foundation and the Double-Headed Eagle Society for the Development of Russian Historical Education.

“Our composition was not easy. The arch unites two loving hearts – Nicholas and Alix, and is also crowned with an Orthodox cross,” said the sculptor Irina Makarova. – “In addition, there are other persons – Nicholas’ uncle Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, and his wife, the sister of the bride, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, who helped unite the two loving hearts. They were all together in Alushta on that day in 1894.”

PHOTO: The consecration of the monument to Nicholas and Alexandra in Alushta

“We decided to portray Nicholas Alexandrovich in a Hussar uniform – it was in this outfit that he got married,” added Irina Makarova. “In her hands Elizabeth Feodorovna is depicted holding a small icon of the Saviour as the personification of spirituality. After all, she supported her sister when Alix doubted whether to change her faith The arch is also a symbol of Orthodoxy and Holy Russia.”

“My husband and I worked together on every detail,” – said Irina Makarova. – “We argued for a long time over the likeness of the future Emperor. We took the advice of Konstantin Valerievich, slightly changing the shape of the eyes and nose so that Nicholas II would become recognizable in his youth. After that we managed to achieve maximum realism.”

According to local residents, this monument will immortalize not only the meeting of two loving hearts, but also their loyalty for one another.

“I kiss and caress you endlessly, I want to show you all the power of my love for you,” wrote Alexandra Feodorovna to her husband. “Always yours to death and beyond …”

Click HERE to read 3 additional articles (with photos) about the Monument to Nicholas and Alexandra in Alushta

© Paul Gilbert. 30 October 2020

Bust of Nicholas II established in Kalach


Bust monument to Emperor Nicholas II by local sculptor Viktor Grishchenko

On Saturday, 29th August, 2020, a new bust monument to Emperor Nicholas II was unveiled and consecrated on the grounds of the Church of the Ascension of the Lord in the town of Kalach, Voronezh region. According to local historian Pavel Popov, this is the only monument to the emperor in the region.

In addition to the monument made by local sculptor Viktor Grishchenko, a granite icon depicting the Holy Royal Martyrs was also consecrated, to be mounted on the monument at a later date.


Archpriest Evgeniy Bey consecrates the bust monument to Emperor Nicholas II


Granite icon depicting the Holy Royal Martyrs 

© Paul Gilbert. 2 September 2020

Fundraising for equestrian monument to Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II


The installation of Russia’s second equestrian monument to Nicholas II has been delayed due to lack of funds.

The amount of 2.3 million rubles ($31,000 USD) has already been collected, however, a further 2.7 million rubles ($37,000 USD) is still needed. The equestrian monument to Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II has already been cast and is located at the plant in Zhukovsky.

The following video shows Russian sculptor Irina Makarova making final preparations on her equestrian monument of Nicholas II – 15th July 2020

The monument was planned to have been installed on 17th July on the grounds of the Church of the Holy Martyr Michael (Gusev), in Kulebaki, Nizhny Novgorod Region.

Click on the following links to read Nicholas II Equestrian Monument Planned for the Russian city of Kulebaki and UPDATE: Nicholas II Equestrian Monument in Kulebaki

© Paul Gilbert. 9 August 2020

Monument to the Imperial Family established in Tyumen

A new monument to the Holy Royal Martyrs was established last month in the Siberian city of Tyumen. The monument depicting Emperor Nicholas II and his family was erected in the garden of the Mother of God-Nativity Convent, which is under the administration of the Tobolsk Diocese. The sculptor Irina Makarova posted a video (above) on YouTube on 31st May, which captures the process of production and installation of the monument. She noted that the Tobolsk Diocese had requested the order. The monument was made last summer in the town of Zhukovsky near Moscow.

“We took as a basis an existing monument to the royal family which was established in 2017 at the Holy Trinity-Saint Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery. On the initiative of the head of the Tobolsk Diocese Vladyka Demetrius, an old Russian boat was added to the monument – this is a symbol of Tyumen. Inscribed on the side of the boat is “Русь“ (Rus) This is no coincidence as Nicholas II and his family were taken from Tyumen to Tobolsk  on the steamboat Rus,” said the sculptor.



According to Makarova, the monument was planned to be erected in Tobolsk, where the Romanov family were held under house arrest from August 1917 to April 1918, however “the locals were against it.” Therefore, they decided to install the monument on the grounds of the monastery, next to the former Tura railway station, where the Imperial family arrived by train from Tsarskoye Selo. The Royal Pier Museum now stands next to the place from where the Imperial family were sent into exile to Tobolsk

She added that they had planned to open the monument on 8th June of this year, but because of the coronavirus pandemic, the official opening and consecration has been postponed indefinitely. The monastery notes the possibility of opening on 17th July, the day marking the death and martyrdom of Nicholas II and his familyy.

In August 1917, two trains arrived at the Tura station in Tyumen, carrying Nicholas II, his family, servants and other retainers, all of which were accompanied by Red Army soldiers. Here the last Russian emperor made a stop on his way into exile. The Imperial family did not spend long in the city, and on the morning of 5th August they set off on the steamer Rus to Tobolsk, where they lived under house arrest until April 1918. It was then that they were moved to the Ural city of Ekaterinburg. Nicholas II along with his family and four faithful retainers were shot on the night of 16/17 July 1918 in the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg.

© Paul Gilbert. 10 June 2020

Moscow Sculptor Captures Last Tsar’s Likeness in New Bust


Photo © Victoria Alexandrovna Tishchenko

This bust of Emperor Nicholas II, by contemporary Russian sculptor Victoria Alexandrovna Tishchenko, has truly captured the tsar’s likeness.

Photo © Victoria Alexandrovna Tishchenko

Born on 26 May 1986 in Moscow, Tishchenko graduated from the Institute of Management and Fashion Industry of MGUTU with a degree in economics and enterprise management. In 2012 she graduated from the Ilya Glazunov Russian Academy of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, specializing in art and sculpture. In 2015, she graduated from the graduate school of RAZHViZ majoring in art history. She is Member of the Moscow Union of Artists and the Moscow Association of Sculptors.


Photo © Victoria Alexandrovna Tishchenko


Photo © Victoria Alexandrovna Tishchenko

Her other works include a bust of General Count Fyodor Arturovich Keller (1857-1918), one of only two Tsarist generals, who remained loyal to the Russian Orthodox emperor and refused to swear allegiance to the Provisional Government.

© Paul Gilbert. 18 May 2020

UPDATE: Nicholas II Equestrian Monument in Kulebaki


Photo © Irina Makarova

On 13th December 2019, I published an article Nicholas II Equestrian Monument Planned for the Russian city of Kulebaki (with photos) of a truly splended equestrian monument of Nicholas II by the sculptor Irina Makarova, which is to be installed in the Russian city of Kulebaki in July of this year.

I am pleased to share the following three videos by Max Bataev, which depict the process of creating this impressive equestrian of Russia’s last emperor and tsar:



Equestrian of Nicholas II dominates the Monument to the Heroes of World War One in Moscow

Note: the Russian media refer to this monument as the first equestrian monument of Nicholas II to be established in Russia. The Kulebaki monument will be the second equestrian monument to Nicholas II in Russia, the first was established in Moscow.


Ministry of Defense on the Frunze Embankment in Moscow

On 16 December 2014, Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu opened a sculptural composition dedicated to the heroes of World Wars I and II on the grounds of the Ministry of Defense on the Frunze Embankment in Moscow. The WWI monument features Nicholas II on horseback, recognizing and honouring his efforts during the Great War.

© Paul Gilbert. 4 April 2020

Nicholas II monument proposed for Tsarskoye Selo


© Philipp Moskvitin

The above sketch is for a proposed monument of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II by Russian artist Philipp Moskvitin. Note the crown of thorns that the tsar is holding in his right hand.

The artist’s idea has been presented to Tsarskoye Selo. It would be nice to see such a monument erected in the garden of the Alexander Palace, a perfect welcome to the Museum of the Russian Imperial Family, which is scheduled to officially open on 18th August 2020.


© Philipp Moskvitin


© Philipp Moskvitin

Click HERE to visit Philpp Moskvitin’s web site

© Philipp Moskvitin / Paul Gilbert. 28 February 2020