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Live legend of St. Petersburg: The Yusupov Palace on the Moika River

Yusupov Palace in St. Petersburg witnessed the most significant events of the last centuries. Regal persons came here, meetings of elite and the most significant figures of history took place here and Grigory Rasputin – the most scandalous and ambiguous figure in the history of Russia finished the course of life exactly here.

If you want to plunge about the atmosphere of old times, to see how representatives of the nobility lived there, to admire work of the famous architects and artists, then the Yusupov Palace is the place which you surely should visit!

How to reach the Yusupov Palace on the Moika River

If you want not only to get to the palace, but also incidentally admire the city, safely go to a way by buses No. 3, 22 and 27 to a stop "Theatre square" or by trolleybuses No. 5 and 22 to a stop "the Palace of Work".  You don’t want to spend too much time in way, do you? Then you can use the St. Petersburg subway to “Admiralteyskaya” or “Nevsky prospect” stations. If you stopped near the "Garden", "Sennaya" or "Spasskaya" metro stations, then you can use services of the K124, K186 or K350 route taxi (marshrutka) to leave at a stop "Glinka's corner and the embankment of the Moika River".

Individual visitors and small excursion groups enter the lock from Dekabristov Street, 21. The entrance for organized groups and visitors of private theatricals is located on Moika River Embankment, 94.

The palace with centuries-old history

Actually Yusupov Palace has belonged to Yusupov' dynasty only since 1830. For the first time the building is mentioned on the first cartographic images of St. Petersburg. During that period it was a small wooden palace belonging to Peter I's niece. In 1726 the building was granted to the Semenovsky regiment, and in 1742 it was redeemed by the general Shuvalov, the notable grandee at court of Elizabeth Petrovna.

Only in 1770 the construction of the stone palace for the son of the grandee Shuvalov according to the plan of Jean-Baptiste Vallin de la Mothe began. The structure of the building, certainly, is differed from modern. The side projections were only two floors high, and there was a ceremonial entrance arch to the yard of the house from the river. Since those times we can still mention an invariable triumphal arch and a seven-meter fencing with a classical colonnade.

19 years later after the beginning of construction Shuvalov died, and the house passed to his children – to Aleksandra and Pavel who sold the estate to Ekaterina the Second, and she, in turn, presented a manor to the close girlfriend – the countess Branitskaya. In 1830 Boris Yusupov redeemed the palace from the elderly hostess with all interior and a decor for 250 thousand rubles bank notes and started its reorganization right there. During reorganization of the palace a lot of things in its shape significantly exchanged:

  • One more floor was added to each side projection;
  • The new case with the banquet room appeared on the East side;
  • A wing connected among themselves and arranged art gallery and private theatricals there;
  • There were greenhouses and the garden pavilion;
  • A palace garden is laid out;
  • There were Green, Imperial and Blue living rooms;
  • The front staircase from the embankment is constructed.

After that Yusupov' dynasty owned the palace up to revolution of 1917, and it became known as the Yusupov Palace, despite a huge number of the other real estate, being owned by a princely sort.

Today the palace represents a multipurpose complex in which there was a place to the architectural and fine arts, the modern arts and, of course, the theatre!

Several interesting facts about the Yusupov Palace on Moika

  • The palace was well-known at all times. The elite of St. Petersburg gathered there during lifetime of owners, the secular receptions, balls, masquerades and theatrical evenings impressing guests with the luxury were carried out;
  • In the cellar of the lock Rasputin was killed. He is the sign figure in the history of Russia which is still causing a controversy and doubts;
  • The popular opera "A life for the tsar" which became the first representation shown at the Mariinsky Theatre debuted not in the temple of art at all. The first display took place in Yusupov Palace;
  • Yusupov owned not only the palace on Moika. All the princely sort possessed 57 palaces in Russia, four of which are in St. Petersburg;
  • The palace was filled with works of art, however after 1917 the main part of pictures was sold abroad, and the little that remained, was taken by the State Hermitage;
  • Registration of interiors of rooms happened at different times therefore rooms in style of rococo, the Renaissance, baroque, an empire style, neoclassicism and also elements of east design adjoin exist in one palace;
  • The Yusupov Palace was visited by many venerable and royal persons. Elizabeth II with prince Charles, Sting, Naomi Campbell and Liza Minnelli and also all participants of The Rolling Stones group stopped here;
  • In military years the hospital was located in the palace and the building was often exposed to firings and bombings because of what it strongly collapsed. After the war the building began to be restored, but in 1958 suffered from the fire again, and it was restored anew up to 1978;
  • The Konyushenny wing is the "youngest" in a palace complex. The ancient interior of the 19th century is combined with elements of modern loft style there;
  • The palace is included into the Unified state register of objects of cultural heritage.

What is surely worth watching in the Yusupov Palace

Personal rooms of Irina Aleksandrovna Yusupova

The refined bedroom of the princess overlooks a picturesque courtyard. Indoors the silence and a cosiness always reign. The room is divided into two unequal parts by an arch. In the biggest, alcove part there once was a double bed. The ceiling is decorated with the distinguished painting executed by Vladimir Konashevich, the artist who presented us in the Soviet years remarkable illustrations to books by Korney Chukovsky. Moreover, we can observe a painted plafond and a magnificent fireplace from black and white marble.

The bedroom of the princess smoothly goes down to the bathroom and transition to personal rooms of Felix Yusupov. The copy of a wedding tiara of Irina Aleksandrovna which was once made for it by the jewelry house of AXENOFF is exposed there.

Winter garden

At the beginning of the nineteenth century winter gardens were at the peak of noble fashion. The green corner blossoming all the year around was obliged to be in any rich house, any residence or the lock. Yusupov Palace did not become an exception, however at the beginning of the twentieth century the magnificent garden had to be reconstructed and turned into Oak dining room, and magnificent greens was decided to transfer to east wing, closer to personal apartments of the prince. The semi-circular room with the Ionic columns, abundance of mirrors and a special niche for the fountain was attached to the Small dance hall. Today this magnificent hall with soft light and a refined interior is used for holding small exhibitions and presentations.

The room at the pool of prince Felix

It is one of the most unusual rooms in the house demonstrating a really distinguished taste of the young prince. On his order the superficial pool reminding the Roman bath was established here. Marble steps smoothly go down to a dock apron, and in the depth of the room the bench for rest is located. Marble lion's mascarons which of mouths to the pool water, and a marble fireplace opposite to the classical window portico surrounded with two columns and pilasters flew remained in an interior of the room.

Small dance hall

It also enters a complex of "youth apartments". The hall is decorated with two close formation of the Corinthian columns sheathed by artificial marble. Floors are covered with a type-setting parquet, and the ceiling is decorated by plafond painting with sculptural reliefs on antique subject. The chamber and cosy Winter garden adjoins to this symmetric and harmonious room. This hall is the biggest in the east wing of the palace.

Irina Aleksandrovna Yusupova's studio

Near Irina Aleksandrovna's rooms the small vaulted room which is looking south semi-circular is located. This room was planned as a private office of the princess and the place where it could be engaged in tranquillity and privacy in painting. Especially for the drawing room the enamelled furniture was ordered and also eminent artists, such as Beloborodov, Chekhonin, Konashevich and Tyrsa carried out painting in it. Today the small exposition devoted to works of these artists is shown in it.

Private theatricals of Yusupov

The private theatre of Yusupov was always a heart of a social life of the Palace. Musical and theatrical performances brought together the high-ranking and famous guests among whom quite often there were also members of imperial family. The stage of the theatre created in the nineteenth century reached our days in original state. Today you can visit the place where Polina Viardo, Franz Liszt, Anna Pavlova, Glinka acted, opera singers and ballerinas of Mariinsky theatre and Mikhaylovsky theatre shone.

House church

The house church was constructed in 1878 and till 1917 all major celebrations – a wedding of the princess Yusupova and Felix Sumarokov-Elston, christened their son and the granddaughter took place here. After the revolution the former interior remained for seven years more and after it was reconstructed into the lecture hall. Only in 2005 large-scale restoration of church began, and it lasted for ten years. Today each guest of the palace can visit a church service on Wednesdays and see an interior of church as it was during lifetime of a princely couple.

Konyushenny wing

This most modern and multipurpose space in the palace combined an ancient interior of the nineteenth century and the modern loft. Today exhibitions and the presentations, chamber performances and light shows are held here.

Palace garden

If there is a good weather, and you have a good mood it is necessary to get a pleasure of walking on a picturesque palace garden. Aromas of herbs and flowers, beautiful beds, shady trees and elegantly issued paths – the wonderful place for romantic walk or a privacy!

The special exposition devoted to Rasputin's murder

In the semi basement room of the palace the scene of one of the most mysterious and tangled crimes committed during the pre-Revolutionary period is reproduced. The twilight reigns in Garconierre, the waxwork of Rasputin sits at the table filled with viands and bottles, and the young officer Felix Yusupov who decided that his holy duty is to save Russia from Rasputin stands nearby. Guides will tell you the story about life and the death of the infamous aged man and will answer to all your questions with pleasure.

To the tourist for record: the basic rules of behaviour during visit of the palace

As well as in any historical cultural object, there is a certain set of rules and recommendations in the palace for visitors.

It is strictly forbidden in art interiors of halls to:

  • To go independently in halls without attendant, the guide or the employee of the palace (except for the visitors using the audio guide);
  • To touch exhibits, a stucco moulding, walls, home decoration, gilding and other historical values;
  • To lean the elbows on walls, window sills, balustrades, doors;
  • To enter the museum interiors in street footwear, on high-heels or in shoes with metal heel-taps. It is necessary to use museum slippers or replaceable footwear;
  • To enter the palace with big bags, backpacks, suitcases, portfolios and umbrellas;
  • To take a photo and video without special permission for a professional equipment;
  • To smoke in interiors and other rooms of the palace;
  • To visitors with the audio guide to join organized groups with the guide;
  • To carry food and drinks in the museum.

It is important to remember that in case of causing damage to exhibits and objects of protection of the Palace, the administration has the right to impose on the violator a quite large penalty – 25 thousand Russian roubles. Besides, the causer harming it will be obliged to pay the estimated cost of restoration works.

Also there are several recommendations for visitors of the Yusupov Palace:

  • Try not to use mobile phones. It can distract guides and other visitors of the museum;
  • Disconnect sound signals on mobile phones and other devices;
  • At survey of the museum with the audio guide try not to deviate from the land route and to implement the recommendations of inspectors of halls;
  • If you want to make a picture, try not to block the review to other visitors of an exposition.

Important: Architectural features of the palace do not represent possible to provide access to an exposition "Rasputin's Murder" to visitors on wheelchairs, baby carriages or other large-size vehicles because of too narrow corridors. For the same reason to some categories of citizens it will be difficult to visit orchestra seats of Private theatre. In this case it will be most convenient to be located on a tier.


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