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Yusupov Palace

Yusupov Palace

On the bank of the Moika river stands a refined yellow and white edifice of enchanting and at the same time mysterious Yusupov Palace, the place that is closely associated not only with one the Russian wealthiest noble families but that is more intriguing with the name of Gregory Rasputin who is considered to be one of the most scandalous and controversial personae in the history of Russian empire. Being a stunning sample of classicism, the facade of the palace decorated with six-column portico strikes the onlooker with perfect harmony of proportions and silhouette elegancy. The construction of the palace dates back to the early 18th century. The palace was designed by Domenico Tresini in 1704 and although in the course of time the interiors have been redecorated several times according to the fashion of different epochs, its fa?ade remained intact. The Yusupov palace acquired its present appearance due to numerous reconstructions performed by such renowned architects as Jean-Baptiste Vallin de la Mothe, Andrei Mikhailov, Ippolit Monighetti and others. The Yusupov Princes whose lineage traces back to the powerful princes of the Nogai horde, entered the service of the Russian court during Ivan the Terrible and since that time they had always been true and devoted friends of the imperial family. Only in Saint-Petersburg this prosperous noble family owned four palaces, but the one on Moika embankment was always the most relished one.
It had always been one of the most fashionable centers of St.-Petersburg aristocratic social life. The balls at the Yusupov''s were so refined and exuberant that they were long remembered by the contemporaries. Franz Liszt, Alexander Dargomyzhsky, Feodor Chaliapin and Anna Pavlova performed on the stage of the Yusupovís home theater.
The Palace features original interiors of the 19th-beginning of the 20th centuries. The rooms are decorated in various styles: lavishness of baroque, elegance of empire style, exotica of oriental style, extravagance of neoclassicism and others. The recreated interiors still amaze everyone by opulence of the interior decoration that include paintings, wood and stone carving, multicolored marble, crystal chandeliers, silk, exquisite furniture and so forth. The members of the Yusupov family being renowned connoisseurs of art possessed extensive collections of paintings, sculptures and objects of applied art notwithstanding that their collection was known well beyond Russia and after October revolution considerably enlarged the possessions of the State Hermitage museum.
Alongside with being a remarkable architectural monument, this place is closely associated with the fall of the Imperial Russia. The palaceís claim to fame is the exhibition dedicated to the murder of Grigory Rasputin. Undoubtedly the personality of this peasant and self-proclaimed holy man is the most intriguing and controversial figure in the Russian history. Being a heavy drunker and a womanizer he managed to win favor of the imperial family through alleged supernatural powers. The only heir to the throne, Alexis, suffered from hemophilia, and only Rasputin was able to stop the boy''s bleeding. His control over the decisions made by the imperial family was so immense that it became a source of tremendous envy among political figures and strong disapproval among the nobility.
At the end of 1916, a group of aristocrats in cahoots with the Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich (a cousin of Nicholas II) decided that Rasputin had to be killed in order to save Russia. They lured him to the Yusupovsky Palace on the pretext that Prince Felix Yusupov would introduce Rasputin to his beautiful wife, grand duchess Irene. Rasputin was led to the cellar and fed poisoned food and drink, but by some unknown reason it did not affect him. Then Yusupov shot the monk at point blank range and Rasputin collapsed on the floor. When Yusupov went to tell his fellow conspirators the good news, they sent him back to make sure he had done the job. On returning to inspect the body, Rasputin suddenly regained consciousness and managed to flee into the courtyard where his was finally shot down. The dead body was bound and finally tossed into the frozen river. When Rasputin''s body was found, his bonds were broken and his lungs were filled with water, showing that he didn''t actually die until he was submerged in the frozen waters. However the goal of the conspirators was achieved nevertheless Russia was not saved at all on the contrary the situation became even worse. Soon after the tragedy, Nicolas II abdicated and Bolsheviks took over.
In 1918, after the October Revolution, the Yusupov Palace was nationalized alongside with many other non-imperial residences. Its priceless collection was partly sold out and moved to the State Hermitage and in 1925 the building itself became the headquarters of the Teachers'' House. Only after the disastrous fire of 1958, it was converted into the museum and the restoration work started. In 1987 it was opened to the public and despite restoration that is still carried out, the onlooker while wandering through the opened halls of the palace can become aware of the former incredible wealth and refined taste of the Yusupov family.

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