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Yussoupov Palace and Rasputin Murder Mystery

The image of St. Petersburg is certainly connected with such famous architectural ensembles as Palace Square or the Spit of Vassilievsky Island. However, that’s not only it. An important place in forming the image and atmosphere of St. Petersburg belongs to old private mansions of the 18th and 19th centuries. One of the most famous among such noble nests is the Yussoupov Palace on the Moika river.

The Yussoupovs were one of the top wealthiest families among the old aristocracy.  Their numerous estates became a legend, their superb collection of paintings were much spoken about in European noble houses and their magnificent balls held in these opulent rooms gained a fame to this home. The revolutionary storm of political changes put the Yussoupov Palace on the Moika in the hands of new owners. Unlike many St. Petersburg mansions of noble families, this palace had a happy fate: it was granted to the Trade Union of Education Workers. Thus, the palace was through the most sinister Soviet years administered by the one department, which helped to ensure both its conservation and systematic restoration work. Up to now, the Yussoupov palace still houses the Community Centre for Workers of Education.

The elegant Rococo-style family theatre, known as the “palace’s jewelry box”, stands out among the exquisite interiors of the Yusosupov Palace. Although it is a remarkable imitation of a public theatre, the beautiful audience hall has just 180 seats. Attending a concert here is an experience in itself. Besides a regular tour through the Yussoupovs’ palace rooms, you can also have a special backstage tour showing you the artists’ changing rooms, the stage itself and the old mechanisms that run sceneries and the curtain. You will see the buffet room where only chosen VIP guests were invited to dine with the anonymous box for those guests who for some reason wanted to keep their presence in secret.

The Yussoupov Palace on the Moika is also famed as the murder scene of Grigory Rasputin, the extraordinary peasant and mystic who had a powerful influence over he Russian Imperial family. The mysterious circumstances of his dramatic death on the night of December 16-17, 1916 are legendary. Lured to the Yussoupov Palace on the pretext of a party, Rasputin was poisoned, then shot by prince Felix Yussoupov and left for dead. Later returning to the murder scene, Felix found Rasputin still alive. After a short struggle, Rasputin managed to escape to the courtyard. Pursued by the conspirators, he was shot three more times and brutally battered and after that dumped in the river. When his corpse was found three days later, water in his lungs indicated death by drowning.

The exhibition in the Yussoupov Palace dedicated to Grigory Rasputin does not only show the murder place itself, but also features the pages of life of the “holy man”, explains why and how he obtained such an extraordinary influence on Nicholas and Alexandra and shows Rasputin’s numerous followers. You’ll see some famous pictures of Rasputin as well as some private unknown ones, showing Rasputin’s home in the Siberian village Pokrovskoye, his wife, kids and neighbours. A wax figure exposition recreates the atmosphere of the gruesome night, showing the conspirators and their victim.

© 2015 I TravelSpb.