The Moika Palace or Yusupov Palace was once the primary residence of the House of Yusupov. The building was the site of Grigori Rasputin's murder in 1916. The palace was first built around 1770 by the French architect Jean-Baptiste Vallin de la Mothe. Over the years numerous well-known architects worked on the palace, and it is known for the hodgepodge of architectural styles. A. Mikhailov reconstructed the building in 1830-s when the Yusupov’s became owners of this palace . This time the modern appearance of the palace was formed.
From 1830 to 1917, the palace belonged to the House of Yusupov, an immensely wealthy family of Russian nobles, known for their philanthropy and art collections. Thus in the time of Imperial Russia, the palace became known as the Yusupov Palace. Fantastic and luxuries interiors of the palace were not inferior the royal palaces. More than 40,000 works of art including works by Rembrandt, jewelry, sculptures kept in the palace. Yusupov collection was nationalized and placed into the Hermitage and other museums.
The palace is most famous, however, because of the actions of its last prince Felix Yusupov. He was thought to be even as rich as the tsar. In Russia Yusupov owned 57 palaces, including four in St. Petersburg. The palace on the Moika was the prince’s favorite residence in the capital. The exact events surrounding Rasputin's death are much in dispute. The story, according to Yusupov, is that on the night of December 16, 1916 he, along with Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich of the House of Romanov, invited Grigori Rasputin to the Moika Palace. Supposedly, they served Rasputin cakes and red wine laced with cyanide — supposedly enough poison to kill five men. Concerned that Rasputin appeared unaffected, Yusupov retrieved a gun and shot Rasputin in the back. Taking him for dead, the party prepared to leave. Yusupov returned a short while later to find Rasputin still alive. He and his conspirators shot Rasputin, at close range, three more times, but Rasputin was still attempting to stand back up and flee. Desperate they clubbed Rasputin in the head repeatedly with an iron bar, wrapped him in a blanket, walked outside and tossed him into the Moika River. His autopsy supposedly found that neither the poison, nor the multiple gunshot wounds, nor the clubbing caused his death — instead he died of hypothermia. Much of the account, from Yusupov, is considered implausible.
The Russian Revolution followed shortly after Rasputin's death and once the Soviets came to power, they confiscated the property of the nobles. In 1925, the palace was handed over to the city's Education Commissariat. While most nobles' palaces were converted to mundane use, the Education Commissariat decided to preserve the mansion as a public museum. Today the palace serves as a Palace of Culture for Educators and it also functions as a museum to Rasputin's murder. The courtyard where Rasputin attempted to flee from his killers is now occupied by a kindergarten playground adjacent to the palace.References:
The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is a world famous spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church and a popular site of pilgrimage and tourism. It is the most important working Russian monastery and a residence of the Patriarch. This religious and military complex represents an epitome of the growth of Russian architecture and contains some of that architecture’s finest expressions. It exerted a profound influence on architecture in Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe.
The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, was founded in 1337 by the monk Sergius of Radonezh. Sergius achieved great prestige as the spiritual adviser of Dmitri Donskoi, Great Prince of Moscow, who received his blessing to the battle of Kulikov of 1380. The monastery started as a little wooden church on Makovets Hill, and then developed and grew stronger through the ages.
Over the centuries a unique ensemble of more than 50 buildings and constructions of different dates were established. The whole complex was erected according to the architectural concept of the main church, the Trinity Cathedral (1422), where the relics of St. Sergius may be seen.
In 1476 Pskovian masters built a brick belfry east of the cathedral dedicated to the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. The church combines unique features of early Muscovite and Pskovian architecture. A remarkable feature of this church is a bell tower under its dome without internal interconnection between the belfry and the cathedral itself.
The Cathedral of the Assumption, echoing the Cathedral of the Assumption in the Moscow Kremlin, was erected between 1559 and 1585. The frescoes of the Assumption Cathedral were painted in 1684. At the north-western corner of the Cathedral, on the site of the western porch, in 1780 a vault containing burials of Tsar Boris Godunov and his family was built.
In the 16th century the monastery was surrounded by 6 meters high and 3,5 meters thick defensive walls, which proved their worth during the 16-month siege by Polish-Lithuanian invaders during the Time of Trouble. They were later strengthened and expanded.
After the Upheaval of the 17th century a large-scale building programme was launched. At this time new buildings were erected in the north-western part of the monastery, including infirmaries topped with a tented church dedicated to Saints Zosima and Sawatiy of Solovki (1635-1637). Few such churches are still preserved, so this tented church with a unique tiled roof is an important contribution to the Lavra.
In the late 17th century a number of new buildings in Naryshkin (Moscow) Baroque style were added to the monastery.
Following a devastating fire in 1746, when most of the wooden buildings and structures were destroyed, a major reconstruction campaign was launched, during which the appearance of many of the buildings was changed to a more monumental style. At this time one of the tallest Russian belfries (88 meters high) was built.
In the late 18th century, when many church lands were secularized, the chaotic planning of the settlements and suburbs around the monastery was replaced by a regular layout of the streets and quarters. The town of Sergiev Posad was surrounded by traditional ramparts and walls. In the vicinity of the monastery a number of buildings belonging to it were erected: a stable yard, hotels, a hospice, a poorhouse, as well as guest and merchant houses. Major highways leading to the monastery were straightened and marked by establishing entry squares, the overall urban development being oriented towards the centrepiece - the Ensemble of the Trinity Sergius Lavra.
In 1993, the Trinity Lavra was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.