Ekaterinburg Approves Final Design for St. Catherine’s Cathedral


Artist rendering of St. Catherine’s Cathedral in Ekaterinburg

After years of planning, discussions and protests, the design for the reconstruction of St. Catherine’s Cathedral in Ekaterinburg have been finalized. Construction of the cathedral is expected to be completed by 2023, when the Ural city marks its 300th anniversary. The large-scale project will also include the development of the adjacent territory.

The announcement was made on 7th December, the day in which Ekaterinburg celebrates its heavenly patroness. 

St. Catherine is currently immortalized in Ekaterinburg only by means of a chapel on Labour (formerly Ekaterinskaya Square), the original site of the cathedral. St. Catherine’s Cathedral was closed on 15th February 1930, and subsequently demolished the following month on 15th March.

On 18th August 1991, a memorial cross was erected, on the place where the altar of the former cathedral was located. A prayer service is held here each year in honour of the feast of St. Catherine ( 7 December). In 1998, the year marking the 275th anniversary of Ekaterinburg, a stone chapel with five domes designed by architect A.V. Dolgov was erected.


St. Catherine’s Chapel, built on the site of the cathedral in Ekaterinburg


In March 2010, the Ekaterinburg Diocese with the support of the Governor of Sverdlovsk announced a plan to reconstruct the cathedral. This plan was met with much opposition, especially after the idea to erect a “church on the water” was proposed. Protests forced organizers to reconsider the location. For more information, please refer to my article Proposed Ekaterinburg Cathedral Divides City, published on 14 March 2017.

After further debate, other sites were considered. The final choice for the construction of the cathedral will be on the Oktyabrskaya (also known as Drama Theater) Square, which is situated on the embankment of the City Pond near the Yeltsin Center. 

“People should see that we respect our history and respect traditions, since the Church of St. Catherine was originally the historical foundation of our city,”- said Alexander Andreev, Director of the St. Catherine Foundation – “the cathedral was blown up in 1930, and the city has been living with a shattered foundation for nearly a century. In our understanding (and judging by the results of a poll conducted by the Socium Foundation), the construction of the cathedral is to correct a mistake based on Soviet dogma and the restoration of historical justice.”


Artist rendering of St. Catherine’s Cathedral in Ekaterinburg


The original plan was to construct the cathedral in the Russian Revival style, reflecting the style that arose in second quarter of the 19th century and was an eclectic melding of pre-Petrine Russian architecture and elements of Byzantine architecture. This idea, however, was abandoned, and the Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir was taken as the basis for the new project, it will feature five-pillars and five-domes, designed according to the traditions of Old Russian architecture.

According to the first project renderings by architect Vladimir Rudnev from APM-1 bureau, the height of the cathedral was 58 meters. However, after all the improvements, the cathedral will now reach a height of 75 meters. According to the chief architect of Ekaterinburg, Andrei Molokov, the building will now blend more successfully into the city’s skyline.

The exterior decoration of the cathedral will be made from Vladimir limestone, decorated with carvings, and gilded copper domes. At night, the building will be illuminated with architectural lighting.

” The interior of the cathedral will be decorated with mosaics,” – said Alexander Andreev – “This is a unique project for Russia, which we plan to complete and consecrate by 2023. It should be noted, however, that some of the works, such as frescoes on the walls, the creation of which takes a large amount of time, will be completed after the official opening.”

The cathedral will be designed to accommodate a maximum of 2.5 thousand worshipers. The first floor will include a church shop and a tea room for parishioners, a room for tanks with holy water, a baptismal room, a hall for the Patriarch, priests and guests, as well as a refectory and rooms for the clergy. On the second floor, the architects will provide a prayer hall for 800 people. 


Artist rendering of St. Catherine’s Cathedral in Ekaterinburg


According to the architects, not only a cathedral, but also a new urban space will be created. As Alexander Andreev explains, the park and Oktyabrskaya Square will be landscaped with more than 100 new trees. Moreover, the project will feature a pedestrian area between the drama theater and the Yeltsin Center. Also, the city embankment, which the city has not been upgraded since its construction, is subject to restoration.

The park itself will be divided into several zones – a children’s playground, a workout area and a skating rink.

“Our task is to “strengthen” this place, to attract there more young people”, – said Alexander Andreev – “It will be a new urban space. We are trying to create a comfortable urban environment and public space that will attract both adults and the younger generation. Our main task is to create a social and functional design. To this end, the project will involve the finest architects and designers.”

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 12 December 2018

Exhibition: ‘Victory of the Entente – Victory of Russia 1918-2018’ Opens in Ganina Yama


On 9th December 2018, the exhibition Victory of the Entente – Victory of Russia 1918-2018, dedicated to the centenary of the end of the First World War, opened in the Museum and Exhibition Center of the Monastery of the Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama.

The exhibition marks the Day of the Heroes of the Fatherland, a Russian holiday which has been celebrated since the 18th century; the date was timed to coincide with the outstanding event of the reign of Empress Catherine II – in 1769 she established the Order of St. George. During the First World War, this order was awarded to soldiers who displayed valor, bravery and courage in battle.

The exhibition begins with the presentation of the book The Role of Russia and the Romanovs in the Great War of 1914–1918, by Alexey Vladimirovich Oleynikov, Associate Professor of Astrakhan State Technical University, Doctor of Historical Sciences. 

A.V. Oleinikov researched the contribution to the victory of Imperial Russia’s supreme commanders: Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich (1856-1929) and Emperor Nikolai II (1868-1918)

The historian writes: “The sovereign emperor Nicholas II who served as Commander in Chief, proved a calm, seasoned, thoughtful leader with perseverance in achieving the goal of winning the war, competently organizing the work of the military machine and coordinating activities its units, capable of selecting qualified officers to perform their duty.”

The book has a section dedicated to military companies, where an analysis is given in figures of the number of weapons. There is a comparative analysis of the contribution of Russia with the other members of the Entente.

The illustrations for the book were photographs exhibited in the monastery from the photo album of the Sovereign. They can be seen in the multimedia hall of the museum, through the pages of a virtual photo album, the original of which is stored in the funds of the Museum of Local History in Zlatoust.

Visitors to the exhibition can acquaint themselves with Russia’s role during the First World War. The exhibit features original items of the First World War from the Cultural Center, which include uniforms, ammunition, equipment, weapons, awards, etc.

Through documents and photographs, visitors will learn the true contribution of Russia and, for example, the United States, which entered at the last stage of the war. The exhibition further explores the contribution of Britain and France with the contribution of Russia, although Russia’s former allies tell a completely different story today.

– This injustice needs to be corrected, it is necessary to restore the historical truth, including the role of the sovereign, who, even while being in exile in Tobolsk, continued to be true to his duty towards England and France, who had betrayed him, – says Vladimir Anatolyevich Kuznetsov, head of the monastery center – The exhibition covers the period from 1914 to 1918. Despite the fact that the Brest Peace Treaty was signed on 3rd March 1918, Russia continued to fight. The expeditionary corps of the Russian army continued to operate in the West. The Russian Legion of Honour reached Berlin, including the future Marshal of the Soviet Union R.Ya. Malinowski. The Bolsheviks gave away vast territories of the former Russian Empire to the mercy of the enemy. But at the same time, our Fatherland actually continued to fulfill its obligations to the countries of the Entente. She held in her occupied territories the huge forces of the Kaiser military bloc, which later were not used by the Central Powers to defend her Western Front. Greed destroyed them. Thus, by 11th November 1918, the war ended with the victory of the Entente, and for Russia in a certain sense, it also ended with a victory over the enemy who declared war on us in the summer of 1914.”

The end of the exhibition will be timed to coincide with the centenary of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles – 28th June 2019.

The exhibition Victory of the Entente – Victory of Russia 1918-2018, runs until 28th June 2019, in the Museum and Exhibition Center of the Monastery of the Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama. Free admission.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 11 December 2018

Bust of Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich Established in St. Petersburg


Earlier this week, a bust of Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich (1798-1849), was solemnly opened on the territory of the Mikhailovsky Military Artillery Academy, in St. Petersburg.

The opening of the bust is timed to the 198th anniversary of the establishment of the school, named in honour of its founder Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich. Celebrations were held within the framework of the 53rd international military-scientific conference.

The youngest son of Emperor Paul I, Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich, already at the age of 16, showed himself to be an experienced officer, participating in the anti-Napoleonic campaigns of 1814-1815. He took part in the suppression of the Decembrist uprising on December 14, 1825. At his suggestion, in 1820, an officer’s school was organized in Tsarskoye Selo to train instructors for army and guards units.

Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich married his first cousin once removed Princess Charlotte of Württemberg (1807–1873), in St. Petersburg on 19 February 1824. Charlotte took the name Elena Pavlovna upon converting to Orthodoxy. They had five daughters.

The Mikhailovsky Palace in St. Petersburg, was built by the famous Russian architect Carlo Rossi for Grand Duke Michael between 1819–1825. In 1895, the palace was established as the Russian Museum of His Imperial Majesty Alexander III. Today, the palace is home to the State Russian Museum, the world’s largest depository of Russian fine art. Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich died in Warsaw on 9th September (O.S. 28 August) 1849. He was buried in the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 10 December 2018

Triumphal Arch in Honour of Nicholas II to be Restored in Khabarovsk


Artist rendering of the front view of the restored Triumphal Arch in Khabarovsk

The Triumphal Arch, which was erected in Khabarovsk in 1891 in honour of the visit to the city by Tsesarevich Nikolai Alexandrovich (future Nicholas II) and then demolished by the Bolsheviks, will be restored.


Artist rendering of the rear view of the restored Triumphal Arch in Khabarovsk

The competition for the restored arch project was announced by the City Hall this fall, and now its results have been summarized. The arch is expected to be rebuilt on its’ original historic site – near the Cathedral Square (formerly Komsomolskaya Square). 

In addition, the option was proposed to place the arch at the “Platinum Arena”, so that it became the entrance to the pedestrian street, leading from the sports facility to the NK City Shopping Center.

Click HERE to read Future Tsar Nicholas II 1891 Triumphal Arch to be Rebuilt in Khabarovsk?, published in Royal Russia News on 22 December 2017. This article also has photos of two other Triumphal Arches, beautifully restored in Vladivostock and Blagoveschensk. 

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 10 December 2018

This Week in the News – The Romanovs and Imperial Russia


PHOTO: Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna sketches a portrait of Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovich on the balcony of the Alexander Palace, 1898

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This Week in the News includes a link and brief summary to full-length articles published in the past week from English language media and internet sources.

This initiative is a courtesy to those who do not have a Facebook account, or for some reason cannot view the Royal Russia Facebook page – now, with more than 172,000 followers from around the world!

Royal Russia is pleased to offer our dedicated followers with the following 5 full-length articles, on a variety of topics covering the Romanov dynasty, their legacy, monarchy, and the history of Imperial and Holy Russia, for the week ending 8 December 2018:


ARTICLES – click on the red headline text below to read the respective articles

The Royal Children. Five Different Characters

This past summer, July 17, 2018, marked the centenary of the killing of the Romanov family—Tsar Nicholas, his wife, Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna, their daughters Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and son Alexei.

What were the royal children like? What did they dream of and what did they manage to achieve in their short, but so wonderful lives?

The extraordinary stories behind the ambassadors’ residences in Moscow + (PHOTOS)

Many beautiful examples of tsarist architecture have survived in Moscow. The former homes of the nobility, now house embassies, and have retained much of their Imperial splendour.

Memorial Plaque for Imperial Family’s Participation in Glorification of St. Seraphim Found in Sarov

Digging over the summer, staff from the Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences unearthed a memorial plaque that commemorates the participation of Tsar Nicholas II and his family in the glorification of St. Seraphim of Sarov in 1903.

Cat employees, ghosts, hidden masterpieces: Why the State Hermitage is the world’s best museum + (PHOTOS)

The collection of art and artifacts at Russia’s largest and most famous museum is so huge that it would take no less than 10 years for you to see everything.

Yurevets: Rescued from the waves of the Volga + (PHOTOS)

Architectural historian and photographer William Brumfield writes in RBTH, about a river town crowned with cupolas.

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PHOTO: Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna with her brother Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich at Gatchina, 1898

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Disclaimer: the links published on this page are for information purposes only,
and may not reflect the opinions of Paul Gilbert and/or Royal Russia

Help Preserve the Romanov Legacy and Imperial Russian History in 2019

inside by xmas tree

Nicholas II and his family marked their last Christmas in Tobolsk, 1917

Royal Russia to mark its’ 25th anniversary in 2019!

If you enjoy all the FREE articles, photographs, and videos on Royal Russia, please help support my work in 2019 by making an online donation in *USD

* Donations can also be made by check or money order in Canadian or US dollars, by filling in the form (see below), and remitting by mail – PG

Dear Friends of Royal Russia:

This month, I am launching my annual Christmas appeal to Romanov enthusiasts and lovers of Imperial Russian history.

What a truly remarkable year 2018 was for me! I was honoured to take part in the Tsar’s Days events held in Ekaterinburg in July, and hosting the Nicholas II Conference in Colchester, England in October. No less than 4 issues of Sovereign, and 2 issues of Royal Russia were published in 2018. 

In 2019, I will continue to make translations a priority, devoting many hours each day browsing Russian language media sites to bring you the latest news on the Romanov dynasty, their legacy, exhibitions, restorations and more. Articles and news stories of interest will be translated from Russian, supplemented with photographs and videos, for posting my Royal Russia News blog and Facebook pages.

I will also be launching a new campaign to help clear the name of the much slandered tsar Nicholas II. This will include a new web site, book projects, and most importantly the translation of articles by Russian historians, who base their research on new documents discovered since the fall of the Soviet Union, from state and private archival sources. 

If you enjoy all the FREE articles, photographs, and videos on Royal Russia, as well as my weekly news and blog updates, please help support my work in the coming year ahead by making a donation.

Click on the link below to make a credit card donation to my Christmas 2019 appeal:



Please note that there certainly is no obligation, this is merely a request for you to help by showing your personal support of my work and keeping the memories of old Russia alive.

Thank you for your ongoing interest and support of Royal Russia. I look forward to bringing you many more years of articles, news stories, videos and photographs of the Romanov dynasty, their legacy, and the history of Imperial and Holy Russia.

Sincerely Yours, 
Royal Russia Founder / Website Administrator
1 December 2018
NOTE: If you have recently made a donation, please accept my most sincere thanks for support of my work. You will receive confirmation and thanks by e-mail or regular post.

Exhibition: ‘Russian Charity Under the Auspices of the Imperial House of Romanov’


On 7th December 2018, an exhibition featuring a unique collection of paintings, sculptures and other artefacts showing the scale of charitable endeavors of the Romanov dynasty over 300 years opened in the Grand Palace in the Tsaritsyno Museum-Reserve in Moscow.

The exhibition Russian Charity Under the Auspices of the Imperial House of Romanov is organized by the “Elisavetinsko-Sergievsky Educational Society” and the Tsaritsyno Museum-Reserve with the support of the Moscow Government opens in the Grand Palace.

The exhibition, timed to the 100th anniversary of the death of the Imperial family in Ekaterinburg in July 1918, presents more than 1,000 items – displayed in eleven halls in the palace museum – from state museums in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod and private collections. 

The centuries-old traditions of personal charity were laid by the first monarchs from the Romanov dynasty. Tsars Mikhail Fedorovich and Alexey Mikhailovich provided assistance to the starving, exiled, prisoners from personal funds. Empress Catherine the Great made all charities state institutions in the 18th century. Under the law, they were granted government funding, aside from receiving private donations.


Sisters of Mercy in the infirmary of Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna. 1915 Novgorod

At the end of the 18th century, Empress Maria Feodorovna, the wife of Paul I, took under her personal guidance and reorganized charitable and educational institutions founded by Catherine II. She created a whole complex of educational and medical charitable institutions. Thus was founded the Office of Institutions of the Empress Maria – a huge structure that existed for 120 years, until 1917. Personal participation in matters of mercy by the representatives of the Imperial House saw the creation of charitable institutions inside the Imperial residences: in Lefortovo and Tsarskoye Selo, Gatchina, Pavlovsk, Oranienbaum, Peterhof, Livadia, Ilyinskoye, Ramon and Ostashevo.

The Romanovs founded several notable charity organizations, such as the Russian Red Cross and the Imperial Philanthropic Society, the largest charity in the Russian Empire. 

By the end of the 19th – early 20th centuries, charitable activities developed rapidly, which involved tens of thousands of people. The members of the Imperial House worked tirelessly in the field of mercy. The tsesarevich, and the grand dukes from early childhood assimilated their duties towards their subjects and, in particular, to those who needed care.


Unknown artist. Portrait of Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna.
1870 – early 1880s Oil on canvas (Novgorod Museum-Reserve)

Personal financial investments in charities of the last Russian emperor Nicholas II at the beginning of the 20th century were unprecedented. He personally donated sizable funds to charity, and during WWI he turned the Imperial residences into hospitals for sick and wounded soldiers. His consort Alexandra Feodorovna and their daughters Grand Duchesses Olga and Tatiana, as well as Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, Mother Superior of the Marfo-Mariinsky Convent of Mercy in Moscow, worked tirelessly in serving and caring for his subjects.

The members of the imperial family provided patronage and themselves established numerous charitable societies and institutions that were part of the Office of Institutions of the Empress Maria. These included educational institutions, homes for the disabled, orphanages, almshouses, and other social institutions that were in charge of several million empire nationals. One of the largest was the Committee of Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna to provide charitable assistance to families called to war.For the period from 1914 to 1916, the Committee provided assistance to 895 thousand people. 

The activities of the Imperial family were oriented to ensure that charity, while continuing to be a religious duty, also became a social and civic duty as well. Due to the wide dynastic ties, the most progressive Western European traditions were actively introduced into Russia, which contributed to the emergence of new forms and areas of charitable activity. 


The exhibition Russian Charity Under the Auspices of the Imperial House of Romanov runs until 24th March 2019, in the Grand Palace, Tsaritsyno, Moscow

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 8 December 2018

Chandeliers, Vases and Sculptures: Treasures of the Livadia Palace


On 1st November, 25 years ago, the Livadia Palace received the status of a museum. In 1974, the palace in which the Livadia sanatorium was located, opened its doors for the first time to visitors – an exhibition complex was created here that included recreated interiors of the Yalta conference of 1945 and various related exhibitions.

In 1985, Livadia marked the 40th anniversary of the Yalta Conference of the “big three: Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt”. The exhibition “The Crimean Conference of the Leaders of the Three Powers: the USSR, the USA and Great Britain” was held in the palace.

In July 1994, the museum exposition “The Romanovs in Livadia” opened in the halls of the second floor.

On the anniversary of the establishment of RIA Novosti, Crimea prepared a selection of photographs of the most valuable exhibits from the museum’s collection.


Livadia Palace

© RIA Novosti / Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 7 December 2018

Exhibition ‘Balls and Celebrations’ in the Yusupov Palace


On 5th December 2018 in the Nicholas Hall of the Yusupov Palace, the fourth exhibition of the project “The World of the Russian Nobility” opened its doors to visitors. The exhibition “Balls and Celebrations” presents the striking, colourful side of the life of the Russian nobility through the example of the venerable princely Yusupov family. The display, based on material from the State Hermitage Museum, contains 100 items, the majority of which came from the Yusupovs’ collection.

Welcoming the guests, Nina Vasilyevna Kukuruzova, Director of the Yusupov Palace, said: “Today we are opening the fourth exhibition in a project that has been going on now for seven years – a joint project between the Hermitage and the Hermitage that is devoted to the world of the Russian nobility. Social life occupied a very large place. It was more than just a way of passing the time: attending a ball was a continuation of the life that a nobleman lived – it was service to sovereign and country. This was an opportunity to resolve matters of state in a relaxed atmosphere. For example, it was during a ball at the Yusupovs that Alexander II and the French envoy Le Flo managed to agree to make peace.”


© The State Hermitage Museum. 2018


© The State Hermitage Museum. 2018

In his response, Mikhail Borisovich Piotrovsky, General Director of the State Hermitage, said: “The Hermitage Days are taking place now. The Hermitage has friends, partners and relatives. You are a close relative. It is terrific that we are celebrating together. The exhibition is wonderful, just the kind that there should be in a palace. In a palace you need to tell about how people live here, especially in a palace like this, where there is life. The Yusupov Palace is gradually returning to the Hermitage’s orbit. For a time, it seemed that if this is a living palace, then no museum life was possible. It turns out that it is possible. And a big thank you that we and your staff have been able to accomplish that.”

The exhibits on display immerse visitors in the atmosphere of the formal and festive life of Saint Petersburg’s high society, presenting a whole variety of ball costumes and accessories for them, explaining certain rules of behaviour at dances and telling about famous balls in a historical style. Chronologically the exhibition spans the period from the 1820s to the 1910s. Some of the items are on public display for the first time.

An illustrated scholarly catalogue has been prepared for the exhibition (Slavia publishing house, 2018).

The curators of the exhibition are Natalia Nekrasova, Irina Terentyeva, both researchers in the State Hermitage’s Department of the History of Russian Culture, and Valentina Nabok, head of the Head of the Curatorial Department at the Yusupov Palace.

The exhibition Balls and Celebrations runs until 30 March 2019, in the Nicholas Hall, Yusupov Palace, St. Petersburg

© State Hermitage Museum / Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 6 December 2018

Monument to Nicholas I Established in Volgograd


A monument to Emperor Nicholas I (1796-1855) has been established on the territory of a railway junction in Volgograd (formerly Tsaritsyn, 1589-1925; and Stalingrad, 1925-1961), the press service of the Southern Military District (South-East Military District) said on Thursday. 

A symbolic ribbon was cut by the head of the railway troops department for the Southern Military District, Colonel Yuri Hort and the hero of socialist labor, Colonel Alexander Shantsev.

The Railway Troops of the Russian Armed Forces were established by order of Nicholas I in August 1851. As a unit in the engineering corps of the Imperial Russian Army, it’s primary task was to ensure the defense of Russia. The Railway Troops Russian Armed Forces were designed to perform the tasks of rail services (preparation, construction, reconstruction and protection of the objects of railways). It remains the oldest such force in the world, and to this day, the professional holiday of the Troops is celebrated on 6th August.

In accordance with the document “Regulations on the Management of St. Petersburg – Moscow railway” was formed by 14 separate military-workers, 2 and 1 conductor’s telegraphic company. The total number reached 4340 people. 

The third son of Emperor Paul I and Maria Feodorovna, brother of Emperor Alexander I, father of Emperor Alexander II, Nicholas I served as emperor of the Russian Empire from 26 December (O.S. 14 December) 1825 to 2 March (O.S. 18 February) 1855.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 6 December 2018