Friday, July 17, 2009

Remembering the Romanovs in Happier Times

This week in history, Czar Nicholas II and his family were executed in Yekaterinburg, Russia where they were in exile. Last year, on the 90th anniversary of that dark day in 1918, I posted a story, Today in Russian History. . . But now let's take a look at happier times, a glimpse into the Romanovs' family life at their summer palace in Yalta.

Last September, I was in Crimea, that peninsula of Ukraine that dangles down into the Black Sea. And when the chance came to visit Yalta, once the Riveria of Russia, I said Da in a flash. I had always wanted to visit Livadia Palace, not only because of fascination with the royal family but also because of the Yalta Conference there 30 years later when Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt met. More about them later.

Say, care to join me for a tour of the palace? I think you'll enjoy the photos ~ although capturing images of glass-covered photos hanging on palace walls does have it's limitations. Still, we get the idea.

The Romanov family. You'll remember Czar Nicholas II, his wife Empress Alexandra, their four daughters and long-awaited son, Alexei, heir to the throne. (Click on photos to enlarge.)

Be it ever so humble, there's no place like. . .Livadia Palace. This overlooks the Black Sea, semi-visible in the distance.

Oh, time out while we get our bearings. . .

Here on the Crimean peninsula, Yalta (2) is the southeastern edge of the tip. You'll forgive me, will you not, for recycling my map of Crimea from other posts? Those various markings are places I visited last fall. . .

Back at the royal ranch, here we are on 2nd floor.

This is Czar Nicholas' study. They say that he had no personal secretary and handled it all himself. Wonder where he would set his computer? Or FAX machine? Or. . . iPhone? Wonder if young Aleksei ever played under his dad's desk, a la JFK, Jr?

Looking east toward the center of Yalta.

Son Aleksei with his tutor, studying Russian language.

Girls with a tutor. They studied French and English.

Daughter Anastasia minding her knitting. Kids doing handiwork - so useful.

Family dinner table. Nice china, crystal and silver. I think Martha Stewart would join me in nudging the goblets a bit over to the right. Then again, who am I to argue with the royal setter of tables? Say, have to wonder how those dishes held up in the dishwasher. Oh that's right, their dishwasher was the two-legged variety. So no worries about that gold filigree.

Here is the family Bible. Seeing this tugged at my heartstrings. They say that the Romanov family were devout believers. Out back of the palace is a little chapel with it's own gold cupola.

Welcome to the music room, with a panorama of the city.

Sheet music and long-play albums in the Music Room.

Downstairs in a quiet hallway, here are trophies from the czar's deer hunting.

And. . . here are some very special photos of the Romanov family.

The Romanov family lived at Livadia four times, the last in 1914. Surely some of their happiest, most carefree hours were spent there near the sea. As politics turned unpleasant and Czar Nicholas abdicated the throne in March of 1917, the family requested that they be permitted to live at Livadia as private citizens. But their request was denied and that summer they were evacuated to the Ural Mountains.

* * * * *

Fast forward to 1945 and things around Livadia looked a bit different.

Here's yours truly with the Big Three. They met here at Livadia Palace for the Yalta Conference in 1945 as World War II was wrapping up. Apparently after Nazi occupation during the war, this palace was not quite presentable for company. Our tour guide said that a train load of furnishings came from Moscow - or was it St Petersburg? - with everything needed for the conference including door knobs and light fixtures.

This is a place rich with history. A place were Russian history, Soviet history, US History and the history of the World War all intersect. I loved seeing room where Roosevelt stayed, just off the main meeting room here. He was in such poor health and died months later. So I have lots more photos of Livadia - mostly related to the Yalta Conference. And that's a topic for another blog post.


Jeanette said...

Thanks for the great photos and glimpse into history. This year, I was surprised to learn that the Romanovs had been "canonized" by the Orthodox church. I now have a small (paper) replica of the icon of them that I saw in a beautiful wooden church in Prebrezhnaya, Russia. The icon has a red background...the symbolic color for Christian martyrs.

Eileen said...

Okay, Jeanette - that's interesting. I had read about their being canonized but thanks for the explanation...I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for that. I'll have to learn a thing or two about icons. Interesting about the red background. Thanks for the info - stuff new to me! You know, I'll have to revisit the photo I have of the family chapel out behind the seems that there's something special on that about their names - w/ titles or some such. Might be connected to the being canonized...