Glimpses of the glittering world of the tsars
sway over one sixth of the earth’s surface and the tsars left behind them an astonishing legacy – from the entire city of St Petersburg, to the treasures of the Kremlin, the Mariinsky and Bolshoi ballets, and one of the greatest art collections the world has seen.
You can get an insight into this imperial world at a new exhibition on the connections between the Romanovs and the British Royal family, which opens at the Queen’s Gallery on Friday. Meanwhile, another at the Science Museum explores the gruesome details of the 1918 murders. But for a true taste of Romanov Russia, you need to see it for yourself. Here – in chronological order – is our guide to the legacy of the Romanovs. Following false accusations of treason, the Romanovs were exiled to remote corners of Russia. They eventually found sanctuary inside the walls of the Ipatiev Monastery in Kostroma, one of the ancient towns of the country’s Golden Ring. It was here that in 1613 Mikhail, the first Romanov tsar, received the news that he had been made Russia’s monarch (ipatievsky-monastery.ru). From Mikhail in 1613 to Nicholas II in 1896 the coronations of all Russia’s Romanov monarchs took place under the five gold domes of the Assumption Cathedral in Moscow’s Kremlin. The cathedral is also the seat of the Russian Orthodox Church and home to some of the most precious icons and frescoes in the country. Tickets to the Kremlin Museums (£6) include entry to all the churches inside the complex (kreml. ru/en-Us/about-museums/kremlin). The most ambitious of all the Romanovs – Peter the Great – founded the city that was named after him on a windswept swamp. The first building was a small log hut. Constructed in just three days in 1703 it marks the foundation of Russia’s new imperial city. Today protected from the elements by a brick pavilion, the cabin is open to the public and forms part of the Russian Museum. Admission: £3 (en.rusmuseum.ru/cabin-of-peter-1). The Catherine Palace in Tsarskoye Selo, just south of St Petersburg, was the Romanov summer residence and its showpiece is Peter the Great’s famous Amber Room. The chamber constructed entirely from amber panels and gold leaf was gifted to the tsar by the King of Prussia in 1716. What you see is not the original – the first panels were looted by the Germans during the Second World War – but the reconstruction, which took 24 years to complete. Admission to the palace: £8.50 (eng.tzar.ru). Opening at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace on Friday, this exhibition ranges from thank-you jewels exchanged following a 100-course banquet enjoyed by the future Nicholas I and William IV, to works from the collection of Romanov art assembled by George V as a reminder of his cousins after their deaths. Until April 28 2019. Admission: £12 (royalcoll ection.org.uk). The Science Museum has assembled X-rays of the remains of Nicholas II and his family, extracts from their personal diaries and jewellery found at the scene of their murder and examines the role of forensic science in solving the mysteries surrounding the end of the Romanovs. Until March 24 2019. Admission free: (science museum.org.uk).