Thursday, August 24, 2017

A Romanov Tour: In the Steps of the Romanovs

"The tour will focus on the final 1.5 years (1916-1918) in the life of the Russia's last imperial family Romanov. Their photographs, diaries and letters will be used to help us relive their experiences, from the revolution torn Petrograd to the "Red" Ekaterinburg. We will start in Tsarskoe Selo with their wartime efforts at the infirmaries, their daily attendances of prayer services at local churches, their visits to orphanages, and burials of their beloved patients. We will also visit places where they went regularly, such as Anna Vyrubova's house, Peterhof, and Yelagin Palace.  We will enter the Yusupov Palace where their "Friend" Grigori Rasputin was murdered in late 1916, and take a peek at the apartment where he lived just prior to his death.  We will relive the Tsar’s abdication and retrace the steps of his sad last ride from the imperial train station to the Alexander Palace. We will experience the family's life under house arrest by walking around the Alexander Park - where they planted a garden, broke ice on canals, cut trees for firewood and took walks followed by guards.

During our time in St Petersburg we will visit additional locations, including the cathedral where the remains of the imperial family are currently entombed. We will then follow the Romanovs to Siberia and enter the Governor’s mansion in Tobolsk, where the family lived in captivity for almost a year. We will then head back towards Urals through Tyumen, making a stop in Pokrovskoe village, Rasputin's hometown. We will stand in the same spot the Romanovs stood - in front of Rasputin's house, when on Easter of 1918 they changed horses during their transfer to Ekaterinburg. We will then travel to Alapaevsk, where Grand Duchess Elisabeth, the Tsarina’s sister, and other members of the Romanov family, were imprisoned and ultimately murdered.  Our journey will conclude in Ekaterinburg, where "The House of Special Purpose" - the last prison of the last Russian imperial family - once stood. We will pay respects in the exact spot they were murdered 100 years ago, and remember and honour them at their original burial site in the woods, then outside the city limits."

The tour is being led by Romanov Historian Helen Azar who is a former biochemist turned librarian, historian and translator. She coauthored several articles on identification of the remains of the last Russian Imperial family. While attending library school, Helen did an internship at Tsarskoe Selo Museum's Rare Book Department, where she worked with the library collection that belonged to all Russian emperors from Catherine the Great to Nicholas II. Helen has been researching and translating Romanov diaries and letters for approximately ten years, having published five books from original writings of the last Tsar's four daughters. Within the field, Helen is considered the ultimate "voice" of the Romanov grand duchesses. Currently she is working on a book based on the last diary of Grand Duke Michael - the brother of Nicholas II, as well as two other Romanov books using new primary sources from the Russian archives.

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