We can say that the Moika Palace (also known as Yusupov Palace) is the only royal palace in Russia which has direct access to urban. The exterior of the structure is such simple that if the color of it would be different, or people wouldn't come and go in it, then you might not notice its presence at all. However, besides the simple look of its exterior, the inside is not much dissimilar from other royal palaces in Saint Petersburg, in fact, it's quite majestic and luxurious.
Moika Palace which was once the prime residence of the Yusupov family in Saint Petersburg locate near the Moika River at the northwest of the city. The palace might not compare to other Saint Petersburg's palaces in size but from the point of historical background and art collections is equal.
Precisely at the place that The Moika Palace rest now, there was a wooden palace belonged to the Tsarevna Praskovia Ivanovna, one of the Peter the Great's close relatives. That wooden palace sold to the Peter Ivanovich Shuvalov. Andrey Shuvalov, his heir, hired French architect and Hermitage museum painting curator, Jean-Baptiste Vallin de la Mothe to build a new palace over the old wooden one. However that De La Mothe design the original Moika Palace, but over the years various artists such as Andrey Mikhailov II, Andrey Beloborodov, Emilio Sala, Bernard de Simon, Vasily Kenal, Aleksandr Stepanov modified the design of the palace. Nikolai Yusupov purchased the palace in 1830 and appointed Andrey Mikhailov II to redesign it. He is the person who accountable for today's look of the Moika Palace.
The Yusupov family were remarkably wealthy and famous for their art collection and generosity. It's in their time that Moika Palace became known as Yusupov Palace. More than 40000 art piece, jewelry, and paintings from famous artists of that time like Dutch painter Rembrandt, and sculptures utilized to design the palace which of course after the Russia Revolution most of them sent to other museums like Hermitage.
The Moika Palace also witness one of the most famous historical murders in Russia which was Grigori Rasputin’s assassination in December of 1916. Rasputin was a Russian Mystic who self-named himself as a Holy Man. There were rumors that he has a healing power which was never approved or denied. He also was a very close friend with the royal family of Yusupov.
In December 16th, 1916, Felix Yusupov heir to Yusupov enormous heritage, accompanying with Vladimir Purishkevich and Dmitri Pavlovich, invite Rasputin to the Moika Palace. They count Rasputin as a grave threat for Russia security, plotted to kill him that very night. At first, Felix gave Rasputin some wine to affect him, after that, he shot him in his rib. When Rasputin tried to escape and successfully exited from the side door which opened to the street, Purishkevich shot him in the back. When they carry the body inside, they shot the third bullet in his head from close range. They threw Rasputin's corpse in Malaya Neva River outside of the city. Because the entire story isn't clear enough, the palace chose a room assigned to the case and brought all the pieces of evidence and documents in it, so visitors and tourists would invest famous assassination of Rasputin themselves. This room is one of the most popular sections of the palace.
The Russian Revolution happened shortly after the murder of Rasputin, and with Soviet got in power, noble residences and palaces such as the Moika Palace, The Marble Palace, Stroganov Palace, and The Menshikov Palace got seized. The palace was given to the city educational committee in 1925, for them to use it as a club for their employee and educators.
Today the Moika Palace is a magnificent museum under the supervision of the city educator board and an excellent host for tourists all around the world. The palace alongside the architecture, its interior, and amusing historical past have put up even more attractive plans for visitants. The palace building which is a little bit more modernized than other royal palaces has a home theater, a home church, a vast gallery, and a park belongs to it.
The foot track of the upper classes and nobles’ family in Saint Petersburg were all visible around the theaters, musicals, and operas that Yusupov family hosted in their home theater hall. The home theater which added to the palace during the nineteen-century restoration of the place has been hosting famous artists such as Pauline Viardot the 19th-century legendary violinist, The Chaliapin and Pavlova's performance, Yuriy Temirkanov's symphony on its stage. Today as like before, the home theater host lots of performances during the year and it's open for anyone who purchased the ticket of that particular program.
Vasily Kanal designed and built the home church with Basilica style which was popular in that time, inside the palace when Nicholas Yusupov appointed him to reconstruct the place in 1878. The church witnessed historical events like Printsessa Nikolayevna's wedding, her son's baptism, and the royal grandchild Irina's baptism. The church was operational until 1917, and even though it was open till 1926, no ceremony was taken place there. In 1930 the church nature meaning changed and shifted into a lecture room instead.
The main restoration of the church began in 2005 to recover its original look. The twelve apostles painted on the dome ceiling, and decorations back the altar wall was once back. The church beside its aim as a museum which drew lots of tourists' attention, served daily religious ceremonies, and for those who reserved it, performs wedding and baptism celebration as well.
Other than the main Yusupov museum, the home theater, and the home church, there is Konyushenny Wing gallery which was once part of the main building, and also the backdoor park which its access to the palace is now blocked. However, none of them have direct entrance to the museum, but both of which are under the direction of the Yusupov Palace management.
In Russia tours program and visiting Saint Petersburg' magnificent plus majestic palaces, and with all of these tourist attractions around the city, visiting the Yusupov urban palace might be a fresh flavor to your journey in Russia. However, the remarkable interior of the palace, well-filled museum of it, the arts and pieces of jewelry, the Rasputin section, and many more charms alongside it, would be enough for the Moika Palace to be an outstanding plan in Russia tours' lists. Visiting this palace and its museum and if you'd be lucky, watching one of the performances in the home theater (if it were any) is highly recommended to all.
Yusupov Palace locates on the embankment of Neva River. The palace is less than 10 minutes walk away from the St.Isaac Cathedral, and 15 minutes of walk to the Nevsky Prospect. Most of the palaces that we mentioned earlier are located on Nevsky Street.
Moika Palace is one of the few urban palaces which alone is quite attractive for people who visit Russia, but with the background of the palace and the vital part it played in the history of Russia, it became one of the main attractions of St. Petersburg.