Hearing soundtrack of Anastacia cartoon "Once upon december" on the radio suddenly made me remember a very important part from my childhood. This song really makes me feel different. Reminds winter, reminds Russian royal family and most importantly reminds Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia. When I first watched this cartoon I was almost nine and I sincerely believed that Anastasia escaped from enemies, stayed alive and was living happily after. For those who have not seen this amazing cartoon Anastasia is the youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, the last sovereign of Imperial Russia, and his wife Alexandra Fyodorovna. As most of the princesses she had been living a luxury life until she with her three sisters, brother, mother, father, family doctor and three servants were murdered on July 17, 1918, by forces of the Bolshevik secret police. Rumors of her possible escape have circulated since this tragic event.
In 2010 despite of heavy work for university entrance exam preparation I found time to visit St. Petersburg. This amazing city really impressed me especially by its maqnificent architecture, well-known museums and broad streets. I was very happy finally to be able to visit city where I can get more information about Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia whom I only knew from the cartoon "Anastasia". In the State Hermitage Museum(shown in the picture below) that I visited straight after landing I could not get much information about the Duchess either because my attention was paid to the breathtaking fine art or beauty of the building itself.
Next day I woke up quite early(
not usual for me but weather in St. Petersburg is too cold in February and makes you wake up earlier than you are used to) had a light breakfast and left hotel to visit Catherine Palace in a place called Tsarskoe Selo to see famous "Amber room"(shown in the picture below) that has a chamber decoration of amber panels backed with gold leaves and mirrors. This elegant room had a very tragic history. In 1716, the king of Prussia
presented the Amber Room, a masterpiece of
Baroque art, to Russian Tsar Peter the Great. Catherine the Great later
commissioned a new generation of craftsmen to embellish the room and
moved it from
the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg to her new summer abode in Tsarskoye
Selo. When Hitler invaded the
Soviet Union in 1941, his troops overran Tsarskoye Selo, dismantled the panels
of the oversized jewel box, packed them up in 27 crates, and shipped them
to Königsberg, Germany (today's Kaliningrad). In January 1945, after air raids
and a savage ground assault on the city, the room's trail was lost. Other rooms in Catherine palace differ from each other by colour and interior design however, all of them are simply fascinating.
After I left Catherine Palace when waiting the driver I talked to the woman working there as a guide. She said that she was very sorry that another palace is under construction so I would not be able to see the interior design of this amiable building. To be honest after a long walk in the Catherine Palace I was not really interested in a walk in another palace without a lunch break but what she told me later could not let me leave Tsarskoe Selo. Just a mile away from Catherine Palace, a palace where the Romanovs-an imperial family lived last period of their life was located(shown in the picture below).
In 30 minutes I was already in the building trying to get permission to get in. It took a little time but tour in the building was worth that time. Building was a white palace with nothing special about architecture. The most amazing fact was that I saw a room where Tsar Nicholas IIof Russia was working. The room was two floors with books all around the walls. Other rooms were full of pictures and dresses of four Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia and Duke Alexei of Russia. Two women working in a museum told me very interesting facts about life of this royal family. Facts that can not be found in the internet. After all I have heard I left the palace of the Romanovs very upset, confused and angry with injustice of the history.
At the beginning of the 20th century the Russian industrial employee worked on average an 11 hour day (10 hours on Saturday). Conditions in the factories were extremely harsh and little concern was shown for the workers' health and safety. Attempts by workers to form trade unions were resisted by the factory owners and in 1903, a priest, Father George Gapon, formed the Assembly of Russian Workers. Within a year it had over 9,000 members.
1904 was a bad year for Russian workers. Prices of essential goods rose so quickly that real wages declined by 20 per cent. When four members of the Assembly of Russian Workers were dismissed at the Putilov Iron Works, Gapon called for industrial action. Over the next few days over 110,000 workers in St. Petersburg went out on strike. In an attempt to settle the dispute, George Gapon decided to make a personal appeal to Nicholas II last emperor of Russia, Grand Prince of Finland and titular King of Poland . He drew up a petition outlining the workers' sufferings and demands. This included calling for a reduction in the working day to eight hours, an increase in wages and an improvement in working conditions. Over 150,000 people signed the petition and on 22nd January, 1905, Gapon led a large procession of workers to the Winter Palace in order to present the petition to Nicholas II. When the procession of workers reached the Winter Palace it was attacked by the police and the Cossacks. Over 100 workers were killed and more than 300 wounded. Starting with this tragic day armed uprose against Tsarism and it brought end of the Romanovs dynasty. With a war against Germany nation was staved apart from the royal family so more and more people got angry with every single day and once they started to rebel against the Romanovs. Situation was so harsh that Tsar had to addicate the throne and the family was under the arrest until 1918 when all the members of the Romanovs family were shot.
Just two days after my visit to Tsarskoe Selo I visited the Aleksandr Nevsky church(shown in the picture below) where the bodies were buried. My childhood hope that Anastasia escaped and was alive left me the moment I saw names of all family members on the memorial stones. How sad that cartoon I have been watching for so long was just an imagination of the author. History sometimes plays hard with historic figures. Maybe this is the price for ultimate fame and loyalty.
Some interesting videos related to the Romanovs:
6 November, 2011