Yusupov Palace on Moika
When you cross the small Potseluev Bridge embellished with granite obelisks, take note of the yellow building with white columns on the opposite side of the river Moika (architects Jean-Baptiste Vallin de la Mothe and Andrei Mikhailov, Junior).
The building acquired its appearance mainly in the 1760s, but was later subject to reconstruction. Especially noteworthy in its architecture and design is the luxurious hall with white columns and sophisticated interior décor. A light colonnade running round the sides of the hall, the finely worked gilded chandeliers, the decorative moulding, and the murals on the walls an dthe ceiling. This interior was created in the 1830s by the architect Andrei Mikhailov, Junior.
In the years before the revolution of 1917 this palace belonged to Prince Felix Yusupov, one of the richest families in Russia. The family dates back to the 16th century. It was founded by Khan Yusuf, ruler of the mighty Nogai Horde which roamed the area from the Volga to the Ob. His great-grandson, Khan Abdul Murza, was converted to Christianity under the name of Dmitri and moved to Moscow. In the early 1680s he was granted the title of Prince Yusupov. His son, Grigory, rose to the rank of full general and was given land and a house on the Fontanka by the tsar. His great-grandson, Boris Yusupov, bought the palace on the Moika in 1830. On his instructions the architect Andrei Mikhailov the Second added a wing along the embankment to the old three-story palace. The wing contained a dance-hall, hall of white columns, and the red and blue drawing rooms. The palace's last owner was Prince Boris's grandson, the young Felix Yusupov-Sumarokov-Elston, who married Nicholas II's niece.
In Russia Yusupov owned 57 palaces, including four in St. Petersburg. The palace on the Moika was prince’s favorite residence in the capital. Yusopov was not only known for his wealth but also for his eccentricity. Once when he was in Italy he admired a marble staircase in one of the palaces. When the owner refused to sell the staircase, the prince promptly bought the entire residence for a fabulous sum of money but took from it only the staircase of white Carrera marble which leads up to Yusupov’s private theater. In this theater many outstanding Russian and foreign artists gave performances. In the spring of 1836, the premiere of the first act of Mikhail Glinka’s opera Life for the Tsar (Ivan Susanin) took place here with the composer himself signing one of the parts.
The scene of the Rasputin tragedy was the Palace Yusupov, a long building with twenty-six windows on each floor, overlooking the Moika Canal.
The Russian Diary of an Englishman, Albert Stopford
He [Rasputin] was invited to the Yusupov Palace on the Moika. There were said to be six young men of prominence at the dinner and after drinking together one of them handed a revolver to Rasputin and told him to shoot himself. He took the revolver, but fired instead at the man who had given it to him…
The Independent, January 15, 1917
After the assassination in this palace of the retainer of Nicholas II, the adventurer Grigory Rasputin (December 1916), Yusupov emigrated from Russia. After the October Revolution the palace became the property of the government. In Soviet times, it housed the Community Center for Education Professionals.