Oddly enough, today this palace is more closely associated with a certain visitor to this palace, and not the owner. The name of this visitor is Grigory Rasputin. It was in this marvelous palace that the “old seer” was killed.
After the murder of Grigory Rasputin the Yusupov Palace on the Moika has acquired the fame of “the most mystical place” in St. Petersburg.
The Yusupov Palace, a unique architectural ensemble of the XVIII-XX centuries, is one of the most visually stunning and glamorous palaces in Saint Petersburg – and this says a lot in a city where palaces literally step on each other. This is one of the few aristocratic mansions of St. Petersburg, where you can still see the original façade, suites, an art gallery, mini-theater, as well as luxury living quarters of the former owners.
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.
Yesterday we ate at the palace of Princess Youssoupoff. The marble staircase is regal and was brightly lit. The temperature is kept at 16 to 18 degrees throughout the palace, from the entrance to the last room. Subtropical plants and trees adorned every garden. One room mimicked a charming and rustic garden with rocks and caves, clear water streaming with a pleasant murmur. Liveried lackeys were in large numbers in the stairs and in the front room. The golden halls, where we were greeted by the princess, had a thousand precious objects and a better taste. The dining room is a masterpiece of architecture. There is a beautiful vault above it, leaning on a myriad of elegant Corinthian columns of remarkable grandeur. Next to the dining room is the garden that I have described. Hidden behind a curtain, and in another room, there were thirty musicians, all servants of the house, who played and played with great delicacy and intelligence.
Juan Valera, Obras Completas, 1867
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 hotel of Prince Yusupov, situated upon the Moika Canal, is one of the many splendid mansions in St. Petersburg. The grand suite of apartments is adorned with a collection of pictures by the old masters, some few of which are of signal merit, especially two exquisite Claudes, a Parmegiano, and a Sasso Ferrato. In the Salle des Antiquites were also some valuable objects of art, particularly an antique foot, while statues by Canova and other modern sculptors, with groups in ivory and alabaster, and collections of costly china and silver ornaments, &c., were dispersed about the rooms. Also two portfolios beneath glass cases, containing original letters from Peter the Great and Catherine II to some "Excellence" of this princely house.
Lady Elizabeth Rigby Eastlake, A residence on the shores of the Baltic, 1841
The palace's last owner was Prince Boris grandson, the young Felix Yusupov-Sumarokov-Elston, who married Nicholas II niece. 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 St. Petersburg we had a house on the Moika. Its exterior was chiefly remarkable for its fine proportions. A very handsome semicircular inner court with a colonnade led to the garden. The house was a present from Catherine the Great to my great-great-grandmother, Princess Tatiana. It was a real museum, filled to the brim with works of art, where you could wonder about forever and never cease to marvel. Only some of the drawing rooms, ballrooms and galleries had retained their 18th century appearance.
Felix Yusupov, Memoirs, 1934
It was here on the Moika that Felix Yusupov, Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, State Duma deputy Vladimir Purishkevich and their friends attempted on December 17, 1916 first to poison and then to shoot Grigory Rasputin. From here they drove hid badly wounded yet still alive body and dropped it under the ice on the river.
Rasputin's body was dug up at Tsarskoe Selo on the night of March 22-23. It had been embalmed and looked as if still alive. It was stripped and insulted by the soldiers, afterwards put on a motor- trolley and brought to the Imperial stables in Petrograd and burnt at Udilni, fifteen miles north of Petrograd, between 3 and 7 yesterday morning. When pulled out of the Little Neva the body was found, on official examination, to have three shot wounds — one in the side, which was mortal; one in the back; and one on the forehead, which was discoloured by the powder.
The Russian Diary of an Englishman, 1917