Tuesday 26 September 2006

Tsarina Maria Feodorovna reburial sites in St Petersburg

Empress Maria Feodorovna

Today the Esbern Snare arrives in St Petersburg and Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary arrive tomorrow. It is uncertain whether President Vladimir Putin or Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen will attend - so far it looks as if the frosty relationship between Russia and Denmark in recent times will mean they do not attend. Neither is the Queen attending because there are various protocol issues to do with state visits and other issues between the two countries. The organisation of the reburial and Frederik's and Mary's visit represents a thawing of relations, so interesting times at various levels.

The reburial program in St Petersburg is designed to emphasise the first journey the then Princess Dagmar took on arriving in Russia 140 years ago to the day. Before marrying Alexander, Dagmar converted to Russian Orthodoxy and took the name Maria Feodorovna Romanova upon marriage. Russia became beloved to her. Before being evacuated in 1919 Maria Feodorovna worked (with her daughter Olga) for the Red Cross helping the Russian soldiers who were fighting in the Crimean war. Other historical tendrils: as Dowager Empress she knew Rasputin and knew how damaging he and Nicholas II's wife Alexandra were to the future of the Imperial Family. She is said to have never really been 'right' about the murder of her family, understandably enough, this would be a very difficult thing to be reconciled to.

Tuesday, 26 September:
At 8 a.m. the coffin of Empress Maria Feodorovna on board the Danish navy vessel Esbern Snare will pass Kronstadt at the entrance to St. Petersburg. From Kronstadt the vessel will be saluted.

After this Esbern Snare will arrive at the Vasilevsky Island, where the coffin of Empress Maria Feodorovna will be transferred to a Russian vessel. which will carry the coffin to the Peterhof Castle outside St. Petersburg. Later that day Esbern Snare will proceed to the centre of St. Petersburg and call at the bank of the Neva.

At the place of call at Peterhof the official reception will take place in presence of the Governor of St. Petersburg. The Danish-Russian Honour Guard will bring the coffin ashore.

The coffin will be brought by hearse to the nearby Alexander Nevsky Chapel in the Alexandriya Park at Peterhof.
By noon the ceremony will end with a short service in the Alexander Nevsky Chapel.
In the afternoon the Alexander Nevsky Chapel will be open to the public.

Wednesday, 27 September:
In the daytime the Alexander Nevsky Chapel will be open to the public.

The Crown Prince Couple and Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Møller will arrive in St. Petersburg.

Thursday, 28 September:
In the morning the coffin of Empress Maria Feodorovna will be carried out of the Alexander Nevsky Chapel by the Danish-Russian Honour Guard.

The coffin will be transported by motorcade via the Catherine Palace in Tsarskoe Selo to St. Petersburg. There will be a short ceremony on the parade-ground of the Catherine Palace.

Tsarskoe Selo is yet another magnificient summer residence of the Russian Tsars situated approximately 20 km to the south of St. Petersburg. Peter the Great presented the area as a gift to his wife, who later became Catherine I, and the palace was named “Catherine Palace”. The palace was in its prime under Catherine the Great (II) towards the end of the 18th century. The Catherine Palace, which is surrounded by a large park (3000 hectares), is especially known for its unique amber chamber. It was removed by the Germans during the Second World War and has not been recovered. The amber chamber was recreated on the occasion of the 300 year anniversary of St. Petersburg in 2003 thanks to a donation from the German company “Ruhrgas”. Also the Danish company, “Velux”, supported the restoration of amber effects of both Danish and German origin from the original Amber Chamber. On her way to St. Petersburg from Peterhof in 1866 Princess Dagmar paid a visit to Tsarskoe Selo and the Catherine Palace. The reburial cortege will take the same route.

The motorcade arrives at St. Isaac´s Cathedral, where the Danish-Russian Honour Guard will carry the coffin into the cathedral.

At noon a service will be held in St. Isaac´s Cathedral conducted by His Holiness Patriarch of the Russian Othodox Church, Alexey II. The Crown Prince Couple, the Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Møller and the Danish delegation will participate in the service and in the following reburial ceremony.

St. Isaac´s Cathedral has the fourth biggest dome in the world after St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome, St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and Maria del Fiori in Florence. The cuppola is 22 m. in diameter. The 101 m. tall cathedral can accommodate 7,000 visitors. The present building with its 17 m. tall and 114 tons heavy monolitpillars was constructed over a period of 40 years (from 1818 to 1858). It served as the dome of St. Petersburg till 1937, when the cathedral was no longer used for services. From then on the cathedral served as an anti-religious museum, in which the famous Foucault pendulum was displayed as a demonstration of the rotation of the earth. After Gorbachev’s perestroika services were again permitted to be held in St. Isaac´s Cathedral, although today the cathedral is only used for religious services on special occasions.

As part of the reburial the Russian Patriarch will conduct a memorial service in St. Isaac´s Cathedral on 28 September. The Crown Prince Couple will attend the reburial ceremony here.

At the end of the service the Honour Guard will carry the coffin to the hearse and the motorcade will drive to Saints Peter and Paul Fortress.

From the Petrovsky Gates the coffin of Empress Maria Feodorovna is carried in procession to the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral. The coffin is carried into the cathedral under accompaniment by the Band of the Royal Danish Life Guards and the Russian Admiral Orchestra.

In the afternoon His Holiness Patriarch Alexey II will conduct the reburial ceremony in Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral.

The Saints Peter and Paul Fortress is the oldest work of engineering in St. Petersburg. It was built on the Hare Island, the smallest of the 42 islands on which St. Petersburg is situated in the delta of the Neva. The fortress was founded on 27 May 1703 and this date is considered the birthday of St. Petersburg.

In the middle of the Saints Peter and Paul Fortress is the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral, which was built from 1712 to 1733 by the architect Domenico Trezzini. The gilded spire, which is 122,5 m. tall, is still the tallest architechtural work in town. The Cathedral is the burial church of the Russian Tsars from Peter the Great to Nicholas II and his family, who were buried here in 1998. In the chapel known as the Grand-Ducal Vault 13 members of the Imperial Family have been buried up to 1917. As the latest, the Grand Duke Vladimir Kirilovich was buried in the Grand-Ducal Vault in 1992.

After the reburial ceremony in Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral the delegations and invited guests will meet at the Ethnographic Museum of St. Petersburg, where a memorial banquet will be held in the Marble Hall.

Following a concert in the State Academic Capella in the evening the Crown Prince Couple and the Danish Foreign Minister will leave St. Petersburg.

Choral singing was an institution closely linked to the Russian tsarist court, and Peter the Great had already established his own orchestra when the city was founded. The present building dates from 1889 and the concert hall seats 803 people. Today the State Academic Capella is an institution concerned with concerts, education and information. The institution has its own choir and a symphony orchestra.

The Crown Prince and Crown Princess will attend a memorial concert on 28 September at the State Academic Orchestra. On 26 September the State Academic Orchestra will also be the setting for a concert with the Royal Guard Band and the Admiralty Orchestra.

It was at Peterhof that the Danish Princess Dagmar on 26 September 1866 first set foot on Russian soil. When the Imperial Couple spent their summer in Peterhof, they mostly stayed in a “cottage” in the Alexandria Park adjacent to Peterhof. The nearby Alexander Nevsky Chapel (“the Gothic Chapel”), where Empress Maria Feodorovna’s coffin will be on display until 28 September, served as the couple’s private church during their stays at Peterhof. The “Cottage” is now a museum and is open to the public. Among other items it contains a collection of Danish porcelain.

Anichkov is among the original stone buildings erected along the Nevsky Prospekt (dating from the middle of the 18th century - see both photos for different views of the building) at the Fontanka River. The Palace was the setting for a significant part of Empress Maria Feodorovna’s life in Russia. Anichkov was presented to her and Alexander as a wedding gift and they lived in the palace as Grand Duke and Grand Duchess. Even after Maria Feodorovna became Empress she preferred Anichkov to the Winter Palace. After the death of Alexander III Maria Fedorovna remained at Anichkov as Empress Dowager. After the revolution the palace was used as a children´s centre (the Pioneer Palace). Now the palace is called the “Palace for Creative Youth” as the term “pioneer” has disappeared along with the Soviet System.

On the occasion of the reburial a photo exhibition named “Dagmar and Denmark” dedicated to Empress Maria Fedorovna will be displayed at the Anichkov Palace.

The Winter Palace, founded in 1762 by the architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli, served as winter residence for the Russian Imperial Family up to the revolution in 1917. The Hermitage Museum consists of five buildings, including the Winter Palace and the Hermitage Theatre, which was formerly the Court Theatre.

The Hermitage is considered the world’s greatest art collection including over three million art effects. Visitors to the Hermitage are at the same time able to see a number of parade halls and private chambers from the period of the Russian tsars.

In connection with the reburial the Crown Prince will open an exhibition at the Hermitage displaying works of the Danish court painter Laurits Tuxen, arranged in cooperation with the Danish National Gallery. The exhibition includes several paintings from Danish collections.

A painting. left, of the wedding of Maria Feodorovna and Alexander. Dagmar's parents, Christian IX and Queen Louise, did not attend Dagmar's wedding because they thought they would not be able to reciprocate the lavish celebrations of the Russian Imperial court.

Right, Dagmar with her sister Queen Mary in their home in Denmark after Maria Feodorovna evacuated from Russia and later settled there during her last years.

Reburial of Empress Maria Feodorovna - official website
Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral - the burial site of the Imperial Family

Hare Island and the Saints Peter and Paul Fortress. The final resting place of Dagmar, Princess of Denmark and Tsarina Maria Feodorovna of Russia. Perhaps we can say she is still connected to Denmark through the currents of the Baltic Sea which touches both places.



Blogger Chrisbev said...

The second to last picture actually shows Empress Marie with her sister Queen Alexandra of England, not Queen Mary. Queen Mary was married to Alexandra's son King George V.

12:36 am  

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