The Rasputin Museum at the Yusupov Palace

The museum of one of the most influential figures for the imperial family, in the place in St. Petersburg where he was assassinated on the night between Friday 16 and Saturday 17 December: the basement of the Yusupov Palace.
Il Museo di Rasputin al Palazzo Yusupov
Il Museo di Rasputin al Palazzo Yusupov
The Museum of the religious mystic Rasputin in the palace of Prince Felix Yusupov

"I stood watching him drink, waiting for any moment he might collapse. But he continued to slowly sip his wine like a connoisseur. His face did not change, only from time to time he put his handkerchief to his throat as if he had some difficulty in swallow. He stood up and took a few steps. When I asked him if he didn't feel well, he replied: "Why, nothing, just a tickle in the throat...The goodness of Madeira", he observed "...give me some more ."

- Prince Felix Yusupov, remembering the night he assassinated Rasputin.

In December 1916, in a noble palace in St. Petersburg, the young Prince Yusupov, heir to the largest fortune in Russia and married to a cousin of the Romanov imperial family, spent a frustrating and probably terrifying night, desperately trying to kill the "near-immortal "Rasputin.

Rasputin was a Siberian religious mystic who was said to have extraordinary powers and could heal the sick. He managed to endear himself to the Tsar's family, in particular as a healer of their son Alexei who suffered from hemophilia.

Rasputin began to boast of his connections with the Winter Palace and to bestow his protection on crowds of postulants of all kinds whom he welcomed into his apartment in the center of the capital. His particularly close relationship with Tsarina Alexandra coupled with his eccentric appearance and reputation for extravagant and lewd behavior in public fueled scandalous rumors.

There were rumors about his ability to hypnotize women and when they blamed him for this he justified himself by saying that it was the females who wanted closeness to him and that only through sin can a state of grace be achieved.

While World War I was underway, the country and the government were on the verge of collapse. To make matters worse, it seemed that dear Nicholas II, already in difficulty due to the negative trend of the war and total incompetence on the battlefield, took advice from Rasputin. It was rumored that betrayal was behind the defeats and alluded to the Empress's German origins. Rasputin was also included in the group of German spies.

At the end of 1916, a group of nobles led by Prince Felix Yusupov decided to take matters into their own hands. Yusupov, together with the conspirators: the great duke Dmitri Pavlovich and the politician Vladimir Purishkevich invited Rasputin to the noble palace on the Moika to meet his young wife Irina suffering from health problems, but Irina was conveniently out of town...

Once at the palace, Rasputin was seated in a room with sweets, tea and wine. The conspirators were relieved to see Rasputin down several glasses of poisoned wine. However, they became increasingly concerned when the poison appeared to have no effect on the man.

In the end it took four bullets and a fall into the Neva River to kill Rasputin. His autopsy showed that his death was ultimately caused by drowning or hypothermia, indicating that he survived everything (poison and bullets) except the final fall into the freezing water.

Yusupov and his conspirators never confessed to the murder they committed. Only three months after the February Revolution, which led to the abdication of Nicholas II, Yusupov fled the country. Later he published some memoirs narrating the death of Grigory Rasputin. Rasputin's surviving daughter attempted to sue Yusupov and Pavlovich for damages related to the murder, but her claim, filed in Paris, was unsuccessful.

Over the years the Palace on the Moika became an educational center and is now a relatively intact museum, having survived the revolutionary and Soviet years. In the basement room, where the mad monk was killed, wax figures recreate his last moments. The rest of the building shows a rococo theater and some elegantly furnished rooms.
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