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Last Emperor


155 years ago, Nicholas II, the last emperor of Russia was born at the Alexander Palace of Tsarskoe Selo on 18 (O.S. 6) May 1866.

The great building with its refined interiors and collections had a distinct effect on him: the history of the palace was a part of the history of his family.

On 14 November 1894 Nicholas married Princess Alix of Hesse (later Empress Alexandra Fiodorovna) and moved to the Alexander Palace, the favourite residence of the imperial family. 'Words cannot express how delightful it is to live as a couple in such a fine place as Tsarskoe', Nicholas wrote in his diary. He decided to have the left wing of the palace refurbished as private apartments.

During Nicholas II's reign, all the notable anniversaries of the new century were celebrated at Tsarskoe Selo: the bicentenary of St Petersburg in 1903; the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Poltava in 1909; 200 years of the Tsarskoe Selo imperial residence in 1910; the tercentenary of the House of Romanov in 1913. The last architectural complex constructed in Nicholas II’s time was the Our Lady Feodorovskaya Imperial cathedral and associated Fiodorov (Fiodorovsky) Gorodok not far from the Alexander Palace.