Anastasia Romanov might as well be Russia’s most famous historical figure in Western Culture, what with the eponymous animated movie and Broadway musical. But which places around Saint Petersburg do you need to visit to walk in the steps of the most famous of Grand Duchesses? Follow this guide to find all about the places where she lived… and where she rests.
Anastasia Romanov, just like her sisters before her, her brother after her and many other members of the Imperial family, was born in Peterhof Palace. The story goes than when Tsar Nicholas was announced the birth of yet another daughter, instead of a male heir, he had to take a long walk to compose himself before visiting mother and new-born.
I talked extensively about Peterhof Palace in the guide of Imperial Palaces you need to visit in Saint Petersburg, since there is more to it than just being the birth place of many a royal member. It is quite the magnificent palace and park to visit, and you will not regret check it out!
Alexander Palace and Park
The Romanovs lived in Alexander Palace in Tsarskoye Selo (now Pushkin), instead of Catherine Palace. Tsarina Alexandra thought Catherine Palace was a bit too much, even to her luxury tastes, so the entire family lived and grew up in Alexander Palace instead. The siblings were known for often playing in the park surrounding the Palace, especially when it was snowing, and for going on long walks with their father. The Romanovs lived in the palace until they were placed on house arrest, then sent into exil in Siberia by the Bolsheviks.
Renovation works have been undergoing at Alexander Palace for a while now, which makes it impossible to visit it. It is said to be reopening at the end of 2018, but don’t take my word for it! The good news is that Alexander Park is free for visits, and quite amazing too. It goes all the way to the entrance of Catherine Palace, and is filled with bridges, sculptures, and pavilions.
And if you feel a bit cheeky, you can even peek at Alexander Palace through the holes in the wall fence protecting it from curious eyes. Some of them are just big enough for the lens of a phone camera too, which makes for as good a picture as it gets!
Peter and Paul Fortress
If the Romanovs were murdered by a Bolshevik squad in 1918, it took until 1991 for their bodies to be excavated from their burial site outside Yekaterinburg. The rumours of Anastasia’s survival had been going strong through the years, but the two missing bodies in the grave (Alexei, and either Anastasia or Maria) just added fuel to the fire. It took until 2007 to find them in the woods!
The Romanovs are now canonised and buried in the St Catherine Chapel inside the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral. The Cathedral and Fortress is one of the oldest landmarks in all of Saint Petersburg, and the burial site of almost all the Russian emperors and empresses. Notable names include Catherine the Great and Peter the Great, as well as Maria Feodorovna (Anastasia’s now-famous grandmother).
Peter and Paul Fortress is a goldmine when it comes to Russian history. A single ticket opens doors to many a building and exposition inside its walls, and its riverbank offers you the best view of the Neva and Winter Palace! The Cathedral itself is breathtaking from the moment you set foot inside, with the kind of architecture that is sure to leave a long-lasting impression on you!