Who is the Yusupov Family?
Well, according to the family tree in their house, Prince Felix Felixovich Yusupov’s bloodline can be traced back up to Khan Yusuf, the chief of Nogai Horde in the 15th century. The descendant of Khan Yusuf – through his daughter Sumbeka, Queen of Kazan – converted to the Orthodox Christianity in the 17th century, changing his name from Abdul Mirza to Dmitry and was later granted the title of ‘Prince Yusupov’ by Tsar Feodor I. The Yusupov in Felix’s blood was actually from his mother’s side, Zinaida Nikolaievna Yusupova. She married a Chevalier Guards officer named Felix Felixovich Sumarokov-Elston and the latter assumed the Yusupov name (by the Imperial Decree). The Yusupovs were also known for being extremely wealthy, some would say even wealthier than the Tsars, and it was well-reflected in their estates, like the palace by the Moika River.
In mid-March, the Moyka river was still frozen and the visitors had to the buy the tickets from counter outside, next to the palace, before proceeding to the front entrance. Or you can also buy online on their website, they provide a guided tour but in Russian only. The building didn’t seem extravagant much from the outside (I mean compared to other palaces!), but once inside, I could see that it was really an endless parade of how much fortune this family had!
There were a lot – and I mean a lot! – of rooms. I started from the main staircase going up to the dining room dark wooden panel and furniture on the right and the Tapestry Room on the left. The ticket I purchased allowed me to visit areas called the state rooms (2nd Floor) and the sitting rooms (1st floor). To be honest, it was so big and satisfying in a strange way, I did not mind that I didn’t get to see some other parts (the prince’s living quarters and Rasputin assassination display – these would cost more). In general, this palace is very exquisite and elegant, much less “bling-bling” compared to the Tsars’ palaces (gildings everywhere!).
I thought I was done when I realized there was more to see on the first floor! There was a pink sitting room, a living quarter, a study/library room (still under maintenance or restoration at that time, so it was almost empty) and my favorite, the Moorish Parlour!
After soaking yourself inside the tub filled with hot water, skin-soothing essential oils and rose petals, put your robe on and continue to the Pink Room or the Pool Room to chill and probably play a round or two..
Don’t forget to check the souvenir shops and the small cafè in the lower ground/basement. Nothing special about the coffee or tea, but the choices of cakes and sweets were quite mouthwatering (I forgot to take some pictures!) and some of them were based on the old recipes during Yusupov time.