POINTS OF INTEREST
On the cold night of December 17, 1916, this elegant yellow palace on the banks of the Moika River became the setting for one of history's most melodramatic murders. Prince Yusupov and others loyal to the tsar spent several frustrating and frightening hours trying to kill Grigory Rasputin (1872–1916), who had strongly influenced the tsarina, who in turn influenced the tsar, during the tumultuous years leading up to the Bolshevik Revolution. An extended tour given once daily at 1:45 pm shows off the rooms in which Rasputin was (or began to be) killed, as well as a waxworks exhibit of Rasputin and Prince Yusupov (who was forced to flee the country when Rasputin's murder was uncovered). Another tour (scheduled on the hour) takes you through the former reception rooms of the second floor. Both tours are in Russian only, but an audioguide tour is available in English, French, German, Italian, Finnish, and Spanish or you may phone ahead at least ten days in advance to arrange an English-language tour. The palace's underground tunnel where Rasputin was actually poisoned is ostensibly off-limits, but you may be able to view it if you avail yourself of the bathroom facilities on the lower level of the mansion.
On a lighter note, the showpiece of the palace remains the jewel-like rococo theater, whose stage was once graced by Liszt and Chopin; concerts are still presented here, and also in the palace's august and elegant White-Columns Room (concert tickets usually have to be purchased just before performance time).