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«What is our life compared to our Motherland, Russia?» The Great Prince Dmitri Konstantinovich uttered these words in January 1919, being a prisoner of the Peter and Paul fortress and waiting for an inevitable death, and they can serve as an epigraph to the stories of many of the Romanov family told in this book.

The decades of defamation have distorted the moral and intellectual physiognomy of the reigning dynasty of Russia, and the duty of an historian today is to clear away the lies created by the unscrupulous propaganda and to highlight, in an objective way, both strong and weak sides of the persons, which is human.

The Crimea's is a good luck: all the Emperors of Russia and the members of their families have been the devotees of the South Coast, staying there for months to relax and recover their health.

Alexander I bought «Oreanda», the first estate of the Romanov family on the South Coast, in 1825, and Nicholas 11 was the last owner of the Livadia Palace. Being true and enthusiastic patriots of Russia, the members of the Imperial family cherished a special and tender feeling towards the small peninsula distinguished for unique natural beauty of its narrow coastline. This has effected many aspects of the place, and the architectural peculiarities of the South Coast, in particular.

The exquisite tastes of the owners, the talent of outstanding architects of Russia, the skill, knowledge and industry of hundreds of engineers, contractors and workers have made it possible to create there the park and palace ensembles of uncomparable original style and beauty: «Oreanda», «Livadia», «Ai-Todor», «Dulber», «Chahir», «Kharax», «Koreiz», «Kichkine», «Sosnovaia Roshcha».

The famous architect N.P. Krasnov who comes from Yalta and is known as the author of designs and constructor of many palaces owned by the families of the Emperor and the Great Princes owes his most fruitful creative years to the Crimea.

Nicolas II, lost in admiration of his new Livadia Palace, wrote about him: «The architect Krasnov is beyond all praise».

The book will tell the reader not only the histories of the Romanov family's estates on the South Coast of the Crimea. It will also discover the personalities of the owners and some of the unknown or little known Crimean episodes of their lives that were full of politics, charity and the joy of relaxation in that «earthly paradise».

When the Imperial family were staying in the Crimea, the vast country was ruled over from Livadia and its home and foreign policy was made on that small location.

Nevertheless, away from the official pomp and pageantry of the capital, private events and feelings of the families of the Emperor and the Great Princes would come forward.

The unhappy Empress Maria Alexandrovna would find there some kind of relief of the pain given to her by the apparent infidelity of her husband whom she loved dearly and of her enormous humiliation she was well conscious of. Soon after her decease, it was Livadia that Alexander II brought his young morganatic wife the Princess

Catherine Yurievskaia. The Emperor, aged and desperately in love, had spent there several blessed months that preceded his tragic death in St.Petersburg on March 1881.

The new Livadia Palace saw another love story of the Great Princess Olga, the elder daughter of Nicholas II. She set her tender affections upon an officer of the Imperial yacht «Standard», yet the dream of happiness never come true, leaving only bitterness and sorrow instead.

The fate was kinder to Tatiana Konstantinovna, the niece of the Great prince Dmitri Konstantinovich who owned the charming palace «Kichkine». The feeling of the young princess of the blood and the Georgian Prince Konstantin Bagration-Moukhranski overcame the strict laws of marriage of the reigning dynasty, and they were betrothed in the Church of Intercession in Livadia in the spring of 1911. The Princess Tatiana was the only member of the large family of the Great Prince Kostantin Konstantinovich (famous lyrical poet who used the pen-name «K.R.») whose marriage was morganatic.

Of interest are the histories of the estates «Massandra» and «Ai-Danil» bought by the Romanov family from the heiresses of the Count M.S. Vorontsov. By order of Alexander III, they were assigned to the competence of the Department of the Apanages of the Ministry of the Imperial Court and the Apanages and soon became the center of commercial winemaking throughout the South of Russia. The wine cellars of Massandra built in 1898 were called «the eighth wonder of the world».

The history of the palace in Massandra known as «the palace of Alexander III» is also special. The construction lasted from 1892 till 1902, and the Tzar-Piecemaker died before it was over while the family of his son, Nicholas II, preferred Livadia to all their estates on the South Coast.

The final chapter of the book «The Romanov's farewell to Russia» tells about the departure of the near relatives of the last autocrat of Russia from the Crimea in April 1919: his mother, the Empress-Dowager Maria Fiodorovna, the Great Prince Nikolai Nikolaievich-junior, the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Army during the First World War, the Great Prince Alexander Mikhailovich, the Commander of Aviation of the South Front, and the members of their families. They did not know then that they were leaving Russia to never see it again.

Перевод на английский язык Е.Л. Гельгар

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