The elegant, canary-yellow façade of Yusupov Palace is somewhat understated in comparison to St. Petersburg’s typically ostentatious architecture, but don’t be fooled by its demure frontage. Step inside the palace and you’ll find a series of ballrooms, banquet halls and bedrooms richly decorated with colorful frescos, sumptuous furnishings and gilded chandeliers. The exquisitely preserved interiors date back to the 19th and early 20th centuries and provide a fascinating glimpse into the aristocratic life of the era, with highlights including the Rococo style private theatre, the Moorish Drawing Room and the grand Ballroom.
Built by French architect Vallin de la Mothein the 1760s, Yusupov Palace was inhabited by the noble Yusupov family until they were exiled during the 1917 Revolution and became notorious as the location of the December 1916 murder of Rasputin. Today, the cell where Rasputin met his grisly and untimely end is a popular visitor attraction, with an exhibit chronicling the evening’s events as Felix Yusupov and his followers attempted (and finally succeeded) to poison, shoot and drown the “mad monk.”
The Yusupov Palace is located on the banks of the Moyka River in central St. Petersburg, a short walk from Senate Square (Ploschad Dekabristov). The palace is open daily from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m., and adult admission is R500 for the State Rooms and an additional R300 for the Rasputin exhibit.