Top 5 mysterious places in St. Petersburg

A virtual tour examining the scenes of the five most legendary crimes in the history of St. Petersburg, from Mikhailovsky Castle to the Angleterre Hotel.

1. One of the most ominous palaces in the centre of St. Petersburg has to be Mikhailovsky Castle, also known as Inzhenerny Castle.

Paul I built it for himself as an impenetrable sanctuary, but it was doomed to become the place of his death.

Paul only managed to live forty days in Mikhailovsky Castle. Several times before he died he saw himself reflected in a mirror in the form of a strangled person with a collapsed neck, and he would experience an unaccountable shortness of breath.

2. The grand, elegant structure of the Church of the Saviour on Spilt Blood - built in traditional Russian style in emulation of Vasily Blazhenny Cathedral on Red Square - stands in sharp contrast to the sad event it was built to commemorate.

On 1 March 1881 Alexander II was on his way back to the Winter Palace. The first explosion did nothing more than damage his carriage.

When the tsar got out to reprimand Nikolai Rusakov who had thrown the bomb, a second terrorist, Ignaty Grinevetsky, hurled another bomb at the tsar's feet.

The exact place where the tsar was mortally wounded - part of the railings and the cobble-stone pavement - has been preserved inside the cathedral, under the western cupola.

There were no obvious motives forthe tsar's assassination. Alexander II was neither a tyrant, like his father and his grandfather, nor a weak ruler, like his son and grandson.

3. On 17 (29) December 1916 at the Yusupov residence on the Moika river the odious Grigory Rasputin was assassined.

It actually started inside the historic palace in the lavish rooms of Felix Yusupov. The circumstances surrounding his death are well-known: Rasputin was invited to the Yusupovs' house on the pretext of meeting Felix's wife. Here he was fed almond cakes laced with potassium cyanide.

The conspirators acted to save the country and protect the tsar and his family from the influence of this mysterious peasant-monk. Pictured is the probable tomb of Grigory Rasputin.

4. On 30 August 1918 in the vestibule of the Commissariat of Internal Affairs, which had its premises in the building of the General Headquarters on Palace Square, chairman of the Petersburg Emergency Committee, Moisei Uritsky was shot by the young poet Leonid Kannegisser.

The murder was unlikely to have been planned - it all happened on the spur of the moment, motivated by a strange whim that is yet to be fully explained.

The consequences of the attack were frightening - the Bolsheviks announced the start of the Red Terror.

5. In 1925 Russia's premier poet, Sergei Esenin, was preparing for the release of a full collection of his works.

At the end of November the typeset for all three volumes of his works was in place. But then, on 28 December 1925, Esenin was found dead in a room at the Angleterre Hotel.

His final poem, "Goodbye, my friend, goodbye..." was written in blood - Esenin had actually complained that there was no ink in the hotel and he was forced to write in blood.

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