The Big Caprice and the Podkaprizovaya Road in Alexander Park.


The Grand Duchesses in Tsarskoe Selo circa 1915

In a 1915 letter from Grand Duchess Maria to her father, she described a very strange episode of the grand duchesses breaking glass panels with their parasols on the Caprice overpass in Alexander Park.


“15 September… We walked to the Caprice and walked up the stairs. You know [a diagram drawing]. And then, when we got up there, Olga took her parasol and attacked one of the windows viciously, and broke 3 glass panels, then gave me the parasol, and I broke a window too and Anastasia [did] too. “” 

For a long time, I was very confused by these lines, and could not figure out what happened, or why the girls would engage in an act that was nothing short of vandalism. So when I got back to Tsarskoe Selo last December, I decided to take a careful look at that area to see if I could find any clues.

Grand Duchess Olga, Grand Duchess Maria and Grand Duchess Anastasia in 1915.

The “Caprice” Maria was referring to is one of the overpasses that run across Podkaprizovaya (literally “Under the Caprice”) Road in the park. The overpasses connect Alexander Park to the Catherine Park and Catherine (Grand) Palace. Both Caprices do indeed  have stairs one can walk up on. My instinctual feeling is that Maria was talking about the Big Caprice, which has a Chinese style gazebo at the top. I did not see any glass panels or windows in the gazebo, but concluded that perhaps it may once have had some sort of window panels, which the girls broke that day. However, I still could not figure out why they would do it in this sudden act of aggression so uncharacteristic to them.

The Big Caprice and the Podkaprizovaya Road in Alexander Park.
The Small Caprice and the Podkaprizovaya Road in Alexander Park.
The Big Caprice, built in the 18th century by Empress Catherine the Great, as it originally looked.
Another picture of the Big Caprice, as it appeared prior to the Russian revolution.


You can read the full letter by Maria Romanov from which the except was taken, in the book below:

MARIA and ANASTASIA: The Youngest Romanov Grand Duchesses In Their Own Words: Letters, Diaries, Postcards.


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