Spała, Voivodeship of Łódź – hunting for health

Shortly after their wedding in 1895, the imperial couple travelled to Spała in present-day Poland, which was then under Russian rule, for a first stay at the traditional hunting lodge. The Tsarina took little pleasure in these visits, which were primarily for the benefit of the Tsar, who loved to hunt. However, the Tsarina and later the whole family with their five children found the forest surroundings conducive.

In October 1912, the tsar’s entire family went to Spała for their usual holiday together. The tsar hunted and the children roamed the forest or played tennis. Alexei, the tsarevich, fell seriously ill when his haemophilia flared up. According to accounts by contemporary witnesses, the Tsarina did not leave her son's side while he was fighting for his life. Public bulletins were published on the health of the heir to the throne. Staff and local people prayed for the boy's recovery in an improvised church. Rasputin, the wandering monk with whom the imperial couple had been in close contact for years, also sent his prayers. The boy recovered, although it took weeks before he was fit to travel. The ‘miraculous cure‘ was said to have come about through Rasputin’s prayers. As a result, the fatal influence of the dubious monk on the tsar's family increased even further, although Russian society was highly critical of this relationship.

This site has been conceived in conjunction with the HERA-funded research project The European Spa as a Transnational Public Space and Social Metaphor. Conception: Astrid Köhler, Text © Astrid Köhler and Karen Southworth, Design © Jana Riedel.