The Hermitage is the former winter palace of the Tsar in St. Petersburg. It is one of the largest and most important art museums in the world. The Hermitage is in the city center of Saint Petersburg, which belongs to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage.
The collection comprises nearly 3 million objects, of which only about 65,000 are on display. Every year, approximately 2.5 million people visit the Hermitage Museum
The spectrum of exhibits ranges from archaeological collections to Russian art and Central and Western European art, with the emphasis on painting.
On our arrival at the Palace Square, a huge queue has already formed. We observed the same in the Catherine Palace. Later we learned that there are several entrances and thus also several queues.
At first, we take a look around at Palace Square. In doing so, we learn that the Alexander Column is free-standing, and thus not fastened in any way. At first the citizens of St. Petersburg were afraid to pass by.
The archway of the General Staff building is impressive. Parts of this building now house parts of the modern Hermitage painting, such as the 31 paintings of the Spanish painter Pablo Picasso.
Another part of the Russian collection was transferred to the Russian Museum at the Mikhailovsky Palace.
Visiting the Hermitage
Thanks to our guide we were able to avoid the queues and enter the Winter Palace at the archaeological collections. Here we reach the Jordan staircase, a baroque representative staircase.
On the first floor, we enjoy the view of the Neva River and the Hare Island. In the background, we recognize the first modern skyscraper, just being build by the oil company Rosneft.
In the Field Marshals’ Hall, we admire see artfully designed chandeliers and vases.
Then follows the Peter the Great Memorial Hall also known as the small throne room. The throne is in a shell-shaped wall niche.
An exhibition of ancient robes is currently on display in the splendid Armorial Hall. It detracts the attention from the fantastic chandeliers.
The War Gallery of 1812 houses 332 portraits of generals.
A further ceremonial room, the St George’s Hall or Great Throne Room follows. Here, is also an exhibition of robes. The throne was placed under a large canopy.
In the Pavilion Hall, you see mosaic paintings and mosaic floor. In this discipline, the Russian artists have developed special skills.
Partially, the images are so small that the mosaics are barely recognizable with the naked eye. A special showpiece in this room is the Peacock Clock. An elaborately designed clockwork in the form of a peacock, an owl, and a rooster display the time.
Via staircases with oversized vases, we reach the sections with Central and Western European art. Leonardo da Vinci’s Madonna Benois and Madonna Litta attract the visitors.
Danae, a painting of Titian, and paintings of El Greco, Goya, Velazquez, Caravaggio, Tintoretto complete the exhibition.
After the passage to the new Hermitage, our tour guide explains us in the Raffael Loggia that a number of cats live here, as employees of the Hermitage. They preserve the works of art before the mice.
The Madonna Conestabile and the Raphael Family can be seen here. The Crouching Boy, a sculpture made by Michelangelo has as well found its place here.
Halls with paintings of the Dutch and Flemish painters, such as Rubens, Breughel of the old, Snyder and Van Dyck follow. For the paintings of Rembrandt one reserved a separate hall. Van Gogh, Rogier van der Weyden and Adriaen van Ostade cannot be missing, as well as the French painters Monet and Cezanne. Much more is on display and to admire.
In one of the last exhibition rooms, we notice an 18 tons heavy bowl made of green jasper. It originates from the Ural and was manufactured in the middle of the 19th century by the gemstone manufacturer in Kolywan, northwest of Altai.
Through the Egyptian collection, we leave the Hermitage again. All the impressions are far more than one can process in the short time.
Please read also > City tour St Petersburg
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