They say, if you spend only a minute looking at every item on display at the Hermitage museum in St Petersburg you’ll need almost 6 years to see them all. No wonder, since the museum #1 of Saint-Petersburg contains about 3 million objects of art. The complex of the Hermitage museum includes 5 interconnected buildings, the main of which is the Winter Palace. Besides paintings, sculpture and objects of applied art the Hermitage has two treasuries, so called Gold Room and Diamond room (you need to buy extra special tickets to visit them). The Gold Room contains a collection of antic gold from Ancient Greece and Scythian barrows as well as jewelry and parade armour items from Eastern countries –India,Iran,China, etc. The Diamond Room is home to a collection of Faberge items, jewelry and precious items of Romanov family, diplomatic presents to Russian court, etc.The State Hermitage museum is the most visited museum of St Petersburg ( 2,4 million people a year), and the number of visitors skyrockets during summer months, so it’s advisable to buy a ticket online in advance in order to save time. You can spend your whole life at the Hermitage, but for the first time visit 3 hours should be enough – you will be overwhelmed and emotionally-dull otherwise.
A little bit of history. The Winter palace was designed by Bartolomeo Rastrelli and the works lasted from 1754 to 1762. The construction of the Winter palace was ordered by the daughter of Peter the Great, empress Elizabeth, but she died before the works were completed and the first ruler of Russia who lived there was Catherine the Great. The Hermitage collection was founded in 1764 when Russian Empress Catherine II bought 225 paintings in Berlin. The empress wanted to demonstrate that Russia was as wealthy and powerful as other European countries and, as we can judge by the faces of those who visit the museum for the first time even now, she succeeded 🙂 Originally the collection was housed in the building of the Small Hermitage, but it grew quickly and soon several other buildings were built. The Hermitage museum (then the New Hermitage building) was partially open to the public in in 19th century. After revolution of 1917 the Winter palace – former residence of Russian tzars – also became part of the museum complex. Today the Hermitage collections occupy 183820 square meters.
The collections are placed on 3 floors. The first floor of the Winter Palace is devoted to ancient history and art – there you can find collections of artefacts from Ancient Egypt and Greece, Central Asia, etc.
Devote as much time as you can to the second floor of the museum – besides the most famous collections of Italian, Flamish, Spanish, French, German, English art you can see stunning state rooms here. The pride of the Hermitage museum are paintings by Raphael, , Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio, Titian, El Greco, Murillo and Rubens just to name some.
For years the famous impressionist and post-impressionist collection of the Hermitage has been placed on the third floor. IT’S NOT THE CASE ANYMORE!! Since 2015 IT IS EXHIBITED IN THE GENERAL STAFF building, so in order to visit it you need to cross the Palace square. Thecollection is huge, so plan at least 1,5 hours for your visit to the General Staff building.
There are also several complexes that are branches of the State Hermitage, but they are situated in different parts of the city and you need separate tickets to visit them, they are: The Staraya Derevnya Restoration and Storage Centre, Winter Palace of Peter the Great, MenshikovPalace, The Museum of the Imperial Porcelain Factory and General Staff building.