This archeological treat in St. Petersburg must be one of the world’s most spectacular museums. If you were to visit just one museum in your whole life, this should be it. The exciting city of St. Petersburg is indeed packed with much to see and do. There is never a dull moment, and the question is never ‘what to do’, but ‘how to prioritize when there is so much to choose from’? One thing is for sure though – at the top of your list, you should definitely include the State Hermitage Museum. Don’t fancy spending time in art museums? Then know this: this is not like any other museum you’ve ever seen before. It is impossible not to be utterly astonished by the overwhelming buildings, as well as the collection of more than three million pieces of art.
Founded by Catherine the Great
The Hermitage is one of the largest and oldest museums in the world. Incredibly, it was founded as early as 1764, by Catherine the Great, the most renowned and longest-ruling female leader of Russia. She led Russia into what is known as the Golden Age. As she was a passionate art lover it might not come as a surprise that the museum origins came from her personal collection and has expanded over the years. Due to its sheer size, the art collection is not stored together in one building. Instead they occupy a large complex of six historic buildings along Palace Embankment. This also includes the famous Winter Palace, a former residence of Russian emperors where you can indulge in paintings, artefacts, sculptures and archaeological finds.
The Winter Palace of Peter I
While visiting, do not miss out on the exhibition “The Winter Palace of Peter the first”. This architectural monument was uncovered and opened in 1992. The belief was originally that his main residence was smashed to the ground when they built the Hermitage Theatre. After examining documents of the period they found that the architect actually retained not only the walls and the first floors, but also several rooms. These small chambers were several private rooms used by Peter himself, but also private rooms belonging to Empress Catherine. This is quite incredible and you can imagine what a find this was. One of the best thing with seeing old and amazing constructions is that you can imagine for yourself how it must have been to live there. What were they thinking, these great rulers from the past? Did they actually stand at the exact same spot as you? This is literally stepping into history.
Throughout human history we have created, wanted to make things, and had a desire to express ourselves without words. You just have to look at the Hermitage’s Collection highlights and the prehistoric collection to reveal this. They contain more than two million ancient and early medieval items. These include 20,000 years old stone and bone figurines of women and birds, stone carvings, pieces of painted pottery and much more. It is really fascinating to imagine the people of ancient times making these, and to still see the results today. Little did they know, that their work would be preserved, and that you would one be here to see it. Newer, but still historic, are the artworks exhibited by Rembrandt, Da Vinci, Monet and Michelangelo. The extensive collection of Italian paintings holds 30 rooms in the Old and New Hermitage buildings, showing the development of the arts from the 13th to the 19th century.
Where to Stay
While planning and waiting for your visit to St. Petersburg and this great museum, why not take advantage of the centrally located Radisson Royal Hotel, St. Petersburg? The hotel leaves you just steps from the city sights and attractions, and of course the museum experience of a lifetime. Be sure to dine in the on-site restaurant Barbazan that offers international and local Russian cuisine using fresh and healthy ingredients.