Hermitage: Winter Palace and Statue of  Victory
Winter Palace and Statue of Victory
Hermitage: Main entrance to Museum
Main entrance to Museum

The Hermitage is perhaps the most famous and popular attraction in St. Petersburg. Over the years, “Piter” has been a very international city, built specifically in Western style: the capital is the port and the window to the West. French court culture and the language the is the culture of the rulers and the elite of the country. Peter and Catherine Great’s goal was to bring the country to the level of an enlightened Europe. Catherine the Great acquired a significant amount of European art in St. Petersburg through expert advice, because Catherine himself did not understand anything about art.

Arch-shaped gate to enter the Palace square
Arch-shaped gate to enter the Palace square

If you are interested in art history, St. Petersburg still offers a lot to see. The winter palace complex represents architectural styles of many ages and is mainly designed by foreign architects

The buildings of the Hermitage and some of their interiors and apartments are worth seeing on their own, on the other hand they contain quality art and interesting objects.

The Hermitage has served as the residence of rulers and later as an art museum. The largest building, which also opens to the Palace Square,  has been a prominent place in Russian political history. You can also reach other parts of the building complex, the ancient Hermitage, which includes an Old, Small, and New Hermitage and the Hermitage Theater. The visitor does not notice the difference between these buildings inside, but moves within them from stunning apartments to art and exhibition showrooms.

In the Palace Square opposite the Winter Palace, the curved Empire-style main building has been transformed into an exhibition space, featuring a remarkable exhibition of French Impressionism and European Modern Art, which everyone should visit. There are many others including Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Van Gogh, Gaguin, Cezanne, Matisse, Rodin and Picasso.


What to see in the Hermitage

Few days is not enough to see Hermitages collections as there are more than three billion items, so pruning must be done and focus on something that feels like personally interesting or maybe  just see the top attractions during a couple of visits.

Hermitage: In foreground The New Hermitage and The Little Hermitage on the left
In foreground The New Hermitage and The Little Hermitage on the left

In the Hermitage, there are extensive collections of European art from the Middle Ages to the 20th century – especially French painting, although the collections of Italian, Flemish and Dutch art are significant. There are more than 20 Rembrandt in the Hermitage, many Ruben’s works, but also the works of Italian artists. The museum’s pearls include individual Leonardo da Vinci works: two Madonna paintings, Madonna Litti and Benoise Madonna, Rafael Madonna and Michelangelo’s statue of Crooked boy. Also El Greco and Goya is found in the museum, and Canaletto’s famous sculpture of the Three Virtues.

The interiors of the museum complex are splendid and the interior decoration decorators have decorated the rooms in the Baroque style empire. Of course, the museum’s  it is important to see the magnificent baroque  staircase at the main entrance.

The famous Malachite Room, decorated with gold, has belonged to Nikolai I’s wife and is also an important attraction. The room has dark red curtains and valuable green malachite poles

Raffaell Loggias, a colorful archway in the new Hermitage, is a replica of the Vatican Palace, the Pope’s Palace – painted on the basis of Rafaello’s sketches. Loggia’s vaults are decorated with Bible stories and walls with colorful patterns.

There is the Kolyvan vase carved from a jaspis boulder on the ground floor, weighing 19.2 tons, and the big golden peacock bell produced by the English goldsmith James Cock. The Knights Hall with arms and armor from the 1400s to the 1600s is also a popular attraction.

general staff
Collection of european impressionism and modern art is in the opposite of Winter Palace. This empire style building is former general staff.

In General Staff you can see paintings of Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, van Gogh, Gaguin, Cezanne, Matisse, Rodin and Picasso.