The Hermitage

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Wasatch on July 7, 2006

Simply put, the Hermitage is one of world’s great art museums-- 350 rooms, 2,700,000 works of art– but it
is more than that. It consists of 1, 2, 3, or 4 buildings, depending on how you want to count. The Winter
Palace, now part of the Hermitage, displays art in the grand rooms of the Tsar’s official home. The decor
overwhelms the art. The Large Hermitage was built by the Tsars as an art museum. The Hermitage
Theater is only used for performances. Our guided tour took through the most of the major palace rooms
and works of art– Da Vinci, Renoir, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Rubens- but if you want to see all the
grand palace rooms, abandon the tour.

The entrance to the Hermitage is on the embankment, in the Winter Palace. Facing ahead upon entering,
restrooms are in the far left corner. The entrance lobby also has a coat check, ticket booth, and café. After
passing through the turnstile, the museum proper is entered on the second floor at the top of the Jordan
Staircase, one of the few parts of the Palace untouched by later remodeling. The Jordan Staircase is one of
the architectural highlights of the Palace. Don’t rush.

At the top of the spectacular baroque Jordan Staircase, the only remaining originally decorated room in the
Hermitage, are the State Rooms, which make Louis XIV’s Versailles look plain.

Rm 227 is a copy of The Vatican Palace’s remarkable Raphael Loggia. Since the Vatican Palace is not
open to tourists, give this a look.

The State Rooms and the Tsar’s quarters of the Palace contain many works of art, as well as stunning
architecture, and, unfortunately, crowds of tourists. Our tour guide commented on how lucky we were to
have come so early in the season as the crowds were the smallest she had ever seen. For us, it was the most
crowded museum we had ever seen.

Guided tours hit most of the grand rooms and the most famous works of art- Renoir, Monet, Rembrandt, di
Vinci, Michelangelo, Rubens. If you go on your own, you must have a floor plan because the museum
occupies five buildings and displays nearly 3,000,000 works (one minute per item, 7 days a week, 8 hours
a day, and you finish in 15 years). The Blue Guide has an excellent one and 20 pages of small print
describing what’s where.

If you are on a bus tour that takes the standard two hour trip through the Hermitage and you want to stay
longer, as your tour director is you can stay behind and be picked up by the bus on the way back after it
finishes the rest of its itinerary. Our tour director (MS Tolstoy) did this for a number of people.

The Hermitage has an excellent English language web site.
Winter Palace/State Hermitage Museum
Palace Embankment, On The Neva River
St. Petersburg, Russia

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