The former residence of Russian tsars, and now the museum complex Hermitage is the most famous historical and cultural landmark of our country. Visiting the museum will be interesting for any person: a variety of expositions gives everyone possibility to find something interesting.
In the middle of the XVIII century, a beautiful Winter Palace was built on the left bank of the Neva. The location of the building was chosen not accidentally, it is located opposite the Peter and Paul Fortress, where the first stone of the future St. Petersburg was laid. This building became the residence of the royal family.
In 1764, Catherine the Great was returned an old-standing debt, concerning to the time of Yuri Dolgoruky. The debt was paid with not money, not gold, but priceless paintings of Dutch and Flemish artists. Pictures were hung in the halls of the Winter Palace, and the Empress was carried away by collecting masterpieces of painting. The collection was growing, there wasn’t enough space in one building. Two more buildings were added to the Winter Palace: the Small Hermitage and the Great Hermitage.
Catherine’s collection was continued by Alexander I, and later by Nicholas I. In 1852 he decided that the world’s masterpieces should be available for everyone who wants to see it, and open the exposition to the public. Till this time, only the elected guests of the imperial family could see the paintings. It was forbidden to visit the exhibition even for Pushkin.
After 1917 it was unstable time for the museum. One day it was replenished with new exhibits and collections, another day it lost some of the priceless treasures for economic and political reasons. During the Great Patriotic War, about 2 million exhibits were evacuated from the Hermitage. After the victory, the exposition was safely returned to its place.
It is better to begin acquaintance with the Hermitage by examining the facades of the buildings. Even without taking into account the treasures stored there, the architecture of the complex makes it possible to attribute it to objects of cultural heritage. Go to the Palace Square, from there you can see five buildings which are the parts of the museum ensemble:
- The Winter Palace of architect Rastrelli, built in Baroque style. Here are the ceremonial halls and living quarters of the imperial family.
- The Grand Hermitage of architect Felten, built in Baroque style.
- The small Hermitage with the Hanging Garden and two pavilions. It was built in the classicism style, to link the Winter Palace with other buildings.
- The new Hermitage was erected by the architect Klenze in the Neo-Greek style. The building was built at the order of Nicholas I for a public exposition.
- The Hermitage Theater of the architect Quarenghi in the style of classicism, built on the foundation of the first residence of Peter the Great.
These buildings are just a part of the Hermitage. There are another parts of the museum ensemble all around the city. If you have time, be sure to visit:
- The “Staraya Derevnya” depository, which will familiarize tourists with the works of the restoration workshops and with items that are not exhibited in the museum.
- East wing of the General Staff building. There is an exposition of painting of the XIX-XX centuries.
- Menshikov Palace with the exhibitions of the cultural heritage of the XVIII century
- 4.Porcelain factory’s museum. There you get acquainted with the history of porcelain production in Russia and see the services, figurines and other products made by the orders of the imperial family.
It is impossible to inspect all the buildings and the expositions in one day. If you want to visit all the buildings and exhibits interesting to you with no hurry, plan your tour for at least 4-5 days. Be assure you will take a lot of pictures so do not forget to insert a large memory card into your camera.
If you meet cats in the Hermitage or near the building, you need to treat them carefully. It’s not just domestic animals, but official museum staff. They protect exhibits from rodents. Each of them has a passport and a veterinary certificate. This tradition was initiated by Catherine the Great, and since then, conscientious hunters save unique masterpieces for us.
What is inside the Hermitage
The facades are inspected, it’s time to go to the museum. The biggest mistake of many first time visitors is the desire to see all the exhibits in one visit. Well, you need to go 24 km to do this and you need some time for seeing and reading explanatory inscriptions. Of course, you can quickly run through all the halls, but you will not get the pleasure of such an “excursion”. It is better to understand in advance where and what exposures are located, and follow the planned route.
Only at first glance, it seems like the exhibits are located chaotically. But they are organized in a simple and understandable system. Interesting treasures are located on every floor, but every level is dedicated to a specific topic:
- The first floor is dedicated to ancient culture. There you can get to know the life, art and religion of Greece, Egypt, Asia, Siberia, India and to see archaeological finds.
- The second floor opens with a suite of ceremonial rooms, showing the guests the emperor’s strength and power of Russia. Here you can see the interiors of the living rooms of the royal family. Lovers of applied art, magnificent furnishings of rooms, statues, will linger in this part of the palace for a long time.
- The third floor will please lovers of painting. Here is a magnificent collection of masterpieces of the most famous artists. The paintings adorn the walls of the palace halls.
Let’s move on to stand-alone rooms and exhibits. The Hermitage business card is the “Peacock” clock, which is located in the pavilion hall. The mechanism was assembled 2.5 centuries ago, but it still works. Not only pointers are moved, but also figurines of birds, while the sounds of bells chime off. At 19 o’clock the inspector starts the mechanism, the clock starts ringing, the peacock spreads its tail.
Be sure to see another unique treasures of the museum such as:
- Knight’s Hall with statues of knights and battle horses. Children will really like the collection of uniforms, weapons and other items dedicated to the heroic warriors.
- Library of Nicholas II. The interior is made in the Gothic style, the center of the exposition is a fireplace with some royal emblems. The hall is filled with carved furniture of dark wood, which perfectly harmonizes with the leather of book bindings, decorated with embossing.
- Picture “Danae”. Even for indifferent to painting people the history of this masterpiece will be interesting. In 1985, a mentally ill visitor splashed ink on the canvas and almost completely destroyed Rembrandt’s work. After 20 years of restoration, the picture returned to the gallery, but now it is protected by glass.
Tips for visitors
People who visit the Hermitage for the first time often face many domestic and organizational problems. If you follow simple rules, the tour will pass without annoying misunderstandings.
Remember the schedule of the museum to not waste your time:
- Monday – closed;
- Wednesday and Friday – from 10:30 to 21 hours;
- The first Thursday of the month – from 10-30 to 17 hours, free entrance;
- Other days – from 10-30 to 18 hours.
Do not be afraid of the complaints appearing on the websites concerning to the hours-long lines in the museum. If you plan the visit correctly, you can significantly reduce the tedious standing in the pouring rain or scorching sun. The biggest influx of visitors is during school holidays and long weekends. If you come in autumn or spring, you cannot see the line at all. The first Thursday of each month and December 7 are the days of free visit. There are many people wishing to visit the museum these days, it will take several hours to wait. Decide for yourself what is better to save: time or money.
Often, congestion arises from the lack of places in the wardrobe. It is better to choose the day when the weather allows you to walk to the Hermitage without outer clothing. Think about whether you want to spend the whole day in the Hermitage or to inspect certain exposures in 2-3 hours. In the first case, come in the morning on days when the museum is open until 21 hours. In the second it is better to come about the afternoon, when the bulk of visitors leave the building.
Tickets to the Hermitage Museum
The cost of tickets depends on what objects you want to visit. Do not forget to bring your passport with you, the rates for citizens of the Russian Federation and Belarus are lower than for foreigners. Ticket price:
- All objects – 700 rubles;
- To the Hermitage – 400 rubles;
- For other objects of the museum complex – 300 rubles;
- Gold or Diamond pantry – 300 rubles extra;
A ticket for visiting all objects is valid for 1 day. It’s impossible to inspect the whole complex for such a time, it’s better to buy a ticket to the Hermitage for 400 rubles. Usually, there is a large queue to the Hermitage ticket office. So it’s better to go to the General Staff Building or buy tickets online.
How to navigate the museum
At the entrance, there is a cloakroom where you can check your clothes and other things. Do not rush to inspect the exhibits after undressing. A first time visitor will get lost in the labyrinths of the palace in the first half hour. At the entrance, take the map, review it, mark the places where you need to visit and schedule the route.
Audio-guide will help you to orient in the halls. You can find it around the dressing rooms. It costs 350 rubles. If all of these methods are used, and you still cannot find the desired object, contact the museum staff. They are almost in every room and they are always ready to help.
You can take some pictures of the exhibits, but the flash is prohibited. Not every hall has enough lighting to get good shots. For a fee, visitors are allowed to take high-quality pictures.
Visitor is a normal human being who wants to eat, drink, rest and go to the toilet several times in a day. The organization of the museum resolves all these problems. If your legs are tired, sit down on the bench, which is in all corridors and halls. It is forbidden to take food, so if you are hungry, go down to the snack-bar on the first floor. Toilets can be found easily. They are located near the stairs on each floor. If you do not see it do not be shy to ask employees. They are always ready to help and to show the way.
The Hermitage is accessible for wheelchair users. Ramps and other devices are arranged for them. If any problems arise, please contact the nearest museum staff for assistance.
Hermitage visitors often want to buy some souvenirs in the store. After a visit, go along the first floor, there you will find many interesting things, but the prices will be unpleasantly surprising. If you want to save money you can buy books, posters and other remembrances at street kiosks, but the quality of products may disappoint you.
How long the visit takes?
Time to inspect the Hermitage depends on what you are interested in. Standard guide tour lasts 4 hours. The same tour with no guide will take about 6 hours.
Decide in advance what you want to see in the museum. Lovers of painting can admire almost half an hour one masterpiece while a person who is not interested in it can run through the entire gallery during this time. Carefully consider the floor plans, mark the interesting expositions and go on an exciting excursion, in that case you will have enough time to inspect all the important exhibits in a day. If you have some free time, and you don’t want to leave the museum you can wander around. Even an ordinary trip through the labyrinths of the palace will give you a great pleasure, and the unusual exhibits encountered on the way will make you forget about fatigue.
It is impossible to tell even about the hundredth part of all the wonders of the Hermitage in the review article. Visit the amazing museum by yourself or book an excursion. The impressions of seeing will not be forgotten until the end of life. The most exact opinion was expressed at the exit by a five-year-old girl: “I want to live here to see something beautiful and interesting every day.”
The Hermitage is the most important museum in Russia. More than 200 years it was the royal residence and during the tour of the complex you will see all the luxury of the interiors of that time.
Three-hour tour with a personal guide to the ancient residence of Russian tsars – what could be more majestic and exciting? You will see the throne on which Nikolai the First sat, Rembrant’s Cloths and Egyptian mummies. The Winter Palace impresses with its wealth and luxury, and our guide will pleasantly surprise you with its knowledge in the history of Russia and not only.