- Hermitage Museum: A Complete Guide
Either you are an art lover or not, you must have heard of The Hermitage Museum. Located In the beautiful city of Saint Petersburg, Russia, next to the Neva River, is one of the biggest museums in the world. You will spend there an average of 4 hours, even 5, and still, you won´t be able to see it all.
The museum is, in reality, a complex of 5 buildings: Winter Palace, Old Hermitage, New Hermitage, Small Hermitage and the Hermitage Theater.
I don´t want to bore you with historical facts and art collections. If you are still interested in that, scroll down and you will find a brief history of this beautiful place and also a bit of what you can find inside.
-I bought my ticket online and even if it was a bit more expensive, it worth it as I skipped the long line of more than 1h. It cost me around 15€ and the entry for Online tickets is different than the other one, so there was no one to enter the complex by the time I went there.
-If you buy the ticket online, is valid for first use up to 180 days after purchase.
-If you have the time and the money and you are an art lover, I recommend you to visit the museum in 2-3 times. There are many different ticket options and if you choose this one, you can visit each building for 300 rubles (almost 5€) if buying directly in the ticket office.
-The days the museum is opened till 9 pm I recommend you go at around 4 pm so you will skip the mass of Chinese and cruise tourists visiting the museum in the morning. If you are visiting in winter you won´t have to deal with this and any time will be good.
-For being one of the most important museums in the world, is surprising that almost everything is written in Russian and even the people working there can´t speak a word of English. Maybe that will change for the Football World Cup 2018 next year, but right now is what it is. So buy a guide book, hire a guide, pay for an audio-guide or learn the Cyrillic alphabet.
-Photography without flash is allowed inside but the lightening after sunset is very poor so your pictures won´t be the best ones once is dark.
-Like all museums, they have temporary exhibitions that are worth seeing.
What many people don´t know
A lot of people that visit the museum have no idea that the rooms that hold all this art, are also art and an important part of the museum to be seen. Most of the rooms are simply spectacular and some of them don´t even have paintings or objects because are made to be visited same way as when you visit a Palace. These rooms are also known as the State Rooms.
Here you can find the ones that for me were the most beautiful ones.
You will access through the Jordan Staircase. Is magnificent and you will already get an idea of what awaits you inside.
One of the most important ones is the St George Hall, finished with marble and ormolu measures 800 sq. meters. Above the throne is a bas-relief of St George slaying the dragon. The hall has a magnificent parquet floor made from 16 varieties of wood. The grand decor of the hall accords with its function as the setting for official ceremonies and receptions. I cannot describe how spectacular this place is and pictures just don´t make justice.
The Twelve column hall was one of my favourite rooms. The walls bear relief profiles of famous medalists and scenes on subjects from the Ancient World and for me is unique because of its combination of grey granite and the golden hue of the artificial marble.
The Pavillion Hall, one of the finest of the complex is richly decorated with gilt stucco. Twenty-eight large and small crystal chandeliers illuminate this exquisite room.
These will be my favourites but honestly, each room is just a piece of art so take your time to explore this beautiful place.
Let´s first talk a bit of history
It all started when the queen Catherine the Great purchased more than 200 art pieces from an art merchant for the Winter Palace, in the beginning of the XVIII century. The Winter Palace was the residence of the Russian Monarchy between the XVIII-XX centuries and since this first work was acquired, the following Zars (Russian kings) continued completing the collection. It became a State Museum after the Revolution in 1917 when Russia became a Republic. St. Petersburg was then the capital of Russia but after the revolution, the capital was transferred to Moscow. To avoid the centralization of art in St Petersburg, more than 500 paintings and sculptures were transported from The Hermitage Museum to The Pushkin Museum in Moscow. That meant a big loss for the Hermitage museum who could later recover thanks to the nationalization of the assets of the Russian aristocracy. In their residency, the Hermitage found its salvation: paintings, archaeological objects from Egypt, coins, documents, etc.
The museum suffered more ups and downs during the following decades but nowadays is one of the biggest and most important museums in the world holding a collection of more than 20000 art pieces.
What can you find inside?
Answering this will be a never-ending post but let´s just go to the most important stuff.
Well, apart from of course a big collection of Russian art, is not a joke that The Hermitage holds the biggest collection of French Art between the XV-XVIII in the world after The Louvre. The biggest masters are to be found here: Renoir, Matisse and Monet.
The Russian Zars had a special love for the Flemish artists, the reason why you can find many works of some of the best Flemish masters like Rubens, Van Dick and Rembrandt.
A museum like this, of course, it also has an important collection of Italian and Spanish art: Botticelli, Velazquez and Goya.
But Hermitage Museum is not only about paintings.
-The Prehistoric artifacts date from the Paleolithic to the Iron Age and were excavated all over Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union and the Russian Empire
-Hermitage Museum holds more than 100000 of Classical antiquities (art from the Greek and Roman Empires) and Egyptian antiquities.
-More than 900 uniforms, costumes and accessories, mainly Russian.
-Mosaics, weapons, documents, coins; everything you can think of you will find it here.
– Hermitage Museum also holds a good collection of Asian and Medieval Art.
How much? Opening time?
-The adult entrance fee is 700 roubles (about 10€) if bought directly from the ticket office. The 700 roubles include the main Museum Complex, the General Staff Building, Winter Palace of Peter the Great, Menshikov Palace, the Museum of the Imperial Porcelain Factory
-The museum is free on the first Thursday of every month but expects far longer queues.
-Always check the official website but by the time I went there this was the schedule:
MONDAYS CLOSED and also the 1st January and the 9th of May due National Holidays.
Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday 10:30 am – 6:00 pm.
Wednesday and Friday 10,30am – 9:00 pm.
Official website where you can find all the prices, info, virtual tour, etc.
*Please note that prices in euros may change due to the currency exchange rate.
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