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The Beautiful Hermitage Museum in St.Petersburg Russia

Updated on September 20, 2010
The Hermitage Museum
The Hermitage Museum
Peter the Great  1672-1725
Peter the Great 1672-1725

The Hermitage is one of the most famous museums of the world, second to only the Louvre in Paris and I was very lucky to visit it during my stay in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2001. The museum, with its three million items and over a thousand rooms, is the largest gallery in Russia and is one of the most respected museums.

The Hermitage Museum is located in the center of St Petersburg on the Palace Embankment facing the St. Peter and Paul Fortress across the Neva River, and is comprised of four buildings that are arranged side by side and include the Winter Palace. The museum complex also includes an 18th century theater and it often is used for semi private performances. The Winter Palace was built by Peter the Great for his daughter Princess Elizabeth, but his daughter died before the palace could be completed and nothing really left from that original building. The sublime baroque Winter Palace as we see it today was built much later, under Catherine the Great. From that time on the Winter Palace was the residence of the Russian Tsars as well as the 1917 Provisional Government. It is through its magnificent gateway you enter the Hermitage Museum.

Catherine The Great   1729-1796
Catherine The Great 1729-1796

As you walk in, you check your coat at the door, you will pass the ticket counter, and the snow-white hallway will lead you to a magnificent staircase that will bring you to the second floor. Every foot of that staircase (called Jordan) is a piece of art, with sculptures, mirror windows, and the whole ceiling is painted like the Sistine chapel. At this point you can walk any direction and you won’t have even several days enough to see everything. I was really struck by the magnitude of its spacious halls and it’s no wonder for those halls were used for imperial receptions and czar’s entertainment. I spent there about three hours in the Hermitage and left it feeling as if I saw everything and nothing at the same time: it was hard to focus on so many things!

The Hermitage started as a collection of fine art by Catherine the Great, she purchased collections in bulk, sometimes artists were not even identified until much later. The initial foundation for the museum were Dutch and Flemish painters. To this day the art of Low Countries comprises a very solid selection in the Hermitage, including the works of Rembrandt, Rubens, van Dyke, and Brueghel. Both Rembrandt and Rubens have entire halls dedicated to their art. In 1985 Rembrandt’s ‘Danaë’ was almost ruined when a disturbed person threw acid on it, and it took years for the restoration to be complete.

As time went by, collections of art expanded as Russian czars acquired more and more treasures from all over the world; hence the museum contains vast diverse collections of Russian art, Oriental art, Greek and Roman sculpture, Egyptian art. The highlight of the Greek hall is the huge seated figure of Zeus flanked by rows of figures of handsome strong young men. In the Egyptian hall I was really impressed by the mummy that they had on display among giant ominous-looking stone sarcophagi. The mummy lays in a glass case and people are not allowed to take pictures so as not to expose the mummy to too much light. And yet people still sneak in to take pictures anyway. There is an old woman nearby who will reprimand you if you come too close to anything to touch or to take a picture. These women are in every room in the museum. Keep in mind, that taking pictures is generally allowed, unless there’s a no-photo sign; for professional photography you must obtain permission. The Hermitage also has a very vast Renaissance collection, including Raphael, Leonardo Da Vinci, El Greco, Titian, Velazquez. There is also a collection of Faberge eggs that were a collection of Czar Nicholas II, I was very impressed by these charming eggs that Nicholas used to have made especially as a gift for his wife. The Hermitage has a very nice collection of French impressionists and postimpressionists including Monet, Pissarro, Degas, Renoir, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Gauguin, Matisse and Picasso. Those paintings were originally collected by Moscow merchants of the early twentieth century. 

Sculpture of Zues
Sculpture of Zues
The Prodigal Son     (Rembrandt)
The Prodigal Son (Rembrandt)
Coronation of Marie De Medicis  (Ruebens)
Coronation of Marie De Medicis (Ruebens)
Portrait of a Family       (Van Dyke)
Portrait of a Family (Van Dyke)
Hunters In The Snow     (Bruegel)
Hunters In The Snow (Bruegel)
The Pavilion Hall
The Pavilion Hall
The Golden Peacock
The Golden Peacock

I also liked the Chivalry room which displayed knights’ amour and weapons from the medieval epoch. One of the most fascinating halls is the Pavilion Hall built in eclectic Moorish style. The hall is on the second floor and it leads to a hanging garden which sadly is not taken care of properly. So that Pavilion Hall has a golden glass-covered cage that has a golden peacock that sings a song and spreads its feathers everyday at 5 o’clock, it’s a mechanical wonder that was built in the 18th century. The Hermitage also has two rooms with royal thrones, one is very small and intimate and the other is quite the opposite, in a giant bright hall.
There is a souvenir shop and also a café that you can go to during your visit. And there are various vendors that sell postcards.

I realized what a luxury people of St. Petersburg have to be able to enjoy this museum, for they come any day of the week to relax and get to observe the greatest art of the world. The halls absorb any noise so it is very quiet in every room, even if you have many tourists. The scent coming from the oil paintings and old frames gives off a soothing effect. You completely forget about the 21st century behind the windows!

 I also felt proud that my future husband was working at the Hermitage at the time, and it’s interesting to note is that his mother, uncle, grandmother and great grandmother all worked there. His great grandmother in fact was the head of the engravings department. A few days before my husband quit his work in the museum, a famous painting (it was Jean-Leon Gerome’s ‘Pool in a Harem’) was stolen in the middle of the day and created such a hassle that all visitors had to wait for hours to be let out, way past the closing time.

Visiting the Hermitage Museum was one of the most exciting experiences in my life and I will never forget how I felt standing in front of these magnificent paintings and just being awed by it all and relishing every moment that I spent in the museum. I look forward to visiting the Hermitage again with great anticipation.

The Lady in The Garden (My favorite Monet painting).    (Claude Monet)
The Lady in The Garden (My favorite Monet painting). (Claude Monet)
Guitar Lessons      (Renoir)
Guitar Lessons (Renoir)
 Bedroom      (Vincent Van Gogh)
Bedroom (Vincent Van Gogh)
Mette       (Gaugin)
Mette (Gaugin)
The Red Room    (Matisse)
The Red Room (Matisse)
Madonna and Child      (Leonardo Da Vinci)
Madonna and Child (Leonardo Da Vinci)
Annuciation  (El Greco)
Annuciation (El Greco)
Galatia  (Raphael)
Galatia (Raphael)
The Courtyard of the Winter Palace
The Courtyard of the Winter Palace
The Hermitage at night
The Hermitage at night
Hermitage Museum St. Petersburg Russia:
Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Russia, 190000

get directions

Location: 32-38, Dvortsovaia Naberezhnaia (Embankment).
Open: 10:30 am to 5:30 pm, Sunday till 5 pm.
Closed: Mondays. Ticket-office closes 1 hour before closing time.
(812) 710-96-25

(812) 710-90-79


Submit a Comment
  • jackclee lm profile image

    Jack Lee 

    4 years ago from Yorktown NY

    Very nice photos of the artwork. It brings back fond memory of my visit back in 1999. This year is the 250th anniversary of the Hermitage Museum. There is a new documentary film just released called "Hermitage Revealed." Check it out and thanks for this hub.

  • jackclee lm profile image

    Jack Lee 

    4 years ago from Yorktown NY

    Very nice photos of the artwork and museum. Brings back memories when I was there in 1999. Did you know this is the 250th anniversary of the Hermitage Museum? There is a new documentary just released called "Hermitage Revealed". Check it out. Thanks.

  • ladyjane1 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Texas

    Kalmiya I have heard of that movie I will have to check it out. IF you get to see the Hermitage for yourself I'm sure you will love it. Cheers.

  • Kalmiya profile image


    7 years ago from North America

    Thanks for your lovely hub on the Hermitage and how lucky you were to visit it! I've watched a movie called 'The Russian Ark' which is a very unique film in that it was shot in one single take and is a tour through the Hermitage with an historic personage as a guide with little vignettes along the way. Definitely must see the Hermitage in my lifetime!

  • ladyjane1 profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from Texas

    Thank you Chuck I wish I could take credit for all the pictures but I cannot. My sister is the photographer in our family but I did get some pretty good ones on my own. Thanks for visiting. Cheers.

  • Chuck profile image

    Chuck Nugent 

    8 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

    This is a great description of the Hermitage and your pictures are fantastic. You are a great photographer.

  • ladyjane1 profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from Texas

    Well you must have a lovely house Micky. And you are always welcome. Cheers.

  • Micky Dee profile image

    Micky Dee 

    9 years ago

    My house looks just like that- except without the art of course. I have black velvet paintings, but most everything else looks the same. Thank you Lady J.

  • ladyjane1 profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from Texas

    Kamran100 thanks for reading glad you like my hub. Cheers.

    De Greek thanks for stopping by Im glad you enjoyed the Hermitage, what's not to like right? Cheers.

  • De Greek profile image

    De Greek 

    9 years ago from UK

    A real treasure and I loved it from the first time I saw it :-)

  • Kamran100 profile image


    9 years ago

    good good good !

    really beautiful and amazing

    nice hub

  • ladyjane1 profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from Texas

    Thank you Simone it is a beautiful museum indeed and I hope you do get to visit it because you will never forget it. Thanks for reading cheers to you.

  • Simone Smith profile image

    Simone Haruko Smith 

    9 years ago from San Francisco

    A beautiful museum indeed! I'd love to visit it myself someday. Your photos are magnificent!

  • ladyjane1 profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from Texas

    Thanks for reading sis, yes I cant wait to see it again, it is an amazing place. Maybe one of these days I can get one of my sisters to leave the comfort of the states and fly with me to cheers.

  • Whidbeywriter profile image

    Mary Gaines 

    9 years ago from Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island, Washington

    Wow amazing art and architecture. That is so fascinating that your hubby and some of his family worked at the Hermatige. What a truly amazing experience for you to see such beauty. Awesome job sis - loved the photos. Cheers!

  • ladyjane1 profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from Texas

    Pamela thanks for reading I appreciate your comments. Cheers to you.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Ladyjane, This is a magnificient museum. It would be lovely to travel there and see it. Your pictures are gorgeous.

  • ladyjane1 profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from Texas

    rose56 thanks for the support glad you liked it. Cheers.

    nifty@50 I love your name, thanks for stopping by and glad you enjoyed my hub, cheers.

    geegee77 always glad to see your face on my hubs, thank you very much, cheers love ya!

  • geegee77 profile image


    9 years ago from The Lone Star State!!

    Very nice would love to go there one day great hub:)ge

  • nifty@50 profile image


    9 years ago

    A very beautiful & interesting hub! Keep up the great work!

  • rose56 profile image


    9 years ago

    It looks like a winner. awesome. I would love to see this in person. Good job. Sisters are doing a great job.


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