St. Petersburg’s Hermitage is today one of the most famous art museums is the World. In terms of renown, it’s arguably second only to the Louvre in Paris.
The core of the art collections – including over 2,500 paintings, 10,000 drawings and 10,000 carved gems – were assembled by Empress Catherine the Great between 1764 and 1774. Today, the Hermitage is estimated to contain over three millions items, many of them priceless.
However, I have to admit to not being much of an art enthusiast. For me, the big draw of the Hermitage are the buildings that hold the collections, which are architectural and painted works of art in their own right, both outside and in.
The oldest part of the five-building complex is the magnificent Winter Palace, which was home to Russian Emperors and Empresses from 1763 right up to the Revolution in 1917, although rarely lived in after 1881.
The exterior of the Winter Palace has remained largely unchanged since its construction. Sadly, the same cannot be said for its interior. Fashion and fire resulted in many of its rooms being redesigned and renovated over the years. And although they still look wonderful today, part of me wishes I could have seen them as they originally appeared during Catherine the Great’s time.
Catherine herself built the Small Hermitage, and later the Large Hermitage, to hold her expanding art collection, not to mention the opulent Theatre. These were followed by the New Hermitage under the reign of Catherine’s grandson, Nicolas I, who first opened the doors of the Large and New Hermitages to the public in 1852.
Together, the buildings of the Hermitage present a majestic façade along the banks of the River Neva. And whether you’re a fan of architecture or artworks, the Hermitage is sure to put something you’ll enjoy into the frame.
Like the Church on Spilled Blood, which I featured in my blog post on Friday, the Hermitage is one of countless treasures that combine to form the Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments UNESCO World Heritage Site.
If you’re the sort of person that loves experiencing a bit of history on your travels, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?
And if that’s not enough for you, the first three Jaspa’s Journey novels will soon be available to enjoy, both as ebooks and in paperback! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!