The Hermitage State Museum
The Hermitage State Museum alone is enough reason to justify a trip to Saint Petersburg. Although far apart from the central European artistic centers this museum has an impressive art collection and is surely an unforgettable attraction.
The Hermitage is one of the largest and oldest museums in the world. Its collection contains over three million items and only a small part is on permanent display. The museum began as the personal collection of Catherine the Great and thanks to her love for art it grew larger and larger. During her life, she acquired 4,000 paintings, 38,000 books, 10,000 engraved gems, 10,000 drawings, 16,000 coins and medals and an impressive natural history collection. Today it has the world’s largest collection of paintings. There are artworks dating from the Stone Age to the early 20th century including Egyptian antiquities, Greek artifacts, Italian Renaissance, Dutch Golden Age, Neoclassical, Impressionist, and Post-Impressionist art.
The Hermitage Museum complex occupies six historic buildings of which five are open to the public: the Winter Palace, Small Hermitage, Old Hermitage, New Hermitage and Hermitage Theatre. The Winter Palace alone is said to contain 1,500 rooms and the principal façade is 500 ft (150 m) long. It was the main residence of the czars. Almost all the Romanovs starting from Catherine the Great resided there. The palace is one of the most splendid buildings I have ever seen. Its impressive architecture reflects the might and power of Imperial Russia from that time.
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