We’re back in St Petersburg and today we will be a touring the Hermitage, the second largest art museum in the world (the Louvre in Paris, is the largest) ! First, a little about the routine everyday after we left the ship. Security is very tight in Russia. Foreign visitors must have a visa to enter or walk unescorted in the city. Without a visa one is escorted by a Russian citizen and does not depart from the excursion routine. They are with you on the bus, on the tour, no exceptions, no exploring unescorted, period. The security officials take a long time evaluating your documents and passport upon leaving the ship and returning to it. That said, we are off and going into St Petersburg. Our first glimpse of the city was the new apartment buildings going up at the new port where the ship was docked.
On the ride into the city it was a gray mass of apartment buildings, one after another.
When we arrived at the Hermitage, which is composed of several buildings along the Neva River, we saw our first bit of color. We were here in the middle of August and this was the look. Pretty gloomy to me. St Petersburg gets over 300 days of rain a year! A sunny day would be a day to rejoice!
This is a look from the Hermitage back over the river.
Catherine the Great, empress of Russia, began collecting a huge amount of art in 1763, and needed somewhere to put it. So she built one building after another along side the Winter Palace. The Hermitage is comprised of six historic buildings along the Palace Embankment. This includes the Winter Palace (former residence of the Russian Emperors) the Small Hermitage, the Old Hermitage, the New Hermitage and the Hermitage Theatre. There are over three million pieces of art in the collection and only a small amount are shown in the museum. Some of the pieces of art are also sent to be exhibited in museum centers abroad. The Hermitage was opened to the public in 1852. There is a fee to get in and foreign visitors are allowed in first. I thought that we got in first for two reasons, just my hunch. We probably pay more to get in and they want to keep an eye on us. I felt bad for all the Russians waiting in line because the lines were already long and around the block by the time we got there. Here we are at the front door, let’s go in!
A little about Catherine II…………..Catherine was born, Princess Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst, in Poland and married Peter III of Russia in 1745. After overthrowing her husband in a coup and having him killed, she ruled Russia from 1762 until 1796, when she died. She was Russia’s longest-ruling female leader. AND VERY CONTROVERSIAL. She was known for bringing Russia up to par with the other European countries, since they considered Russia to be very backward, and it’s people far from being sophisticated or knowledgable. Catherine waged war, showed a shrewdness for politics, increased the size of her country and dealt in the arts on a massive scale, to show them all. She was also fond of young men and took many lovers. When she grew tired of one she would give them a palace and land and move on to the next. Way to go Catherine!
Once inside the museum, we were greeted by lots of stern looking security people, who controlled what rooms and how many people would be allowed in each room at a time. They also controlled how fast the group moved along. There were hundreds of folks shifting along, bumper to bumper. As you will soon see, I have lots of photos of floors and ceilings! They were my best photos and the only photos without heads, backs, etc. in them!
It is finally our turn to go up the stairs!
So I’m looking up!
Until I got to the Throne Room ………no one in front of me there… Security said off limits!
My the floor was nice!
And so was the ceiling in the Military Portraits Hall!
We moved on to the Golden Peacock Hall………..
and loved the mosaic floor……..
and the Golden Peacock!
and from this angle too………..
Next was the Russian Icon room…….
This icon was my favorite…….
and another look at the ceilings here …….they were magnificent!
I called this room the Pink Palace…..
You can see we walked along a long corridor from beautiful room to beautiful room! The opulence to be seen here was an understatement. You simply could not take it all in!
until we came to the watermelon-colored room………where the paintings began.
Rows and rows of paintings………
Then down another staircase……..flanked by angels……..
Into Statue Hall……..
another look at the stairs……from this view……
Down to what I called the Head Room……..
You can get the feel for the size of the room ……
Then walking through the outer halls, we could see what holds up the Hermitage……
It’s on the Russians’ backs……
and a last look from the inside out!
I hope you have enjoyed this brief trip through the Hermitage….tomorrow we will see the Fabergé Museum! See you there!