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The Art of Hermitage
The Art of Hermitage

One of the highlights of the White Nights in St. Petersburg tour will be a private guided visit to the State Hermitage Museum. Hermitage was once a private palace of the Russian Empress Catherine the Great, who used it as a retreat and a place for solitude - the hermitage - where only she alone could enter.

Today, the Hermitage art collection is spread over several buildings, including the Winter Palace and with over three million works of art representing many times and peoples, it captures the essence of the world's culture. From Paleolithic to contemporary, the collection presents the most extraordinary works of art in the world. Some of the highlights are two Madonnas by Leonardo da Vinci, masterpieces by Raphael, El Greco, Rubens and Rembrandt as well as a great collection of Impressionists which was taken from the Germans during World War II and which never leaves the country, so that it is not confiscated.

Top 10 Things To See In The Hermitage Collection
Top 10 Things To See In The Hermitage Collection

Time-short art lovers need look no further than our essential guide to one of the world's most prolific collections. So you’ve been to the Louvre; you’ve craned your neck to examine the Sistine Chapel, and you’ve traipsed the breadth of the Prussian parks and palaces in Berlin. Well, you needn’t have bothered – St. Petersburg has it all, housed in the State Hermitage Museum, formerly the imperial palace of many a great tsar and tsarina. The Hermitage Collection contains a mind-boggling three million items spread across 120 different rooms. You could spend days in here and not fully appreciate what’s on offer, so take a look at our top 10 things to see in the Hermitage Collection, for next time you’re in town.

  • Michelangelo's Crouching Boy A singular artwork by Renaissance sculptor and painter Michelangelo, this unfinished marble statue depicts a crouching boy in the nude. It is the only piece of his work within the Hermitage’s hallowed halls.
  • Statues Of Atlantes The building of the New Hermitage, which was designed to house the imperial museum collection, is guarded at the portico by 10 columned granite figures each representing a different artist, scientist, or thinker from history.
  • Treasure Gallery Between the rare pieces of Scythian and ancient Greek jewellery showcased in the Gold Rooms, and the exquisite collection of the Diamond Rooms, the immeasurable worth of the Treasure Gallery speaks for itself.
  • Raphael's Madonna Conestabile One of the highlights of the Hermitage Collection (otherwise known as Madonna and Child), don’t miss the opportunity to see one of Raphael’s seminal masterpieces up close and personal. The collection also comprises an early work on a similar theme, The Holy Family.
  • Malachite Room The spectacular Malachite Room is a vast sweeping drawing room caked in gold and embellished with lavish crimson curtains and malachite ornamentation. Once the drawing room of Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna (wife of Nicholas I), this room is particularly impressive.
  • Kolyvan Vase If you liked the Malachite Room, then you’ll love the Kolyvan Vase. At a crushing 19.2 tonnes, this is the biggest single piece of jasper in the world, and is a feat of stone-cutting craftsmanship.
  • Main Staircase It might not sound like much, but the Main Staircase is one of the museum’s most popular attractions. A cacophony of gilded frescoes and ornamentation, this ceremonial staircase is embellished with granite columns, classical sculptures, and sweeping balustrades of marble.
  • Peacock Clock Comprising a mechanical golden peacock, cockerel, and an owl, the resplendent Peacock Clock is a unique timepiece designed by the famous London jeweller and goldsmith, James Cox.
  • Leonardo Da Vinci Room Never mind the underwhelming Mona Lisa, the Hermitage Collection contains not one but two masterpieces by Leonardo da Vinci: the Madonna Litta and the Benois Madonna, one of the artist’s most popular works.
  • Knight's Hall As one of the largest interiors in the New Hermitage building, this majestic room is unsurprisingly a visitor highlight. The neo-Greek décor was originally intended to host a collection of coins, but today it showcases the history of arms and armour between the 15th and 17th centuries.

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