The State Hermitage Museum is one of the world’s great treasures, both for its palaces and for its magnificent art collection, the world’s largest. In the next post will be about the art.
The exterior of the Winter Palace, a green and white 3 story building, is full of sculptures, vases and Corinthian columns. When you enter are greeted by this magnificent staircase.
The palaces were built for various Russian czars and are the rival of Versailles. This Winter Palace has 1786 doors, 1945 windows, 117 staircases and 1057 lavishly decorated rooms.
You make your way around the Winter Palace with the aid of a well designed map, which helps a great deal but you have to bear in mind that the palaces were not built with tourists in mind, so you can still have a hard time finding what you are looking for if you are not skilled at map reading. I found that the guards could get you pointed in the right direction, despite not speaking much if any English, nor I any Russian beyond vodka and nyet.
These gold leaf columns knock you down with their luster.
There are many wonderful of caryatids, many of them in gold leaf.
The ceilings are magnificent as well.
The photos in this post come from the Winter Palace. There are 6 others open to the public. They are the Old Hermitage, The New Hermitage, the Small Hermitage, the Hermitage Theater, and the most recent additions, the General Staff Building and the
In 1731 Empress Anna Ioannovna commissioned Rastrelli, the court architect, later the famous master of late baroque to build the Winter Palace. He completed it in 1735. Seventeen years later Empress Elizaveta Petrovna hired him to expand the building. However he decided to start over. The new plans were approved in 1754. The building was finished in 1764 under Catherine.