A visit to the Hermitage
Almost everyone who comes to St. Petersburg for any amount of time visits certain “must see” sights in the city. There are all the world famous cathedrals, palaces and of course, museums like the State Hermitage (Государственный Эрмитаж) that make St. Petersburg such an amazing place to visit. Despite the widespread praise of these sites, I personally have always thought they were too “touristy” to take the time to visit. However, this past Orthodox Christmas, I decided to use my day off and woke up early to get in line to visit this world class museum. To put my overall impression into one word, I’d have to just say WOW!
As one of the world’s oldest and largest museums of art and culture and largest and most visited museum in Russia, it should not seem too surprising that it would leave such an impression. The Russian Tsarina, Catharine the Great opened the museum with paintings from her own collection in 1764 and later opened it to the public in 1852. Since then, the collection has grown to include over 3 million pieces, of which only a small number are on display. Needless to say, it takes a very long time to see even a small portion of the exhibitions in the Hermitage. It doesn’t help that the museum is housed in one of the most beautiful buildings in Europe, the Winter Palace (Зимний дворец) whose beauty can sometimes actually distract you from the pieces on display!
In total, I spent about three hours in the museum and was able to get a decent overview of the collection. But to really appreciate the masterpieces housed there, I will need to pay it another visit.
Thanks to the international student id card I got from Liden & Denz, admission to the museum was free! So, if you wish to visit the museum, don’t forget to bring it! Also, remember that the museum is not open on Mondays and that the first Thursday is free for everyone. Which would be good for the general public, but means that the line will be unbearably long.
Make sure to check out this amazing place for yourself when you are in St. Petersburg!