Tuesday, September 17, 2013
OK, I’m not a huge fan of museums, although I’ve been through a few great ones in my time. The State Hermitage Museum is a must see, if you get to this part of the world. Getting up, having breakfast, and getting to our 8:30am meeting spot – after getting to bed a 2am – was short of a miracle, but we managed it. 20,000 people a day go through the Hermitage. The Hermitage is actually the Winter Palace, commissioned by Empress Elizabeth Petrovna in the mid-1700s. It is my understanding that the Hermitage was never actually used as a palace, but became a place to showcase the vast treasures accumulated by the czars and prominent families throughout Russian history – and there is frankly, no lack of it! And the pure splendor of the facility, itself, is simply amazing. We were extremely impressed by what we saw in the Kremlin Museum, but that quickly paled when we made our way through the Hermitage.
There are multiple rooms and wings with different themes and content. We entered via the grand staircase to begin our guided tour. We saw artwork of the 15th and 16th centuries from Renoir, Degas, Monet, Van Gogh, DaVinci and Cezanne. We saw the Field Marshal’s Hall, the Throne Room, etc. It is said that if you spent one minute looking at each of their cataloged items, you would be in the museum for 11 years!
It was interesting to see how clocks evolved through history – starting with hour hands, only, and adding minute hands, later. The most ornate timepiece piece I have ever seen was created by an Englishman and was a guilded peacock clock ——- INCREDIBLE MOVEMENT.
YouTube Video Link
We spent almost one hour in what is called The Gold Room, an amazing collection of gold items that crossed many centuries. The detail on some pieces could only be appreciated by viewing through a magnifying glass. A museum guide spoke in Russian and that was translated by our Russian guide, who obviously goes through this room frequently, still giggled and had wide eyes when we went through. Again – simply amazing.
And the marble and guild and gold leaf, etc – wow.
The Hermitage was and is a must see for anyone visiting St. Petersburg.
We bussed back to the ship and crashed – catching up on the sleep we lost on the trip to Moscow.