The Hermitage, St Petersburg

It’s silly the little things that can surprise you and make your day. We often have free breakfasts which usually consist of bread and occasionally egg but today we found out that our free breakfast was in a cafe downstairs and when we sat down we got proper coffee, fried eggs, bacon and sausage! Well that set us (me) up for the day perfectly!
Plan of attack today was to walk down to the Hermitage and spend pretty much as long there as was required. It was a bit of a grey day but warmer than we had been in Moscow at least and we didn’t mind walking around the centre of St Petersburg especially as the streets are lined with such amazingly beautiful buildings. I think it would be amazing to see this place with blue skies but grey seems to be the order of the day for us!
First major sight today was St Isaac’s Cathedral but we just did a walk by as we wanted to get to the Hermitage. The pedestrianised Square outside the Hermitage is fantastically huge and houses the Winter Palace and the General Staff building both of which are full of grandeur and in the centre is a column commemorating Alexander I and his victory over Napoleon in 1812.
By the time we got to the Hermitage there were already massive queues but we noticed a couple of electronic screens in one corner of the square and sure enough we managed to get our tickets and jump ahead of everyone which made us feel pretty chuffed. The scrum continued inside the entrance with everyone trying to check coats and buy audio guides etc but once we were through that bit everyone disappeared. The place is so big that everyone spread out and we were able to wander around often all alone.
First things first the place is absolutely huge with over 360 rooms and most of these are absolutely amazingly ornate in their design. In fact some rooms didn’t even need artwork on the walls as they were a work of art in themselves!! The detail and opulence was on show right from the start and we were both oohing and aahing from the moment we walked up the first staircase. We were in danger of getting lost so we downloaded an audio guide and then proceeded to spend the rest of the day wandering around the huge interior seeing what felt like all 360 rooms!
Time passed quickly though as the artworks on show along with the building itself were really spectacular and to top the day off there was a Dali exhibition opening that day which was nice to finish off with some modernism after looking at paintings from the 1600s for most of the day.
The Hermitage and the Winter Palace have been a combination of Museum and residence of the Royal family for centuries. The Hermitage has been open to the public as a museum since 1852 and I have to admit that it was a day well spent even though we were both exhausted by the end and when we finally got out of the place it was pretty much dark! We had wanted to try and see a couple of other places today but it was time well spent and we will have to just walk a bit further tomorrow!! T

St Isaacs’s Cathedral, one of the larger churches in Russia and a very enterprising man right outside.

Some loon leaning into the wind outside the Hermitage.

They weren’t necessarily the most impressive aspect of the Hermitage but the patterns in the wooden floors were fantastic.  Also considering the amount of foot traffic they have been subjected to they are in amazing condition.

In one hall the floor patterns mirrored the ceiling but as you can see from the photos above and below it was a difficult thing to capture.

It was very difficult to pick favourites but these were certainly up there.

You can’t have enough red velvet and gold trim!

The rooms all had imaginative names like, “The Gold Room”.

Or “The Gold Hall” 

The odd piece of artwork is here too! Rembrandt being one of the more famous.

Russia’s latest ballerina!

The detail in some of the halls was just ridiculous.  The one above is actually modelled on one from a hall in The Vatican.

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