Hi folks. Things got busy towards the end of last year.
Now, where was I?
On day three of our trip we met our guide Elena in the hotel lobby and walked the fifteen minutes to the Hermitage, one of the world’s greatest museums.
I think part of my inability to blog for four months was the enormity of having to try to complete this post on the Hermitage and do it any kind of justice. It is the most amazing place and certainly one of the highlights of the trip. In my opinion the Hermitage outshines the Louvre in Paris for its size, range of artworks and artifacts, and also its incredible beauty.
The Hermitage comprises six buildings including the Winter Palace, which, from 1732 to 1917 was the official residence of the Russian Tsars. The Winter Palace by itself has over one thousand rooms and 117 staircases and covers an area of half a million square feet! In 1917 the storming of the Winter Palace by the Bolsheviks deposed the ruling provisional government and began the Russian Revolution. Above you can see the famous State (or Jordan, or Ambassador) Staircase designed by Bartolomeo Rastrelli.
The Armorial Hall.
The Leonardo da Vinci Room.
The Raphael Loggias are a copy of the gallery in the Vatican.
The Small White Dining Room. It was this room that was “stormed” by the Bolsheviks at the beginning of the Russian Revolution. The provisional government led by Alexander Kerensky was arrested here and imprisoned, marking the beginning of a civil war that would give rise to the Soviet Union.
The clock on the mantelpiece has been stopped at that time.
As well as the grand architecture the Hermitage contains wonderful artworks and antiquities – over three million items. If you were to spend thirty seconds looking at each piece it would take you nine years (with no sleep) to see everything. We spent close to seven hours there and we all agreed that having a private guide meant that we saw so much more than we would have if only armed with a map. Elena was brilliant, not only in the depth of her knowledge about the Hermitage and its contents but also the fact that she knew all the shortcuts, which enabled us to make the best use of our time.
This is only a small part of the Hermitage collection. In addition there are Prehistoric, Classical, Oriental, Russian, Italian, Spanish, Flemish, Dutch, German, French and English collections…
We also had a special tour of the Hermitage’s Gold Room/Treasury, full of treasures of ancient and modern Russian civilizations, but you weren’t allowed to take photos inside.
We went to about 3pm without stopping even for a coffee let alone lunch. We then had a late lunch in the cafe and re-grouped, working out what we still needed to see. It was a while ago now but I don’t think we left until around 5pm.
That night we had dinner at a restaurant just around the corner from the hotel but I can’t remember what it was called! There was a cart’s wooden wheel hanging outside the door, so maybe it was called The Wheel? I was getting quite fond of blinis with red caviar as you can see above.