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Excursion in the Hermitage- the famous museum in St. Petersburg

The Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg is the largest art museum in Russia  and one of the best and largest art museums in the world.
Its collection numbers more than 3 000 000 works of art, which are displayed in about 400 rooms of four different palaces: the Winter palacethe Small Hermitagethe OldHermitage and the New Hermitage. Different ages, countries and peoples are represented in beautiful halls of this museum.
The eldest Hermitage building is the Winter Palace -the living house of Russian tsars. It was built in 1762 by the order of Empress Elizabeth (by Italian architect Rastrelli). But when the Winter Palace was completed, Elizabeth had already died. The real owner became Empress Catherine the Great, who started  her personal art collection and constructed new building close to the Winter Palace, named the Small Hermitage. Firstly, only this new construction was called the Hermitage  (from «Ermitage» (french) -place of a hermit), but later this name was taken by the whole museum.
Catherine the Great learnt about all interesting auction sales in Europe, spent enormous sums of money striking bargains with European nobility and royalty, sent Russian diplomats and ambassadors abroad to purchase pieces of art. She made friends with European art-connoisseurs and her collection was enlarged. Ever-growing collection of paintings, sculptures, furniture, carved stones and jewellery needed more and more places. Because of it other buildings of the Hermitage complex were made.

Since Catherine’s time, collecting of works of art became a royal tradition. Each emperor enriched the Hermitage collection.
Private royal collection was displayed in the Hermitage until the middle of XIX century when Nikolas I  opened the New Hermitage building for well-dressed visitors.
Only after Bolshevik revolution in 1917 the Hermitage opened its treasures to the public. At that time collection was greatly enriched with the nationalized collections of nobility.
When the Second World War started in 1941 and Nazis besieged Leningrad (the name of the city in Soviet time) it’s collection was partly evacuated to Siberia. Only empty picture frames were left in this time on the empty walls of the museum. Another part of collection was placed in basements of the Hermitage. After the War collection were returned back to the museumand the Hermitage was opened to the public again.

Today the Hermitage has the second largest collection of French art and French impressionists in the world, the second largest collection of Rembrandt, the second largest collection of Spanish art, one of the best collections of Italian art with priceless works of Leonardo da Vinci, Rafael, Titian, Rubens, Michelangelo, Caravaggio.
Each person can find something interesting for himself: original art collection, breathtaking interiors made 180 years ago or imposing staircases.
During this excursion you will see the real masterpieces of Old masters, all highlights of European art collectioncollection of French impressionists which are all is housed under one roof in the beautifulest halls of four different palaces of the Hermitage.

Other interesting sights of St. Petersburg