“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!”
In all of my dreams of traveling the world, Russia never crossed my mind…it seemed so distant and unattainable! But in 2013, we found ourselves on a Baltic Sea cruise that would take us to eight different ports of call in eight different countries…something this small town girl never saw coming! Three of these ports were in the former Soviet Union, and I, being the history buff that I am, found it extremely fascinating! St. Petersburg was our only port in Russia and it is the second largest city and the most westernized.
(You may remember when we visited the Catherine Palace)
On our first morning, I was so excited that we had landed an early tour of The Hermitage Museum which meant that we would start one hour prior to the general public and not be bombarded by the crowds! But due to unexpected hassles of immigration and visa issues, our group did not arrive on time, so we got the full experience…including the hordes of visitors! But we were determined not to let that spoil the tour, and were immediately swept into the intriguing history and opulent lifestyle of the Romanov dynasty! The Hermitage consists of five historic interconnected buildings with the most impressive being the Winter Palace. With just one morning to take in this vast museum, we were only able to hit the highlights…but trust me, you could spend weeks exploring! Let’s take a look!
The Winter Palace was the main residence of the Romanov Tsars from 1732 until the revolution in 1917. This Baroque-style palace is also the main building of the Hermitage Museum and is located on the bank of the Neva River. It is St. Petersburg’s most impressive and visited attraction with more than three million visitors per year.
The Hermitage is one of the largest and oldest museums in the world, founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great. Its collections comprise over three million items including the largest collection of paintings in the world.
The baroque style is a grand introduction to the extravagance of the palace.
…many of the Imperial court’s formal ceremonies and elaborate receptions were held in this room decorated with white Italian carrara marble.
This narrow but long room houses 333 gold framed portraits of military commanders instrumental in defeating Napoleon.
Pavilion Hall, a light filled room, was designed in the mid-19th century…
The peacock that is perched in an oak tree spreads its wings and rotates 360 degrees and then bows. It was designed in the 18th century and the entire mechanism still runs.
Leonardo da Vinci’s Madonna and Child is dated to the first half of the 1490’s.
The Lute Player by Caravaggio is circa 1595.
…and this was just a glimpse of what we saw. Imagine 120 different rooms packed full of masterpieces! Although there was much more to explore, it was still a wonderful experience! Thank you for traveling with me!
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