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Outstanding Art in St Petersburg

Stretched out along the banks of the Neva River in St Petersburg, the State Hermitage Museum is one of the world's oldest and largest galleries of art and culture. Its collection exceeds three million items, and due to its sheer volume, only a portion of the collection is on display at any given time. The six buildings making up the museum complex include the Small Hermitage, Old Hermitage, New Hermitage, Hermitage Theater, the Reserve House and the Winter Palace – the former home of the Russian Tsars.

The museum was founded by Catherine the Great in 1764 and many of the items on display came from her personal collections. The Russian Empress started her art collection by buying a selection of paintings from Berlin-based art merchant Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky which contained works by Rubens, Rembrandt, Anthony van Dyck, Jacob Jordaens, Paolo Veronese, Titian, Raphael, Holbein, and Jan Steen. Her collections grew to include approximately 4,000 paintings; 10,000 engraved gems; 38,000 books; 10,000 drawings; 16,000 coins and medals and a huge natural history collection. The Old Hermitage was built to house the growing collection.

Categories under which items are displayed include Egyptian Antiquities; Classical Antiquities; Prehistoric Art; Jewelry and Decorative Art; Italian Renaissance; Italian and Spanish Fine Art; Knight’s Hall; Dutch Golden Age and Flemish Baroque; German British, Swiss and French Fine Art; Russian Art; Neoclassical, Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Art. The collection includes items of art going right back to the Stone Age, along with more contemporary artworks, from throughout Russia and around the world.

The remarkable Winter Palace offers a window into an era in history when the Russian Tsars ruled supreme. Built between 1754 and 1762, the Winter Palace reflects the opulence of the ruling class at that time. In addition to being an attraction in its own right, the Winter Palace is home to an impressive collection of art. Don't forget to take a walk through the staff quarters of the palace, as well as the neighboring Menshikov Palace.

Certainly, in a city with dozens of fascinating attractions, the State Hermitage Museum is extraordinary.


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