Formerly the homes of tsars, the five buildings which comprise the Hermitage now house one of the finest art collections in the world. This year sees the Hermitage celebrate it’s 250th anniversary, so what better time to see it than now? I accompanied one of our guides on a tour of the Hermitage, and found my own hidden treasures.
Keep the windows either on your left or on your right, and you won’t miss anything in the Museum… or get lost!
Do your research. If you only have a day, don’t try and see everything in the Museum. Choose sections before you go and make a list of must see’s – the museum is too big to see everything all in one go. Many people visit several times. My own highlights were the “Hermitage Rembrandts”, the “Hermitage Matisses” and the Jordan Staircase in the Winter Palace.
Our morning tour starts at 10am and gives you three hours with a guide. During the afternoon you are free to stay in the Hermitage to look around yourself, or go back and see pieces that may have caught your eye earlier. Many other tour leaders take their groups for lunch around 1pm, leaving the museum less crowded for you to view at a leisurely pace while everyone’s eating.
The buildings that the Hermitage occupies are brilliant examples of European architecture. The walls of these buildings have also seen a great number of important historical events and almost all history of the Russian Empire took place within them – from Peter the Great to Nicolas II. Make sure you take time to admire the work of art that is the Hermitage, not just it’s contents.
Our guides are extremely knowledgeable and are there to answer questions. Use their knowledge to gain background on the pieces – each work of art has it’s own story. For example, one of my favourite paintings is the Benois Madonna. This painting belonged to Leon Benois, an Italian artist, who was travelling through Russia and had inherited the piece years earlier. He had no idea that it was the work of Leonardo da Vinci!