- Location: St.Petersburg, Russia
- Attraction Type: Museum and Palace
- Significance: Museum with the largest collection of paintings in the world
- Best time to Visit: Any time except winters. Winters are harsh in Russia
- Visiting Hours: 10:30 am to 5:30 on weekdays, Sunday till 5 pm.
- How to Reach: St.Petersburg is well connected by road, rail and air service to Moscow and other parts of the Russian Federation.
- Nearest Airport: Pulkovo International Airport
Located at the center of St. Petersburg on the banks of the Neva river, the Winter Palace was once the emblem of the might of the Russian Empire. Converted to a museum now, this sprawling Elizabethan mansion has seen its share of upheavals since it was built in the 1730s. Designed and redesigned for many years after the initial construction, the palace was meant to be a symbol of power. Bartolomeo Rastrelli is considered to be the main architect of the building. In 1837 it was devastated by fire and rebuilt by others. The palace was stormed during the February Revolution of 1917 and was briefly the seat of power for the budding Soviet socialist republic.
Step inside the palace and you will know the grandeur of living that the Tsars enjoyed. This palace is truly large. It has more than 1500 doors and windows and rooms and 117 staircases. The main facade of the palace was deliberately made 500 feet wide and 100 feet high to make it imposing. The innards of the palace were equally extravagant at its height. Take this for example—- an easing stool for the Tsaritsa was made of silver and studded with rubies!
The palace has been home to the Hermitage museum since 1852 when Catherine the Great opened it to the public. The collection has been embellished over time and the total number is upwards of 3 million items. Only a fraction of them is under permanent display at the Winter Palace. Artifacts from ancient Babylon, Greece and even from the paleolithic era are on display. It houses the largest collection of paintings in the world, brought home by the Imperial and Red army over the centuries.
Take time with you when you visit this palace. There are so many things to see that you must take more than a day to appreciate all on display.
Things to Do:
The Palace and Museum regularly host exhibitions. From Books to stones from the collection of Duke of Orleans—-the things on display are sure to enthrall you with their variety and rarity. There is also a Gala Banquet every year in June which sees the best and the brightest of Russia. The Museum has 15 departments in all. Try not to miss the following even if you are pressed for time——–
- The Department of Western European Art
- The Department of Art and Culture of Antiquity
- The Department of Russian Culture
- The Oriental Department
- The Arsenal
- The Department of Archeology of Eastern Europe and Siberia
Other Activities: The Hermitage Museum has its very own orchestra. Started by a USSR State prize Winner, it tours widely and is regarded as good enough for Yehudi Menuhin, Victor Tretyakov, and others to have performed with them. If you have some time, spend an evening appreciating their performance. It is time well spent.
St. Petersburg is one of the biggest cities in the Russian Federation. Hence finding accommodation is not a problem. Searching online is a good way to start. Some of the hotels are given below:
- Grand Hotel Europe,
Nevsky Prospekt, Mikhailovskaya Ulitsa 1/7,
St. Petersburg, Russia.
Phone: +7 812 329 6000
11 ya Liniya, Vasilevsky, Ostrov
Phone.: +7 (812) 323-22-31