The world’s second largest museum, the Hermitage offers luxurious tapestries, marble columns and millions of intricate works, making it a must-visit for art enthusiasts from all over the world
If you’re an art lover or just want to spend time moseying around looking at the finer things in life, a visit to the world-renowned State Hermitage Museum located in St Petersburg is a glorious way to spend a few hours or even a day.
The second-largest art museum in the world, it showcases over 3 million items in its collection.
Founded in 1764 when Empress Catherine the Great acquired an impressive collection of paintings from the Berlin merchant Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky, the museum is the city’s most popular visitor attraction. From ancient relics of the culture and art of Eurasia to the art of medieval Daghestan, it is estimated that a visitor would need 11 years to view each exhibit on display for just one minute.
The museum houses permanent exhibitions, Faberge eggs and collections, to name but a few.
The Hermitage buildings:
The Hermitage collection consists of the Menshikov Palace, the general staff building, the Hermitage Theatre, the New Hermitage, the Small Hermitage, the Great (Old) Hermitage and the Winter Palace.
The Menshikov Palace is located on Vasilyevsky Island and was one of the very first buildings in Saint Petersburg. The rooms are decorated using marble, paintings and moldings, sculptures, carved and inlaid wood, Russian glazed tiles and tapestries.
The general staff building is one of the most famous architectural monuments in Saint Petersburg and houses Russian and European decorative art, paintings and sculptures from the 19th and 20th centuries, (including Impressionist and Postimpressionist paintings, Matisse, and Picasso.
The Hermitage Theatre hosts performances and exhibitions and is decorated with theatrical masks.
The New Hermitage was the first building in Russia constructed specially to house the museum collections. The collections include ancient art, as well as EU paintings, sculptures and decorative art.
The Small Hermitage situated next to the Winter Palace houses the famous Peacock Clock, which is located in the Pavilion Hall. The galleries host Western EU paintings and decorative art works.
The Great (Old) Hermitage is located next to the Small Hermitage and mostly displays Italian Renaissance art.
The Winter Palace is a beautiful green, white and gold building on the side of the Neva River, sprawling across the connected buildings of the Small Hermitage and the Old Hermitage.
Founded by Catherine the Great, it houses the largest collection and includes grand halls and chambers, Eurasia and Eastern antiquities, paintings, sculptures and decorative art works.
Located in between the Winter Palace and Palace Square, the museum complex can be reached the following ways:
Bus: 7, 10, 24, 191.
Metro: Admiralteyskaya, Nevsky Prospekt, Gostiny Dvor.
Trolleys: 1, 7, 10, 11.
The entrance for visitors is located at 2, Palace Square, St Petersburg.
Entry costs and opening times:
The main museum complex is open:
Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday: 10.30am-18.00pm
Wednesday and Friday: 10.30am-21.00pm
The ticket offices close one hour before museum closure.
The museum is closed on Mondays, 1 January and 9 May.
Buying tickets there: (tickets purchased at the museum’s ticket offices on the day of visit)
Tickets to the main museum complex can be purchased only at the ticket office of the main museum complex, at the ticket terminals or online.
Only tickets to the Hermitage branches can be purchased at the ticket offices of the Hermitage branches.
A ticket to the main museum complex and the branches (the main museum complex, the general staff building, Winter Palace of Peter the Great, Menshikov Palace, the Museum of the Imperial Porcelain Factory) costs 700 RUB.
A ticket to the Main Museum Complex and the branches (the main museum complex, the general staff building and Winter Palace of Peter the Great) costs 400 RUB for Russian and Belarusian citizens.
A ticket to just one of the Hermitage branches: (the Winter Palace of Peter the Great, the Menshikov Palace, the Museum of the Imperial Porcelain Factory, the Staraya Derevnya Restoration and Storage Centre) costs 300 RUB. This tour can only be conducted via a guided tour.
A 1-day ticket to the main museum complex and general staff building costs $17.95.
A 2-day ticket to the main museum complex, general staff building, Winter Palace of Peter the Great, Menshikov Palace and the Museum of the Imperial Porcelain Factory costs $23.95
An online ticket voucher is valid for 180 days.
You can buy tickets here: https://www.hermitageshop.org/tickets/
TIP: The third Thursday of each month offers free entrance to the museum for all individual visitors (with free tickets). Be aware though that the queue gets long in peak times, so it’s advised to go first thing.
Location: The Small Hermitage, Pavilion Hall
The Pavilion Hall was created in the Northern Pavilion of the Small Hermitage in the mid-19th. Placed between the windows is a white marble fireplace, where stands a mid-19th-century French clock featuring a bronze group of Cupid and Psyche.
The hall houses the famous Peacock Clock (by London jeweler and goldsmith James Cox), which was acquired by Catherine II. The figures of a peacock, cockerel and owl that form part of the timepiece-automaton are fitted with mechanisms that set them in motion.
TIP: Every Wednesday at 8pm the Peacock Clock is wound up.
Location: The Winter Palace, first floor
These heavily guarded galleries showcase a collection of priceless artifacts, from ancient Scythian and Greek goldwork to exquisite decorations from St. Petersburg’s court jewelers, including Carl Faberge and Scythian shield ornaments from the Crimea.
Entrance to the treasure galleries is by guided tour only.
Location: The Winter Palace, first floor
Accessed via the Jordan Staircase to the right of the main visitor entrance, the rooms depict the wealth and extravagant tastes of the Romanov Tsars.
The Small Throne Room is dedicated to Peter the Great, with wall coverings of deep red velvet embroidered with the Romanov eagle. Meanwhile, the 1812 Gallery celebrates Russia’s victory over Napoleon.
With many significant events happening in the rooms, they’re an insight into the Imperial Court’s ceremonies.
Western European Art (13th to 19th Centuries)
Location: The Winter Palace and The Great Hermitage, first floor
Based on the collections bought up by Catherine the Great to fill the walls of the Small and Great Hermitages, it has been expanded over the years and now includes major painting collections by Rubens and Rembrandt. Further, two of 12 surviving works by Leonardo da Vinci (the tiny Benois Madonna of 1478 and the Madonna Litta of 1490-91) can be seen here.
You can also find Raphael Loggias’ copy of the Vatican’s interior.
Location: The Old Hermitage, first floor
Covering 31 halls, the antiquities collection includes Egyptian, Assyrian and Mesopotamian artifacts, in addition to Greek and Roman statuary.
Here you can see Catherine the Great’s collection of ancient cameos and engraved intaglio seals, with examples dating back to the Aegean era (2nd millennium BC).
Location: The general staff building, third and fourth floors
The building’s arch is a symbol Russia’s glory and military triumph and forms a symmetrical axe with the central part of the Winter Palace.
The eastern wing of the General Staff Building originally housed the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and several other ministries of the Russian Empire.
French painting of the second half of the 19th century, including the Impressionists, Post-Impressionists and the artists of the Nabis group, can be found on the fourth floor rooms of Sergey Shchukin and the Morozov Brothers Memorial Gallery. Several rooms present the works by Matisse, Picasso and other 20th century artists.
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