Founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great, the Hermitage is one of the oldest and most famous art museums in the world. The Winter Palace, the former residence of the tsars, was the first of 6 buildings which today make up The Hermitage and were built to hold a growing art collection which today includes more than 3 million pieces. No other museum in the world has as many paintings.
As might be expected, the interiors are fabulous, so you have to balance your visit with viewing spectacular design along with some of the most famous paintings in the world. All while trying to keep your jaws from dropping in wonder.
The Great Throne Room for an example with its white marble columns and bronze chandeliers.
As well as the Peter the Great Room with a gilded silver throne as its centerpiece.
Statuary, as well as paintings, were on display
including The Three Graces by Canova.
Every doorway brought new delights
The ceilings were amazing.
Can't get too "baroque" for me!
With the quality of the artwork and the permission to take photos, it was hard to choose which ones to share, but I decided to show you four Madonnas. The first ones are two of the museum's highlights. Out of the 10 or 12 paintings in the world left to us by Leonardo da Vinci, there are two in The Hermitage. The Benois Madonna
and The Madonna Litta.
Almost as famous are two Madonnas by Raphael. This one is The Conestabile Madonna
and above, The Holy Family.
These took on special significance to me after reading The Madonnas of Leningrad before my trip, which tells the story of the siege of St. Petersburg at the beginning of World War II and the desperate attempt of Marina, along with the other docents of The Hermitage to save the artwork from potential destruction. A very moving book, and if a trip to St. Petersburg is not in your immediate future, this book might be just what you'd enjoy to make the museum come alive.