Following on from our Russian meal and folklore show on Vasilyevsky Island our coach took us back over the River Neva to the main draw for us of our short visit to Saint Petersburg, the State Hermitage Museum. Museums are big on the to-visit list whenever we’re travelling and from the moment we first booked this Baltic cruise with Princess we knew that any excursion we took would have to include this particular world famous attraction.

The main entrance to the Hermitage was in the Winter Palace building, a sight we’d seen throughout our day in Saint Petersburg up to this point, whether from across the Neva or from behind it in the Palace Square. There was a fair queue of people waiting to enter and we had a few minutes gathered outside the building before our group was ushered in.

Inside the museum there was a general hum of conversations. Our group, like many others, was using in-ear audio systems so we could hear our guide; these had a limited range so as we tried to stick together and as I got distracted wandering off to take pictures the sound would often cut out and I’d have to walk around until the audio kicked back in so that I knew I was nearing the group once more.

The Hermitage Museum is the second largest art museum in the world but it’s not just its contents that attract the eye; the buildings that form the museum are as much part of the collection and their stunning ceiling decorations or room designs are often the first thing you notice as you move from room to room.

The Peacock Clock was a very popular attraction making it difficult to get close to and photograph. Quite why so many people were simply standing in front of it wasn’t clear as it obviously wasn’t in action at the time. A TV screen off to one side showed looping footage of the clock operating.

Thrones on display provided a source of entertainment for me as several tourists tried to get as close to the seats as possible for selfies or to pose for friends; a rather stern, local woman acting as guardian was kept busy shouting at anyone who so much as touched the rope barrier designed to ensure everyone kept their distance. I imagine that was a very tiring job for her.

The organisation of the paintings in the galleries was excellent with the artwork being arranged both by nationality and by time so you could hit, for example, the Dutch artists area and progress forward from 15th century to 16th century and so on.

While there were a lot of pieces by artists we’d never heard of there were others that were very well-known indeed. The Madonna And Child by Leonardo Da Vinci was particularly nice to see up close.

Also great to see, even if it was only roughly-finished, was a sculpture by Michelangelo called Crouching Boy.

A very attractive corridor in the Hermitage was called The Raphael Loggias, apparently a copy of a gallery in the Papal Palace in the Vatican commissioned by Empress Catherine II in the 1780s.

We had around two hours or so in total in the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg which of necessity really only touched the surface of what was there; the same could be said of any large museum or art gallery, of course. In truth, though, for a short visit to the city a couple of hours is about all I’d recommend in the museum in order to avoid art fatigue. Towards the end we could feel our attention wandering a little bit and were finding it harder to absorb what was being said to us by our guide.

We had about fifteen minutes of free time at the end of our tour to either go back and look at anything we’d whizzed past or to take a look at the shops; we elected to do the latter in order to find a suitable souvenir of our time there, this ending up being just a bookmark. After this we met the rest of our group at the predetermined gathering spot then headed outside to board our coach for the trip back to the ship and I snapped a few photos across the water.

This visit to the Hermitage Museum concluded the first excursion of the day in Saint Petersburg. We would still have an evening trip to the ballet to come and a half-day excursion planned for the day after that would see us take a wonderful river cruise around the city.

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State Hermitage Museum


One Comment

  1. Your photos are wonderful! I always watch them with pleasure. Thank you!

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