Friday 11 November 2016

St Petersburg: Winter Palace / State Hermitage Museum

In St Petersburg, we had the opportunity to peep into the opulent lifestyle of the monarchs who once reigned supreme in Russia.
The tsars (aka emperors) who ruled Russia from 1547 to 1918 were incredibly wealthy, building for themselves huge residences that were sumptuously adorned to flaunt their wealth. Many of these palaces remain but most have been turned into museums. Among the largest, the most spectacular and the most famous is Winter Palace which served as a winter residence for the Russian tsars.
Winter Palace is now part of an enormous complex housing State Hermitage Museum in the heart of St Petersburg. It is so huge that snapping a photo of the whole building is almost impossible unless it is done from a distance. The best shot I got of it was from a boat while cruising Neva River.
This palace was built in 1754, but was constantly expanded, remodeled, and refurbished into the 19th century to cater to the whims and fancies of the tsars and tsarinas who resided there. It was restored after a major fire destroyed a big part of its interior in 1837. The palace is so immense it actually has 1786 doors, 1945 windows, 1057 halls and rooms and 117 staircases, a statistic that would stun almost anyone. Winter Palace and the other buildings that make up State Hermitage Museum are sandwiched between Palace Square and the bank of Neva River. The entire museum complex now houses more than 3 million exhibits that once belonged to the the ruling monarch. 
A grand staircase awaited us at the entrance into one of the palace wings. Jordan Staircase with its marble banister is decorated all the way from the walls to the ceiling. These are just initial glimpses into the luxurious and extravagant lifestyle of the tsars and their families.

Ceilings, too are well adorned with frescoes and beautiful cornices.
It is impossible to visit all the rooms as there are too many but every room or hall we visited exude unbelievable extravagance and grandeur.

A Virtual Tour Of Winter Palace & Hermitage Museum (Photo Gallery)
I noticed no two rooms or halls look alike. Each is individually decorated with very ornate and intricate details.
Peter The Great's Memorial Throne Room is among the remarkable rooms in the palace.
The decor and furnishing from the floor, to the walls, ceiling and every nook and corner are amazing pieces of artwork.

There are halls that glitter with everything painted gold and gold plated. 
The best of architects were commissioned to design this palace.

Pavillion Hall is mesmerizing and it is one of my favorites within the palace halls seen that day.
The decorative items in each room and hall must have been priceless treasures now.
There is a lovely courtyard outside one of the halls but there could be more of such courtyards in the entire premise.
One facade of Winter Palace overlooks the picturesque Neva River. 

We had time just to visit the highlights of Winter Palace but had to move on to the other buildings of State Hermitage Museum. All the buildings are interconnected. 
The entire museum complex comprises 5 main buildings. Seen here are three of them. From the right: Winter Palace, Small Hermitage and Old Hermitage
To the left of Old Hermitage is Hermitage Theatre  which is hidden in this picture and behind Old Hermitage is New Hermitage  which is also hidden in this picture.
The connecting hallways are very charming and the eyes will be well feasted gazing at the details.

The various ceiling panels are individually painted and the frescoes are all different from one another.

Surprisingly the setting and style of some of the things seen share similarities with the ones in the Vatican Museums.

State Hermitage Museum is one of the largest and oldest museums in the world. The exhibits are displayed in 350 rooms and to visit each and every room will take days. To savor each and every item on display would probably take weeks or even months.
There are works of arts by famous artists, collection of jewelries, coins, vases, sculptures just to name a few. The duration of our visit was just 2 hours so there are definitely a lot other things we missed.

The glory of the tsars ended in 1917 when the last tsar, Nicholas II and his entire family were executed during the Russian Revolution. The pent-up anger and frustrations of the people finally surfaced as the extravagance and lavishness of the tsars came at the expense of the suffering population
Visitors are not allowed to wear thick coats and carry big bags into State Hermitage Museum. These have to be kept at the hallway before entering the museum proper.

Click To See Other Related Posts:
1. A Trip To Russia - Introductory Post
2. Russia: A Day Out At Sergiyev Posad
3. My Russian Dining Experience
4. Russian Souvenirs

5.  Cathedral Of Christ The Saviour
6. Moscow Hard Rock Cafe And Old Arbat Street
7. Russia: Moscow Metro
8.  Moscow Kremlin
9. Sparrow Hill And Victory Park
10. Museum Of Cosmonautics And Ostankino Tower
11. Red Square (Krasnaya Ploshchard)
12. Saint Basil's Cathedral
13. GUM Department Store
14. Milan Hotel Review
15. What I Like About Moscow

16. From Moscow To St Petersburg On Sapsan High Speed Train
17. Winter Palace/ State Hermitage Museum
18. St Isaac's Cathedral And Some Nearby Attractions
19. Seeing St Petersburg From Its Rivers
20. St Petersburg Most Gorgeous Building
21.St Petersburg's Peter And Paul Fortress
22.A Traditional Village , A Modern City
23. A Visit To 2 Summer Palaces
24. Smolninskaya Hotel

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