The Hermitage: one of the world's great museums. Housed in 6 different historic buildings including the Winter Palace seen here, this museum was originally founded by Catherine the Great in 1764! It houses nearly 3 million items and is supposedly the largest collection of paintings in the world. It is definitely not to be missed, if only for the chance to wander around inside these buildings for a day!
The attention to detail is somewhat overwhelming! Everywhere you look there are examples of intricate handicraft and beautiful artwork. This is going to be a picture heavy/word light post.
I heard more American accents in just one room of the Hermitage than I did throughout the rest of my week in the city (my colleagues and friends excluded of course). Apparently, it is a popular day excursion for Baltic Sea cruises that come into port at St. Petersburg.
I needed Shona there to translate the Egyptian section, which just occupied a foyer near the entrance.
I've never seen such intricate and beautiful marble. The original owners (or artists) actually chose patterns in the marble depending on what the object was. For example, the spiral and floral patterns here accompanying the gold trim on this table. I also saw long, sinewy patterns running lengthwise up massive columns. One word: quality.
Now, onto the Yusupov palace (or Moika Palace after the river on which it faces), which is famous for being the place in which Rasputin was finally murdered after being beaten, poisoned, and shot before being drowned and frozen in the river!
The palace is much smaller than the Winter Palace, and you could tell that the previous owners didn't have nearly as much wealth as the royal family. No shock there though. They obviously had more than enough for a comfortable life.
Interestingly, most of the intricate work seen in the Winter Palace was only imitated in the Yusupov palace. Much of the work was painted or made from lower-quality materials.
It was still pretty exquisite, however. The following three photos are from the blue, red, and green rooms.