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Hermitage Museum

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The State Hermitage Museum of St Petersburg is the second-largest art museum in the world. Founded by Catherine the Great, with its main entrance in the former Winter Palace, the museum owns over 1 million works of art including paintings by Raphael, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Picasso. A must-see for any art lover, it’s recommended that visitors take a guided tour so they don’t miss anything in this vast museum complex.
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4 Tips for Visiting the Hermitage Museum

Hermitage Museum Reflection | Flickr: Syuqor7 CC BY-ND 2.0
1
Be prepared for walkingThe museum complex is extremely large and visitors will need to do a lot of walking, so it’s advised that you wear comfortable shoes!
Hermitage Museum | Flickr: Chris CC-BY 2.0
2
Avoid massesThe Hermitage Museum is one of the most popular attractions in St. Petersburg, receiving roughly 4.2 million visitors a year, or 14,000 per day. It’s also closed on Mondays, so expect the number of visitors to be high whichever day of the week you visit. It will be slightly less crowded just after it opens in the morning, so try to arrive earlier in the day. If it’s possible to time your visit to avoid weekends, days with free entry, and the summer holidays between June and August, you’ll also have a better chance at avoiding the most crowded days. On Wednesdays and Fridays, the museum is also open late, and the crowds generally begin to subside around 4 pm.
3
Skip the lines with tickets booked onlineGuests with online tickets should enter via a separate entry in the inner courtyard, which means they’ll skip the long lines at the main entrance. There are also ticket machines in the courtyard where you can pay for entry tickets with a credit card.
4
Plan your visitThe main attractions and most famous artworks of the Hermitage tend to get the most crowds, especially when there are several group tours happening at once. Don’t forget that there are also quieter areas of the museum complex which are also worth a visit, such as the collections of egyptian and classical antiquities. If you have the time, then it’s also highly recommended that you spread your visit to the museum over two days, so that you can see all the collections in depth.
Hermitage St. Petersburg | Flickr: Brent Ozar CC BY-SA 2.0

Sights in the Hermitage St. Petersburg

In addition to works by Rembrandt, Raphael, Degas and Da Vinci, there are also parts of the treasures of the Imperial Russian court, the Tsar's gold and the Tsar's throne to admire.
La Danse, Henri Matisse | Ulmon CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Huge collection of artworks

With nearly three million exhibits, the Hermitage collection covers almost all periods of classical European art history. Six buildings (Winter Palace, Great and Small Hermitage, New Hermitage, Menshikov Palace and Hermitage Theater) now house the vast collection of artworks and archaeological finds collected by Tsarina Catherine II. The collection of Spanish and Dutch art stands out in particular, as well as individual exhibits such as the Peacock Clock.

Picture gallery

The Hermitage Picture Gallery covers the periods from the Middle Ages to the 20th century, including paintings by Rubens, Rembrandt, Monet and Picasso.

Art collection of antiquity

Spread over several halls there are antique statues and ceramics, as well as artifacts from ancient Egypt, China and Japan.

Hall of Knights

Here are exhibited medieval weapons and knight's armor, which are a highlight especially for children.
Tsar's Throne | Ulmon: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

History of the Winter Palace

The Winter Palace was the main residence of the Russian Tsar family in Saint Petersburg.

Bartolomeo Rastrelli created with the building from the year 1754 a prime example of the Russian Baroque. By the way, the palace was not always blue-green on the outside, the color has changed again and again over the centuries and is also the subject of current discussions. After the October Revolution, the Winter Palace became part of the neighboring Hermitage Museum. The building was last renovated in 2005. Inside there are magnificently designed rooms such as the Malachite Hall, where personal items of the tsar's family are exhibited.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I take a guided tour?

A tour with an experienced guide is rarely a waste of money if you want to learn as much as possible about the historical background of the artworks on display. However, since there can be congestion as a result of larger tour groups, it might be best to visit the highlights on your own and then take a guided tour through some of the less well-known parts of the collection. The sheer number of exhibits to explore will mean you probably won’t be able to see everything in a single day, so it’s advised that, if you’re visiting without a guide, you should research the parts of the collection that interest you the most and plan your route accordingly. Of course, if you just want the highlights and an overview, then you can book a guided tour and be confident that they’ll show you the most interesting things to see. Read more.

How long does it take to visit the Hermitage Museum?

Since there’s so much to see inside the Hermitage Museum complex, even in the Winter Palace exhibitions alone, you can easily spend a whole day or many days discovering everything. Guided tours usually take around 4 hours and move at a brisk pace through a range of exhibits. Art lovers will probably want to take more time than that, but you’ll want to prioritize the works you want to see in order to make the most of your ticket. If you’re visiting with a family, especially with small children, you’ll probably want to plan a whole day with plenty of short stops so that the children don’t get overtired. Read more.

What’s there to see in the second largest museum in the world?

Next to works by Rembrandt, Raphael, Degas, and Leonardo da Vinci, you’ll find pieces from the Imperial Russian court, including thrones and other items from the treasury of the Tsars. The Hermitage Museum’s collection is vast, and its almost 3 million objects and artifacts cover almost all eras of European art history, in addition to art from Asia, Africa, and South America. The collection of art and archaeological pieces which was founded by Catherine the Great is housed in 5 buildings: the Winter Palace, the Great (or Old) Hermitage, the Small Hermitage, the New Hermitage, and the Hermitage Theater. Particular highlights include the collections of Spanish and Dutch art, as well as some individual pieces such as the 18th-century Peacock Clock. Read more.

What’s the story behind the Winter Palace?

The Winter Palace, one of the buildings housing the Hermitage, is full of history! It was the main residence of the Russian Imperial family when they were in St. Petersburg. It was designed by Bartolomeo Rastrelli, among others, in 1754 and its style later became known as Elizabethan Baroque after Empress Elizabeth. The palace wasn’t always painted in its iconic pale green color, it began life yellow and was even once a dull red. The color is a matter for debate, as the green used was the standard color the Soviets used for Baroque buildings and might not be considered representative of how the building was intended to look. After the October Revolution, the Winter Palace became a part of the neighboring museums of the Hermitage, and the building was most recently renovated in 2005. Inside are opulent rooms and chambers, such as the Malachite Drawing Room, where visitors can view the personal belongings of the Imperial family. Read more.

General Information

Opening Hours:

The museum is open daily except Mondays from 11 AM. Closing times are 9 PM on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 7 PM on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. Special exhibitions may open later, please take into account when booking tickets.

Tickets:

⚠️ Currently, tickets to the Hermitage cost 500 RUB with pre-determined route and time slot because of the Covid 19 pandemic. Admission is free for children and students. On every third Thursday of the month and on December 7, admission is free for all guests.

Covid-19 measures:

⚠️At present, the following measures are taken against the coronavirus:
  • Wearing a mouth-nose protection is mandatory when visiting the museum
  • Tickets are issued only for fixed time slots and fixed routes

Address:

The State Hermitage Museum
Russia, 190000
St Petersburg
Dvortsovaya Naberezhnaya 34

How to get there:

The main museum complex can be reached by metro (line 5 to Admiralteyskaya, line 2 to Nevsky Prospekt, or line 3 to Gostiny Dvor), bus (numbers 7, 10, 24, or 191), or by trolleybus (numbers 1, 7, 10, or 11).
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