The Hermitage Museum is the hallmark of St. Petersburg. If you stand before each exhibit for a minute, you will have to spend more than 10 years in the museum, as there’re more than three million exhibits.
Halls and funds of the museum store pieces of art and precious historical objects of various eras, since antiquity. The Hermitage buildings are also the imperial heritage – the magnificent interiors remind that they were designed in czarist days. Gilding, marble, stucco molding and crystal chandeliers really impress and blow one’s mind!
The Winter Palace is a place where all Russian monarchs from Catherine II to Nicholas II lived. You will need strength and endurance to see at least some part of the museum’s expositions, so plan out your visit in advance and, of course, have a good meal before an excursion!:)
A little bit of sunny Italy in a cloudy St. Petersburg
The Raphael loggias in Vatican captivated the empress Ekaterina imagination and she decided to create an exact copy of them in the Palace complex of St. Petersburg.
The architect Giacomo Quarenghi built the gallery, and the artists of the workshop, led by Christopher Unterperger, went to Vatican to create copies of the paintings. The works went on for 11 years, copies were made with tempera on canvas, but externally looked exactly like murals.
Rhythmically alternating semicircular arches divide the ceiling into rectangular parts of equal length, each of which contains murals on biblical themes. There are 52 scenes from the Old and New Testament, from the Creation of the World to the Last Supper. These murals are often called the Bible of Raphael. The artisans carefully repeated wall ornaments - grotesques with an endless variety of elegant motifs.
So, Ekaterinas's dream to be closer to European culture gave the Hermitage not just a picture, but a whole gallery of murals. Room 227
Cats in Hermitage
In the Hermitage Museum, a large number of unique exhibits (about 3 million). So that small rodents do not spoil masterpieces, cats walk around the rooms and catch pests.
The history of the "public service" of cats begins in the 18th century, when Tsar Peter I placed a huge cat in the Winter Palace, which he brought from Holland himself. Later, on the orders of Empress Elizabeth, who was very afraid of rats, a consignment of cats- ratcatchers from Kazan was brought to the old palace.
The Hermitage cats survived the revolution, continuing to serve in the museum and under the new Soviet regime. But they could not survive the blockade. Then, all the cats were eaten, and the city was flooded with rats. Immediately after the end of the blockade, two carriages of cats were delivered to Leningrad from the central regions of the country.
Today, more than 50 cats serve in the museum. Each of the tail guards has their own passport with a photograph, certifying their high qualifications. They are loved, fed, treated and their conscientious work is very appreciated. The museum staff knows all the cats personally, and chooses the nicknames for each kitty according to its character.
In the cellars of the Hermitage there is a “cat's house”: for a decent maintenance of museum cats, a separate section is set aside with space for storing food and an infirmary to nurse cats if they feel sick.
Near the museum, there are portable road signs “Beware, cats!” calling for drivers to be attentive and slow down. After all, road accidents are most often cause of the death of little museum keepers.
The State Hermitage holds an annual “Hermitage Cat Day” in spring (until 2012, the holiday was called the “Day of the March Cat in the Hermitage”).
Since 2011, the holiday has been included in the official calendar of festive and memorable dates of the museum. In addition to honoring cats, the festival introduces children to art. Usually the holiday is held in April or early May.