Someone has calculated that it would take eight years to go around the Hermitage with spending only one minute on the examination of each exhibit. So, when going for a new aesthetic experiences in one of the most famous museums in the country, one should have enough time and be in an appropriate mood. The main museum of the Hermitage is a complex of five buildings constructed at different times by different architects for different purposes, and sequentially connected with each other (particularly well this can be seen from the spit of Vasilyevsky island): the Winter Palace (the creation of Bartholomew Rastrelli that was build by order of Empress Elizabeth) followed by the Small Hermitage, then Suite rooms of the Old Hermitage (the former living quarters of the Imperial family) that flows smoothly into the New Hermitage building (designed by the European architect Leo von Klenze to accommodate rapidly growing museum collection) and the Hermitage theatre. So here is our optimal list of the Hermitage must see exhibits and sites.
The Jordan Staircase
The Jordan Staircase.
Classic guided tour of the Main Hermitage Museum begins with the Jordan staircase, or, as it is commonly called, the Embassy staircase (the emperors’ noble guests and ambassadors of foreign powers passed this very stairs when coming to the Palace). After white-and-gold marble stairs the road forks: further goes the enfilade of gala rooms and on the left there is a Field marshals ‘ hall. The staterooms stretching along the Neva River seem to be quite deserted and nowadays are used for temporary exhibitions. To the left begins the second suite of staterooms resting in the Throne room, which looks quite modest in contrast with the Grand staircase.
“Artistic decoration of the Russian interior of XIX – beginning of XX centuries”, the exposition.
If you go through the enfilade of gala rooms along the Neva River, you will soon find yourself in bedrooms with living interiors. Here you will discover strictly classical interiors, lounges, decorated in the style of historicism, pieces of intricate furniture and the wooden gothic two-level library of Nicholas II with vintage tomes, that can easily immerse you into the atmosphere of the middle ages.
Terbenev (Front) staircase and portico with Atlantes.
The Grand staircase of the New Hermitage rises from the historic entrance to the museum from Millionnaya street. It’s porch is decorated with ten atlantes statues made of grey granite. Atlantes were carved under the direction of Russian sculpture Terebenev, hence the second name of the stairs. That porch started the route of the first visitors of the Museum (until the mid twenties of the last century). By tradition ‒ for good luck and in order to return here ‒ you need to rub the heel of any of the Atlantes.
To be continued…