Day 26 March 12th 2017 St Petersburg
Whirling eyes, tired soggy brain, throbbing feet, walked off legs but what a day!
We travelled from the excessive opulence of the past to the new young modern Russia with entrepreneurs and artists.
The day began with an extraordinary tour of the Hermitage – its immense size and number of exhibits. It is said to be the oldest museums in the world. Catherine the Great began a small private collection around 1754 and it was opened to the public and expanded in 1852.
From the entrance via the grand staircase to the exit through the Malachite room the visit is a feast of art, opulence, gold on gold, exquisite wood work, the glorious excesses of the epochs of the Czars.
There are apparently around 3 million objects in the museum and then there is the building itself. I believe this justifies the feeling of complete brain and body fade after 3 glorious hours.
This was another day we revelled in winter travel – the Hermitage has over 3million visitors a year yet we had relatively free and comfortable access. One minor reminder of crowds when viewing one of the Rembrandt paintings. Suddenly found myself pushed to the left and right, elbowed out of the way. A tree of mobile phones were thrust in front of me and everyone else quietly observing. Snap. Snap. Snap. And then a whirlwind departing.
The three non-stop hours went by in a heart-beat. Our highlights –
The initial impact of the Grand Staircase and ballroom a swirling mass of gold and marble.
The Three Graces a beautiful statue by Antonio Canova, said to be a version of one held in Victoria and Albert in the UK.
Wooden parquetry the likes of which I have never seen before. In one room the wood parquetry on the floor matched the pattern on the roof.
Malacite on columns, urns and ornaments. All the more incredible when you realise it is not a stone but more pieced together like a mosaic.
Golden Peacock Clock – a masterpiece of gold and mechanics – see the video above
Library of Nicholas II – possible to be recreated at home!!! A beautiful and large personal library
Small dining room particularly its political importance as the room in 1917 where the government ministers were arrested.
At the end of all this we were tired but a quick bite to eat in one of the Cafes and we were ready to shift gears and start again.