Winter Palace of St. Petersburg is a unique architectural monument representing Russian baroque style. It was built in 1754-1762 by Italian architect Bartalameo Rastrelli.
The Winter Palace was rebuilt several times. The biggest reconstruction took place in 1837 after a fire which destroyed most of the rooms of the palace and damaged the exterior. The fire started due to the construction mistakes in the Small Throne room. The stove in that hall caused the fire. The original look of the palace was returned while halls and rooms were rebuilt in the late classical style.
The Palace had been a winter residence of Russian emperors till 1917, from July till November of 1917 it had served as headquarters of the Russian Provisional Government. And in 1918-1922 the building was given to the State Hermitage Museum. Winter Palace overlooks the Palace Square. All in all there are about 1000 rooms in the Palace.
The Hermitage Museum started as a collection of paintings, which were purchased privately by Catherine the Great, but in 1852 it was opened to the public.
The modern museum occupies six big buildings which are locted along the Neva embankment in the center of the city. The main part of the museum is housed in the Winter Palace.
Today the Museum has one of the biggest collections of art in the world which represents pieces of art, items and monuments of world culture, starting from the Stone Age till our days.
The collections of the Hermitage St. Petersburg include the following: West-European art, Ancient art, Primitive culture, Oriental art, Russian art and collections of coins and medals.
The Hermitage St. Petersburg museum is also famous for its Treasure Gallery which accumulates collections of jewelry and valuables. The Gold Rooms of the Gallery have items from Eurasia and Black Sea area including greek and scythian gold. The Diamond Rooms show the development of jewelers' craft over the centuries.
Interesting facts about the Hermitage St. Petersburg:
1. After that terrible fire of 1837 the system of central heating was introduced in the Winter Palace in order to prevent fires and obtain more efficient heating. The new hot-air stoves were located on the ground floor. The air was going through the stoves and then up along the pipes and canals in the walls to the rooms of the palace. The system was developed by the Russian engineer N. A. Amosov. Nowadays we see metals grids, which were a part of the heating system, on the floor in many rooms of the Winter palace.
2. It took only 15 months to reconstruct the palace completely after the fire of 1837.
3. At the end of the 19th century the emperor Nicholas II allowed free entrance to the museum as the royal family moved to Tsarskoye Selo, which became their permanent residence till 1917.
4. According to the protocol the servants were not allowed into the state rooms of the Winter Palace. In order to move around the palace they used special passages inside the walls.
5. There are about 50 cats employed in the State Hermitage. Their main responsibility is to protect the items from rats and mice. Each cat has its own passport with a picture.
6. In order to become a licensed guide in the museum, one should finish special courses, which cost about 23000 RUB (489 EUR) and pass strict exams.
Address of the Hermitage St. Petersburg: 2, Palace Square, St. Petersburg, Russia.
Opening hours of the Hermitage museum: daily from 10:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. On Sundays the museum is opened till 5:00 p.m.
Closed: on Monday
The museum closes at 5.00 pm on holidays and preceding days.
Timetable is subject to change without prior notice.
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