WINTER PALACE (STATE HERMITAGE MUSEUM)

Address: 34, Dvortsovaya Nab. (Palace Embankment)
Day off: Monday
WINTER PALACE (STATE HERMITAGE MUSEUM)

The Winter Palace, the main residence of the Russian Emperors, was built to a project by Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli in 1754-1762 in the Baroque style. The main facade of the palace overlooks Palace square; its central section, with three entrance arches, just out in steps, which lends a special majesty to the palace.

Today the Main Entrance Gate serves as the main entrance to the State Hermitage. The entrance to the museum from the Palace Embankment in the centre of the northern front leads to the Main (Jordan) Staircase, from which two principal suites of rooms – the Great State Enfilade and the Neva Enfilade – begin.

The inner décor of the Winter Palace was completely destroyed by a terrible fire in 1837. Restoration was carried out in 1837-1839 under the supervision of the great architects Vasily Stasov and Alexander Briullov. The main halls of the palace have preserved the interiors created by them to this day.

In 1922, by the decision of the Bolshevik government, the Winter Palace was converted into the State Hermitage Museum, and its halls and rooms were used to arrange displays of exhibits. The museum complex contains, besides the Winter Palace, the other Hermitage buildings erected in different periods: the Small Hermitage (1764-1775, architect Yury Velten, Jean-Baptiste Vallin de la Mothe), the Old Hermitate (1771-1787, architect Yury Velten), the Hermitage Theatre (1783-1789, architect Qiacomo Quarenghi) and the New Hermitage (1842-1851, architect Leo von Klenze, with Vasily Stasov and Nikolay Yefimov). All the buildings are connected by covered passages on the first floor. The museum also owns the left wing of the General Staff building and the Menshikov Palace on the University Embankment of Vasilyevsky Island.

The Hermitage is the world-known treasury of art, the largest art museum of Russia and one of the most famous museums in the world. The Hermitage is taken to be founded in 1764 when Empress Catherine the Great acquired a large collection of paintings by Western European artists.

The portico on the New Hermitage with the famous figures of Atlantes executed of Serdobolye granite (sculptor Alexander Terebenev, 1840s) and the Hermitage bridge across the Winter Canal enjoy an especial popularity with guests of Saint-Petersburg.