The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia – The Winter Palace
Overwhelming is the word of the day. I took about 90 photos during the afternoon visit to the Hermitage Museum, located in the Winter Palace. That is obviously way too many pictures to display in a single post. Therefore, I am going to split up the photos into four groups and post them on four different days.
Today, I want to give you a taste for the location and the building. Subsequent posts will cover paintings, statues, court dress, and doors (for my weekly Thursday Doors post).
We will start today’s post with some pictures of the Palace Square including the Baroque Winter Palace itself on the northern side.
On the eastern side you will see a building that housed the former Royal Guards:
And on the southern side you will see the General Staff building (like the Pentagon in Washington, DC) designed by the Italian Architect Carlo Rossi and built between 1819 and 1829.
In the center of the square is the famous Alexander Column, named after Emperor Alexander I, who defeated Napoleon in the winter of 1812 when the French army ran out of food for themselves and fodder for their horses.
Here is a quote from Wikipedia:
“The column is a single piece of red granite, 25.45 m (83 ft 6 in) long and about 3.5 m (11 ft 5 in) in diameter. The granite monolith was obtained from Virolahti, Finland and in 1832 transported by sea to Saint Petersburg, on a barge specially designed for this purpose, where it underwent further working. Without the aid of modern cranes and engineering machines, the column, weighing 600 tonnes (661 tons) on 30 August 1832 was erected by 3,000 men under the guidance of William Handyside in less than 2 hours. It is set so neatly that no attachment to the base is needed and it is fixed in position by its own weight alone”
Our travel guide said that for a long time, people of St. Petersburg were hesitant to be near the column, thinking it might topple over on them. It has stood through earth quakes without falling, so there really was no need to worry.
From the square, we moved to the main entrance on the north side of the palace. We saw a wonderful street entertainer on the sidewalk as we walked along the western side of the palace:
Here is a view of the western entrance:
And here is a view looking east from just outside of the front entrance:
Once inside, we were immediately treated with a view of the ornate Ambassador’s Staircase:
Next we have a very ornate chandelier in the center of a room filled with paintings of the great generals of the Russian Army.
I will slip in one painting ahead of my post on paintings, just for context:
I also loved the architectural details of the room:
From here we were led into the Emperor’s throne room that I used as the featured image for this post:
Here is a close up of the throne:
Notice the double headed eagle on the throne. This is usually associated with an empire, like the Roman/Byzantine empire. It was adopted in Russia with the marriage of Ivan III to the niece of the last Byzantine Emperor. It was the main element in the coat of arms of the Russian Empire from 1721 to 1917.
Finally, I will leave you with a few photos of hallways, and arches to give you a better flavor for the architecture of the building interior:
And here is a picture of my wife, Alice, standing in front of a giant urn in the middle of a beautiful gallery of paintings:
I will leave this post with a picture of the stairway used by special guests to be presented in the ballroom on the second floor:
Hopefully, this will give you some context for my posts about the paintings and sculptures, period costumes, and doors that will soon follow.