The State Hermitage

The State Hermitage Museum (Государственный Эрмитаж; official web site has to be the best museum in the world and at 233,345 square meters it has to be the largest. The main museum complex on the banks of the Neva is spread across three buildings: The Winter Palace, The Small Hermitage and The New Hermitage/Old Big Hermitage. To call it merely a “museum” is perhaps a mistake as the buildings also preserve state rooms and apartments.j

Visiting The Hermitage

Entrance Hall

The Hermitage is vast and it is worth doing a bit of investigation before you visit otherwise it is likely you will be distracted from something that you simply “cannot miss”. The map itself is quite overwhelming…The web site is a great source of information though including information about all of it's exhibits.

Grand Staircase

Tickets are available in advance online but also at the door. Tour groups are allowed in first to the museum and it is not uncommon for the entrance queue to wrap around the block into the nearby Palace Square. Once inside there are cloak rooms (for a fee) and toilets. There are security checks at the entrance and automated ticket gates.


If you are not on a tour it is worth picking up an audio guide.

What to See

A museum the size of the Hermitage is overwhelming to say the least so it is good to perhaps think of a few “must see” items. During my visit we enjoyed the “Peacock Clock” which is a large automaton featuring three life-sized mechanical birds built in the 18th century and acquired by Catherine the Great. There are occasional demonstrations of the clock in action though even static it is absolutely stunning.

Peacock Clock

In the same room as the clock there are tables featuring amazing stone inlays that are work taking a closer look at.


The “Carnival Sleigh with the Figurine of St George” is in a room overlooking Palace Square.


On entering the museum, the first room you enter is the throne room (“Small Throne Room of the Winter Palace”, or the “Peter the Great Memorial Hall”).

Throne Room

In one of the rooms near to the exit is the “Rotunda” which is a circular passage room connecting the state rooms to the private apartments dominated by a model of the Triumphal Column that Peter the Great proposed to have set up on one of the squares in Saint Petersburg.


Of course, the museum itself is a joy to behold beyond the art it contains. It is worth stopping and looking around you to take it all in.

White Room