[RUSSIA] St Petersburg Winter Palace

06:44 Travel Bunny 0 Comments

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St Petersburg is Russia’s second largest city after Moscow. However, it is unlike any other Russian city. Dominated by the Winter Palace which stretches for 200 meters along the river front, it was the capital of imperial Russia. Its Hermitage Museum housed in the Winter Palace is one of the world’s greatest and oldest collection of art, treasure, and antiques with over 3 million items in its collection. It is no surprise that it is a UNESCO World Heritage site.


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Needless to say, Winter Palace / Hermitage Museum is a must visit place in St. Petersburg. To avoid the crowd, I went there first thing in the morning to meet up with my tour guide, Igor at the Palace Square.


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Behind me is the General Staff Building. This neoclassical building is famous for its central triumph arch connecting Nevsky Prospekt and Palace Square. Completed in 1829, it used to house the office of the General Staff in East Wing and Tsarist Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Finance in West Wing before the Revolution. Now it is home to art collection of the impressionist and post-impressionist.


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The Alexander Column stands in the center of Palace Square.


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This red granite column is 47.5 meters tall and it is set so well that it requires no attachment to the base.


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The Winter Palace was commissioned by the Tsarina Elizabeth for use by the imperial family during the winter.


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Catherine the Great added the Hermitage in 1764 to house her private art collection, which has grown so large that it is housed in five beautiful buildings and is second only in size to that of the Louvre’s.


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Actually Alexander II was the last tsar to genuinely use the Winter Palace as his main residence. After his assassination in 1881, it became clear that the palace was too large to be properly secured. Nonetheless, the Winter Palace was still used for official ceremonies and receptions.


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The Winter Palace was declared part of the State Hermitage Museum on 17 October 1917.


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I entered the Winter Palace through this entrance.


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The museum opens from 10.30am to 6pm but the last admission is 5pm. It is closed on Monday.


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Big bags are not allowed in the museum. I have to go to the cloakroom downstairs to store my bag.


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Be sure to keep the number tag. You need it to claim your bag afterwards.


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With this, I started my tour inside the Hermitage Museum.


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We ascended the Jordan Staircase to first floor. The staircase was badly damaged by a fire that swept the palace in 1837. Nicholas I replaced the original gilt bronze handrails with white marble and the original pink columns with gray granite.


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‘Anselm Kiefer’ for Velimir Khlebnikov is an exhibition dedicated to a poet who changed the Russian language and predicted the October Revolution. According to the artist himself, Kiefer came across Khlebnikov’s work in the 1970s which he read in German translation.


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This is the Malachite Room. The columns, pilasters and mantelpieces are lined with malachite in the technique known as the “Russian mosaic”.


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This room shows the decoration of Russian interior in the 19th to 20th centuries.


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There are many rooms in Winter Palace displaying different interior.


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This is the Smoking Room which is different from other rooms. In the 1830s, Orientalisation became fashionable in interior decoration. Such interior were called Moorish because in creating them, the artists relied on works of Arabian art.


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Also notable is Nicholas II’s Library which is part of the last Emperor’s living quarters. It is one of the interior of the Winter Palace that has preserved its original decor.


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A Neo-classicism room (1900 – 1910).


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A vase with handles shaped as female figures (left) and arm chair of the President of the College of War and officer’s attires in 1760s (right).


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These permanent display focuses on the artistic, academic, social and political life in Russian Empire in the second half of the 18th century.


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These two large containers with intricate design are actually wine coolers.


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A ceremonial sledge on display behind me.


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This is the Golden Drawing Room, one of the most exquisite of Winter Palace interiors. The walls is completely gilded.


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The curtains and furniture upholstery used to be purple in colour. Although the room was redecorated twice, most of its original decor is preserved.


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A corridor filled with carpets hanging on the wall.


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The light is dimmed to preserve these antique carpets.


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This is the Triumphal Column in commemoration of the Russian victories in the Northern War.


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Field Marshall Room contains full length portraits of Russian Field Marshall.


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Motifs of military glory embellish the massive gilded bronze chandeliers and the paintings on the ceiling.


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Portrait of Catherine the Great.


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The Small Throne Room is dedicated to Peter the Great. The throne was actually constructed for the relatively insignificant Empress Anna Ioannovna in the early 1730s.


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The Armorial Hall was intended for balls and receptions.


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Representations of coats of arms and heraldic emblems of all the provinces of Russia attached to the bronze chandeliers gave the name to the hall.


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The Tsar’s private chapel.


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This is the War Gallery of 1812. Rows of portraits of Russian’s military commanders are displayed on the wall. This gallery celebrates Russia’s victory over Napoleon. The 13 empty frames represent those generals who were not available to sit in person and for whom no likeness could be found.


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Portrait of Tsar Alexandra I. He was the first Russian King of Poland and first Russian Grand Duke of Finland.


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Exiting the War Gallery, I’m now at St. George Hall. It is served as the principal throne room for the Russian Tsars.


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The wall coverings of deep red velvet behind the throne is embroidered with the Romanov eagle.


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The queue to buy tickets to enter the Winter Palace is long as seen from the first floor. I’m glad I engage a tour guide and reached here early.


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This is the Pavilion Hall. It houses the magnificent Peacock Clock as its centerpiece.


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On the floor of the Pavilion Hall, there is a 19th century copy of an ancient Roman mosaic featuring the head of Medusa encircled by nautical themes such as Neptune with his trident and imaginative sea creatures.


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The Peacock Clock is one of the most prominent exhibit in collections of Hermitage Museum. It is a large automation featuring three life sized mechanical birds. The birds still sing to this day.


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It is acquired by Catherine the Great in 1781.


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A TV screen introducing the details of the Peacock Clock.


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A mosaic table with Apollo and the Muses.


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An elaborate fountain in the Pavilion Hall.


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The so-called Hanging Garden of Small Hermitage in the Winter Palace as it is raised above ground level.


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Religious art piece in the Winter Palace.


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This is a painting of Madonna and Child with Flowers, a rare early work by the young Leornado da Vinci.


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This is Raphael Loggia. Catherine the Great was highly impressed by the frescoes created by Raphael for a loggia in the Vatican Palace. Since the loggia itself could not be purchased, Catherine decided to have the entire space copied.


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It’s a famous corridor in Winter Palace so it can be swamped by group of tourists at times. But wait for a moment and it’ll be cleared for a nice photo shoot.


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One of the galleries devoted to West European art. The collection is massive.


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The Crouching Boy (early 1530s) in Room 203 is the only piece by Michaelangelo which is displayed in the Hermitage.


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This gallery contains the statue collection.


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Moving to ground floor, there’s also lots of marble statues.


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This is the Jupiter Hall adorned with marble statues.


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This is the statue of Zeus. Many of the statues are Roman copies of Greek originals.


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There are many antique collections in Winter Palace including Assyrian, Mesopotamian and Egyptian. This is the Egyptian section.


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There is even a mummy where you can see up close in the Egyptian section.


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To be honest, after seeing the artifacts in Egyptian Museum, the ‘wow’ factor was not really there for me.


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Cafe in the Winter Palace.



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The atlantes holding the ceiling at head level as seen from inside of the Hermitage museum.


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The portico at the entrance of New Hermitage museum are supported by ten atlantes carved from dark grey granite in the workshop of Alexander Terebenev.


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Alexander Terebenev needed 150 assistants to complete this task.


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The sculptor himself worked on the faces while his assistants were assigned specific parts of the figures.


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Back to the Great Courtyard.


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There are actually ticketing machine in the courtyard where you can buy the entrance ticket to Winter Palace. The queue is usually shorter. My tickets were bought by tour guide in advance and I reimbursed him in person that day.


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Tourist taking photo with ladies dressed in court dress in front of Winter Palace. You have to tip them of course.


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Winter Palace is definitely the highlight of my stay in St. Petersburg. Next, I’m off to another famous attraction in St. Petersburg, Peterhof Palace and garden.


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