A brief introduction.

When I was in Saint Petersburg roughly for just a weekend I decided that since it was first time for me here, it would have been better to skip the Hermitage museum. I knew it was so big that a visit would have required at least an entire day leaving this way almost no time to walk around the town that is usually my favourite way to explore places. This time, also considering bad weather with a very strong wind, visit of the museum become absolutely a must. I have no idea if I should expect queues for buying ticket but in order to do not waste time and especially not to wait outside in the wind I bought the online ticket yesterday evening and in spite of a worrying message “you will receive ticket within 24 hours” I got it immediately. So, now, after having breakfast, I’m ready to spend the entire day in one of the biggest and most beautiful museum in the world. Ladies and gentlemen, here it comes the Hermitage.

Planning the visit.

First problem in such a big museum is planning the visit defining how to manage different areas. My idea is to give priority to that kind of items that are not present in other museums I’ve seen in the past. Map of 2nd floorThis basically keeps out from the high priority list all the paintings. I see from the map that there a lot of French, Italian and Flemish works, other schools are also present but there isn’t almost anything Russian. Nothing new to me, then. Completely different story is for what it regards the archeological findings. Map of 3rd floorHere there are items from any part of empire, first Russian then Soviet, and also items collected during the work of Russian Archaeologists in Africa and Asia. My first goal is then visit the part about Caucasus, Central Asia, Siberian Antiquities and Eurasian Antiquities. But defining where to go, in the Hermitage is not enough. You should also find a way to go there because the museum is made of 4 different buildings: Winter Palace (the biggest one), Small Hermitage, New Hermitage, Old Hermitage plus the Hermitage Theatre. The visitor can move more or less freely among the three floors of the four buildings but since some area is closed can’t be taken for granted that you can move between two areas located on the same floor without passing through another floor.

Antiquities from the empire.

With some difficulties solved also thanks to the very helpful ladies working at the museum and crossing rooms with big boxes reminding of one of final scenes of Raiders of Lost Ark, Boxes in the Hermitage MuseumI’m finally on the ground floor of the Winter Palace hosting the sections I want to see. I’m not going to give you technical details about the findings I see because of course I would not be able. Mummified horseI go through collections of antiquities from old Siberia, a land that is almost unknown in the west. There are findings 3.000 years old, mummified bodies of men and horses. In the room about Altai culture there are steles like the one I’ve seen in other part of the worlds showing a common knowledge spread in a very wide area. Moving to the Caucasus heritage, there are mostly items from Armenia including Khachkars, the carved tombstone I saw once in Noratus graveyard. The amount of information I receive reading the signs is huge and I don’t know how much it will stay on my mind. SteleI learn something more about the Golden Horde that ruled a vast part of Russia in the middle age, about Volga Bulgaria that has nothing to do with the current country called Bulgaria apart very likely the root of the name that share also with the river Volga. Fresco from PenjikentBut the most beautiful section in this part of the museum in my opinion is the one about Penjikent a town today part of Tajikistan and that in middle age was very important and rich. In the museum there are huge part of walls with frescos and many other incredible findings. I spent already almost three hours in this area and I see maybe one eight of what Hermitage has to offer. But there is a good point I forgot to mention, today opening is extended until 21:00 so I have few hours more.

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