The State Hermitage Museum is one of the largest and most famous art museums in the world. The museum occupies five buildings on the bank of the river Neva: the Winter Palace, the Small Hermitage, the Big Hermitage, the New Hermitage, the Hermitage Theatre. Some collections are also on display in the branches of the Hermitage museum: in the Menshikov Palace on Vasilevsky Island, in the premises of the General Staff Building, located on the Palace Square and in the recently constructed Staraya Derevnia Restoration and Storage Center.
The Winter Palace, designed by Bartolomeo Rastrelli in the middle of the XVIII century, is one of the most beautiful parts of the Hermitage. This luxury baroque palace was the residence of Russian emperors, from Catherine II to the last Russian Tsar Nicholas II. Empress Catherine II, who was a great connoisseur of arts, laid the foundation for the modern-day museum collection.
1764 is considered to be the year of the foundation of the Hermitage collection, when Catherine II purchased in Berlin a collection of 225 paintings, mainly the works of Dutch and Flemish schools. A significant number of paintings was housed in the apartments of the palace, called "The Hermitage" (in French «ermitage» means “a place of solitude”), later the name was transferred to the whole art gallery.
In subsequent years took place the constant completion of the collections and now the Hermitage consists of eight departments:
The exhibitions of the museum occupy more than 350 rooms, which are visited by 3.5 million people annually.
Opening hours: 10:30 to 18:00. Wednesday: 10:30 to 21:00, closed Mondays