St. Petersburg: The Hermitage Museum
The Hermitage Museum epitomizes Russia’s love affair with art and culture. This is the home to the largest collection of paintings in the world. The total number of pieces kept by the museum tallies to somewhere around 3 million. Naturally, only a small portion of the collection can be displayed at any given time. Today, tours of the Hermitage are typically longer than 3 hours and incredibly popular. Visitors might see exhibitions in any of several buildings: the Small Hermitage, the original home of the collection; the Great or Old Hermitage, its first great extension; the New Hermitage, which along with the Old opened in 1852; and the many exhibition halls in the Winter Palace, including the Malachite and Great Nicholas rooms (the latter a former ballroom). Additionally, there is the Palladian-style Hermitage Theater, held in a state close to that in which Catherine commanded performances. There are a few tricks to getting in around the long lines, but the best bet is to see the collection on a guided tour, particularly one arranged by our travel specialists.