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The Winter Palace and the Hermitage Museum

St George's Hall in the Winter Palace © Painting by Constantine Ukhtomsky
St George's Hall in the Winter Palace © Painting by Constantine Ukhtomsky

The magnificent green, white and gold Winter Palace is superbly situated on the banks of the Neva River, a 656 foot-long (200m) Russian Baroque building that is the biggest and most lavishly decorated palace in the city. The palace was the official residence of the tsars, and Catherine the Great later added the Small and Large Hermitages onto the palace as a sanctuary for herself and her private art collection.

The Hermitage Museum comprises a stately complex of buildings strung along the embankment, with the Winter Palace at its heart. The Hermitage Museum is one of the world's greatest art museums, with a collection that has grown from the paintings of Catherine the Great in 1764 to a collection of more than three million exhibits. This vast collection is housed within the sumptuous splendour of one of the most luxurious palaces in the world. The three floors cover a full range of world art from ancient times, to Russian works and 20th-century European examples, as well as a fabulous collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, set against the rich interior of white marble staircases, golden ceilings, crystal chandeliers, and elaborate mosaics. Of the highlights, the lavish State Rooms, the Golden Rooms, containing a spectacular collection of royal jewels, gold and silver, and the modern European art section are the most popular.

Address: Dvortsovaya Square

Website: www.hermitagemuseum.org