St. Petersburg--July 22, 2005--The Hermitage


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We spent this day touring the Hermitage, one of world's great art museums.  We walked over from the hotel and first encountered Palace Square (18-22).  The square fronts the Winter Palace, the official residence of the Imperial Family until the 1917 Revolution.  The square has been the scene of many famous events in Russian history including the 1905 Bloody Sunday massacre when troops fired on unarmed demonstrators who wanted reform by the Czar.  In 1917, Lenin's Bolsheviks attacked the Winter Palace from two sides of the building, launching the Revolution.  Today, the Square plays host to thousands of tourists who are there primarily to visit the Hermitage.


The Hermitage is housed in the Winter Palace and several additional buildings.  As the photos show (24-40), it is both a palace and a museum, containing hundreds of lavish rooms, all housing some of the great artworks of the world.  Surprisingly, one can wander around the museum, up very close to priceless paintings and sculpture in a setting lacking both the security and temperature controls common in American art museums. Highlights shown above include a Michelangelo sculpture (34), Leonardo painting (36) and many Impressionist paintings (40).  Particularly impressive was the Raphael Loggias, an almost exact duplicate of Raphael's frescoes in the Vatican (37-39).


After spending the afternoon in the museum, we had an early dinner at Ermitazhniy Restoran, an unusual restaurant in the Hermitage's General Staff Building on the Palace Square.  The place has about ten dining rooms, each unusual in decor and each designed for a certain clientele (tourists, VIPs, music lovers, etc).  Walking back to the hotel, we once again encountered St. Isaac's Cathedral (41) and the Admiralty (42) in the distance.  Our last photo of the day was of the monument to Czar Nicholas I (44) in St. Isaac's Square, across from the hotel.


During the day, we experienced three events that would be common in this part of Russia during our trip.  First, the city was subject to frequent but brief rainstorms coming in off the Gulf of Finland; second, it never got totally dark since we visited this northern venue in late July and third, because of all the rivers and canals in the city, the city is subject to quite a few mosquitoes, although the problem was not as bad as we expected.

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