Our second day of touring in St. Petersburg was visiting museums. Although, we started with a short trip on the metro. When Christian first mentioned that we should include a metro ride on our itinerary, I was skeptical and said that we could probably skip it! We didn’t & it was fascinating to see such beautiful & clean metro stations. I shouldn’t have expected anything less after visiting the churches the day before.
The Winter Palace was the main residence for the Russian Tsars. It was built (1754-1762) for Peter the Great’s daughter, Elizabeth. Elizabeth died before the palace was complete so she never got to use it. Peter III was the next in line to to the throne but he was overthrown by supporters of his wife, Catherine the Great. Catherine the Great became the next ruler and it was one of the most prosperous times of the Russian Empire. Catherine the Great loved art and started the collection which would the be basis for the Hermitage Museum. The Hermitage Museum is housed in the Winter Palace and four additional buildings, making it the largest museum in Russia and one of the largest in the world.
There are over three million exhibits in the Hermitage Museum but not only the art is worth seeing. The opulent rooms are worth the visit alone. Visitors enter the Winter Palace state rooms by the Jordan Staircase.
Peter the Great’s Memorial Throne Room.
The Pavilion Hall. Located in this hall is the famous Peacock Clock. This clock was made in London for Catherine the Great. It has tons of moving parts and makes music.
The Chapel in the Winter Palace.
We walked around for a couple hours, mostly touring the state rooms & looking at some of the art exhibits.
We were barely outside this day and it was again gray & rainy. Here is a view from the Hermitage to one of the many canals running through St. Petersburg.
Our next stop was supposed to be the General Staff Building, which is where the Impressionist painters works are displayed. But truthfully, after the time in the Hermitage it was almost too much to see more artwork in one day, at least for us! Instead, we had lunch in the General Staff Building and then decided to go to the Fabergé Museum. That wasn’t on our list & our guide didn’t have tickets or was able to provide a tour for us, but that was okay. We bought the tickets when we arrived & they have a great audio guide. This was one of the benefits with being in a private tour. We were able to change things up at the last minute!
I loved the Fabergé Museum! It is located in the Shuvalov Palace. This museum is fairly new, as is opened in 2013. It has nine of the Imperial Easter Eggs created by Fabergé for the last two Russian emperors (Alexander III & Nicholas II). Carl Fabergé (1846-1920) was the court jeweler to the Russian Tsars. American newspaper man, Malcolm Forbes collected the work of Fabergé & at his death, Russian entrepreneur Viktor Vekselberg purchased the items after deciding these belonged back in Russia & opened this museum almost ten years later after collecting more works by Fabergé & other Russian jewelers.
The Imperial Easter Eggs are located in the Blue Hall. Alexander III & Nicholas II commissioned these eggs from Fabergé for Easter presents for their wives and mothers. Fifty eggs were made between 1885 & 1917 and 43 have survived.
My favorite is the Lilies of the Valley Easter Egg. Nicholas II commissioned this egg for his wife, Alexandra in 1898. It is covered in pearls & diamonds and Alexandra’s favorite flower, lilies of the valley. The egg’s surprise is the portraits of Nicholas II & their two older daughters.
There was a guest lecturer on the ship a couple days later that talked more about the life and works of Fabergé. It was really interesting & it was a great addition to our visit to the museum.