I have no idea where to begin with my comments regarding the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. Upon arrival at the grand Dvortsovaya Ploshchad, Palace Square, you are immediately transported to another era. The green and white Baroque exterior of the Hermitage greets you on one side of the Alexander column, while the former Imperial Army general guard more classical yellow and white buildings adorn the other side. The square is huge and grand.
Since we had been to the Hermitage back in 2001 on our first visit to Russia, I was a bit ambivalent about spending time there given that we only had one day in the city. But Doug convinced me that this was THE HERMITAGE for goodness sake and that it would be a huge mistake to not go in. He was right! I had forgotten what opulence surrounds you upon entering the once winter palace of the Czars. For the first 45 minutes all you are doing is wandering around one amazing room after another. You actually forget that there is great art to be seen here! The throne rooms are fit for, well, a king! The floors also boasted incredible wood inlays. We had a wonderful time stumbling upon the grand room that houses the famous peacock clock. Quite by accident we also found the Knight's room, complete with real stuffed horses. The ceiling work was simply magnificent and it was easy to understand why Czarist Russia was a grand 'ol time for those with money and power.
We did eventually find our way to some of the great paintings of all time. The photographs distort the paintings due to light reflections. We especially enjoyed Rembrandt's Prodigal Son, the van Gogh's, Pisarro and Picasso. We ended up staying about 1.5 hours and enjoyed the splendor of every moment. The Hermitage is quite a place. I am very happy we returned and took it in once again.