You are preparing your trip to St. Petersburg and you have certainly heard about the Hermitage Museum. No wonder: it is one of the greatest museums in the world! Nearly 3 million works are displayed there. Beyond art, the Hermitage Museum is also interesting as a old residence of the tsars.
This place is considered by many visitors as one of the must-see places in St. Petersburg. I agree with this opinion. In this article, I would like to share with you some key points about the Hermitage Museum. Then, I will give you practical information to better organize your visit to the museum.
The Hermitage Museum: Between History and Art
It was by Catherine II that the Hermitage Museum was founded. It was she who decided in 1764 to house the various art collections she bought from all over Europe. Nevertheless, before that date, the place was first of all the winter residence of the Russian tsars: the Winter Palace. Indeed, it is the oldest building. Built by the Italian architect Rastrelli in 1754, the Baroque of the Winter Palace is one of the symbols of St Petersburg.
Here is a nice documentary on the Hermitage Museum that I found on Youtube. It will certainly make you want to discover the treasures of this place even more. There is also this Wikipedia page dedicated to the Hermitage Museum, where you can learn all the details.
Some key numbers
- Nearly 250,000 m² of surface area, including 66,000 m² dedicated to the exhibition of works
- More than 700,000 archaeological objects
- 17,000 paintings and nearly 13,000 sculptures
- More than 1 million numismatic works (coins, medals)
What to see in Hermitage Museum
You can find everything you want! Paintings from France, Italy, Flanders. Works from Egypt, Ancient Greece, Japan or the East. As with the Louvre Museum, it would take several days to see all the museum’s collections (according to some calculations, more than 8 years!).
Fra Angelico’s Virgin and Child, Madonna Litta by Leonardo da Vinci, The Dance of Matisse, The Deplorable Christ of Veronese, The Lute Player of Caravaggio, Monnet’s Poppy Fields, Van Gogh’s Cottages, Rembrandt’s Prodigal Son’s Return, The Snyders Fish Market.
In my opinion, the collections of French (one of the most important collections) and Italian art, as well as modern art (notably Kandinsky) are the most interesting. Moreover, if you want to see something more original, I would recommend the room dedicated to Scythian culture.
The museum site is very well done (it only exists under the Russian and English versions), you can see all the collections on this link.
The most remarkable pieces of art of the Hermitage Museum
Here are the most remarkable halls and rooms:
- Jourdain staircase
- The Pavilion room
- Raphael’s lodges
- Small italian skylight room
- The 1812 War Gallery
Visit to the Hermitage Museum: Practical Information
The Hermitage Museum is located in the heart of the historic centre of St Petersburg. One of the two main façades of the museum looks out over the Neva and the Peter and Paul Fortress, the other overlooks the Palace Square. In addition, Nevsky Avenue, the city’s main artery, leads to it. So there is no doubt, you will find the museum easily.
Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday: open from 10:30 to 18:00;
Wednesday, Friday: from 10:30 to 21:00;
Closed on Mondays, May 1 and 9;
Days to avoid and peaks of traffic
In the high season, from May to September, Tuesday is the day when visitors are most numerous, especially groups. There are two reasons. This is the day after the closing day (Monday). On Tuesdays, the Russian Museum and Catherine’s Palace are closed.
The best days for the visit are Thursday or Wednesday afternoon. Overall, the attendance drops after 4pm. Indeed, groups that are in St. Petersburg on an organized trip come to visit the museum in the morning or, at least, during the day. You can check the peak hours on this link .
Admission tickets to the Hermitage Museum
Admission fees, once on site:
- 700 rubles (~8 pounds) for the Hermitage Museum, as well as for the other annexes that depend on it: the General Staff building, the Peter I Winter Palace, Menchikov Palace and the Imperial Porcelain Factory Museum. 600 rubles (~7 pounds) – in low season (from 01/10 to 30/04);
- Free on the first Thursday of each month and on December 7 (considered as the day when the museum was founded);
- Free for students and under people under 18 (confirmation documents have to be presented) via the on-site cash registers only;
Where and how to buy tickets?
There are many ways to buy tickets. The Hermitage Museum is not part of the St. Petersburg city pass.
At the museum checkouts (on-site)
The checkouts close 1 hour before the museum closes. They are located inside the museum. To access it, you must go through the inner courtyard whose entrance is located on the Palace Square.
The advantages of this solution: admission will be free for students or those under 18 years of age, provided proof is provided.
The disadvantages of this solution: waiting times that may be longer than one hour. Besides, you wait outside.
Via automatic machines (on-site)
Still in the same inner courtyard, you will find on your left hand side automatic machines (in English or Russian) where you can buy entrance tickets. Once the tickets are in hand, head straight for the entrance, passing the queue.
The advantages of this solution: The waiting time is less than at the museum’s traditional cash registers.
The disadvantages of this solution: You cannot benefit from free tickets (students, under 18 years old) for which you will have to wait in queue at the cash registers.
Skipping the queue with a private guide (organized before going on-site)
Our local partner, a local agency, offers guided tours of the city of St. Petersburg, as well as excursions with a qualified private guide. Contact me on e-mail and I will give you the agency detail.
The advantages of this solution: No waiting; accompaniment by a private French-speaking guide who will share with you his knowledge of the museum and St. Petersburg.
The disadvantages of this solution: More expensive, of course, than the ticket alone.
On the Hermitage Museum website (organized before going on-site)
The tickets can be bought directly via the Hermitage Museum website.
The advantages of this solution: Very little waiting time.
The disadvantages of this solution: As with automatic machines, you cannot benefit from free admission (students, under 18 years old). Of course, you can indicate the number of beneficiaries, but it will always be necessary to wait to collect the free ticket at the entrance.
Good to know!
- Online entrance ticket prices are lower on the Russian website than on the English website;
- Admission with tickets purchased online is not via the museum’s inner courtyard. Here is the map showing where the entrance with the e-bills is located;