It`s the dream of many visitors to St. Petersburg to wander about the interiors of the Hermitage State Museum. It`s one of the largest and the most outstanding museums of the world culture and art. It’s displays are housed in 400 rooms spread across an architectural complex of 5 buildings which was created over the course of same 100 years, from the second half of the 18th century to the middle of the 19th.
The oldest building is the Winter Palace erected between 1754 and 1762 by the architect Francesco Rastrelli. For a century and a half this majestic edifice in the exuberant Baroque style was an official residence of the Russian sovereigns.
The main staircase of the winter palace-the Jordan Staircase-was used most notably by the royal family at Epiphany when the traditional Russian Orthodox ceremony of the Blessing of the Waters performed on the bank of the Neva.
Adjoining the Winter Palace is the building of the Small Hermitage constructed to the design of Jean-Baptisto Vallin-de la Mothe.
Alongside the Small Hermitage stands of a whole complex of constructions added in different times: the Old or Large Hermitage, the Raphael Loggias block which is a copy of the gallery of the same name in the Vatican Palace in Rome, and the New Hermitage with splendid interior décor. All these buildings are connected by covered walkways so that to the visitor of one palace-museum. At the present time the Hermitage collection comprises more than 2,500,000 works of art including 15,000 paintings, over 12,000 sculptures, more than 600,000 drawings and engravings and about 1,000,000 coins and medals.
Thousands of people visit the Hermitage and admire its collections every year.
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