Hermitage and the great Hermitage museum

The large (or old) Hermitage building was built in 1771-1787 “in line with the Hermitage” according to the architect Yu.M. Felten, who used the foundations and walls of the old buildings that existed here since the early 18th century. Yuri Matveevich Felten studied architecture, first in Germany and then at the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. In particular, it has an outstanding project and leadership in the construction of a granite embankment on the left bank of the Neva, as well as an elegant one near the Summer Garden. In addition to the Old Hermitage, its churches of St. Anne on Kirochnaya Street, St. Catherine on Vasilievsky and Chesmenskaya Island, as well as several mansions in the center of St. Petersburg, have survived to this day. The facade of the building, facing the Neva River, is decorated in forms of early classicism.

The name is Old Hermitage, the building received in the 19th century, then it became a repository of art collections. The Old Hermitage building plays the role of an intermediate link between the lush Small Hermitage, the Winter Palace and, in the classical style, the Hermitage Theater. The Old Hermitage building is connected to the Hermitage Theater by an arch thrown over the Winter Channel. There is also a special passage from the building to the Little Hermitage.

Interesting facts:

  • The building was called Greater Hermitage because it was larger than the Mamy Mamy previously built.In the 19th century, the name Old Hermitage began to be used to designate a building complex to distinguish it from the New Hermitage, but this does not chronologically correspond to the construction order of the building.
    In 1792, according to the design of Giacomo Quarenghi, of the Winter Channel, the so-called “Lodges of Raphael”, a gallery of copies of Raphael’s frescoes, which exactly repeats the papal palace gallery in the Vatican, joined the building.
    In 1835-1837, an arch was built on the Winter Channel that connected the Great Hermitage with the Hermitage Theater, and an air passage similar to the Little Hermitage had already been built on the other side of the building.
    Adjacent to the Winter Palace and the Little Hermitage, the Great Hermitage is apparently more rigorous and concise; This was done with the purpose of further emphasizing the expressiveness of the main part of the palace complex: the Winter Palace.
    In addition to storing art collections of the palace, part of the Great Hermitage site was used for the needs of the State Council, and later the arsenal of Tsarskoye Selo, for which an independent entrance and a special Soviet staircase were made in the building .
    In 1852, by decree of Emperor Nicholas, I opened to the public.
    The Great Hermitage is included in the Unified State Register of Cultural Heritage Sites.

The history

The huge and uncomfortable Winter Palace did not like the new Empress Catherine II. She decided to build for herself a “small secluded corner”. The new building was designed by architect Jean-Baptiste Wallen-Delamotte.

It was located near the Winter Palace. It housed ceremonial rooms where the empress received guests. The south wing was reserved for favorite apartments, it was called the “Favorite Body”. In addition to these rooms, there were also hanging gardens. Because of them, the palace was initially called the Casa del Naranjal. Later, the Northern Pavilion was completed. The facades of the Casa del Naranjal were decorated with columns, bas-reliefs and sculptures in the style of Catalina’s classicism. 11 years were dedicated to its construction.

The first resident of this house was Count Grigory Orlov, then he was replaced by Grigory Potemkin. Catalina II loved to spend the afternoons here, during which the guests played, participated in presentations. The Empress called them “small collections of the Hermitage”, so a new name emerged: the Little Hermitage. In its facilities, the hostess maintained a large collection of paintings and books. At the beginning of the 19th century, the architect Vasily Petrovich Stasov built an additional fourth floor. It now houses one of the oldest artifacts: a mechanical peacock, presented to Catherine II by Count Grigory Orlov. Soon there was not enough space for the meeting, and a new building was needed to store them. Then the idea of ​​building the large or ancient hermitage arose.

The only works of Leonardo da Vinci are exhibited in the Old Hermitage. It was built next to the Little Hermitage and the Winter Palace. The architect Yuri Matveevich Felten was dedicated to its construction. The former Hermitage was completed 17 years later. The first floor was intended to house the State Council and the Council of Ministers.

The interior was designed by Andrei Ivanovich Shtakenschneider. Many rooms are decorated with marble columns and pilasters with bronze and gold ornaments, the fireplaces are decorated with lapis lazuli, 6 doors are framed by fragments of turtle shells. On the walls of a large two-level hall on the second floor there are paintings by Russian commanders. In addition, in the facilities of the Great Hermitage there are paintings by artists from Western Europe, which were acquired by Catherine II. The Hermitage became old thanks to the New Hermitage, built under Nicholas I.


The buildings of the small and old hermitage are part of the state hermitage. They exhibit paintings by western European artists, books, sculptures, furniture. The employees of these museums hold exhibitions, conferences and theme nights. The doors for visitors are open every day.

Two additional special collections known as the Galleries of Treasures (of Gold and Diamonds) of the Hermitage focus on the piles of Scythian and Greek gold and silver in the Caucasus, Crimea, Ukraine, East and the sumptuous jewels that in their time belonged to the Russian czars. To visit them you need a previous reservation (they do not enter the traditional guided tour) that is made on demand. Please ask for it separately.

A panoramic visit to the museum may have variations, but it lasts about 4 hours. You can find out among others the ballrooms of the Winter Palace, the Little Hermitage, several samples of paintings of Italian, Spanish, Dutch urine, the private rooms of the Flemish Tsares, French of the Old and the New Hermitage, the rooms of the Impressionists and post-impressionists. The opening hours of the Hermitage are from 10.30 to 18.00. and on Mondays there is no opening. You can pay an extra cost to take pictures as long as you do not use flash in temporary exhibitions it is completely forbidden to take photographic capture. There are two coffee shops and several book and souvenir shops in the museum.