Secrets and interesting facts of St. Petersburg

Few secrets from Hermitage….

Back in 1764 the Hermitage collection consisted of 317 exhibits. Currently, the five buildings of the museum are accommodating about three million works of art, and the Hermitage is included in the top 20 museums in the world.

The word "hermitage" translated from French means "a place of solitude," "hermit shelter," "cell." In France, small pavilions in the palaces were called the Hermitage. On the ground floor of the pavilions the servants were housed, and the second floor was dedicated to the hosts and guests. The servants set the table with the dishes downstairs and lifted it by means of elevator upstairs. Thus, the aristocracy were left alone and the servants did not interfere with their privacy.

A collection of paintings of Catherine II, who grounded the Hermitage, was also originally housed in a wing of the palace, which was called "Small Hermitage". Since only selected aristocrats could enter the museum, it was suggested that they could be left alone with their own thoughts and art in the Hermitage.

In 1852, the museum's collection had grown. A new building of Imperial Hermitage was opened to new exhibits.

In the XVIII century the walls of the Winter Palace began being damaged by rats. Under the decree of Empress Elizabeth of Kazan the cats were brought to the museum to get rid of rodents. It is known that Catherine II did not like cats, but left them and assign them the status of " galleries security guards ", dividing the cats on the yard and the room. At the present time the Hermitage cats continue to guard the museum. They are considered to be the official members of the Hermitage. They have their own passport and can move throughout the museum, in addition to rooms.

In the XVIII and the first half of the XIX century, the common people could not get to the Hermitage: only the aristocracy, close to the court were allowed into the museum. But even for the first persons strict attendance rules applied. The military had to come exclusively in ceremonial uniforms, and all the rest - in evening dress. The famous man, dressed in casual coat, would not be allowed by the court office of the Hermitage, which gave out the tickets.

Each noble visitor received a personal footman who told him about the painters and kept an eye for not to be damaged. Even Pushkin could not get into the museum even. Only in 1832 his friend Vasily Zhukovsky, who served as a mentor of the son of Nicholas I, gave to the poet unlimited pass. The museum became public only in 1852.

Emperor Nicholas II was very fond of cars. In his personal collection, there were more than twenty brands of cars "Mercedes", "Rolls-Royce" and "Delaunay-Belleville."

In 1910, specifically for the fleet of Emperor Travel a large garage was built between the Winter Palace and the Small Hermitage. It was equipped with a gas station, car wash and a private steam heating system. The Emperor liked to stay in the garage and personally washed and filled up newly bought car. In 1917, during the looting of the Hermitage the Bolsheviks appropriated all the cars, so  now it is not possible to see not a single car of Nicholas II.

In 1960 a famous art critic from Holland arrived in the Hermitage with an official visit. After reading lectures for Leningrad specialists he was sitting with  the museum staff in the back and drank tea. Suddenly he saw an edge of the sheet looking out of the cabinet. The professor pulled the sheet and was stunned: it turned out to be the canvas of the famous Dutch artist Hendrick Goltzius "Bacchus, Ceres, Venus and Cupid". Hermitage staff were amazed.

It is known that drawing was purchased by Catherine II back in 1772, then went to the Moscow Academy of Arts, after the revolution, returned to the Hermitage, but how long after that it gathered dust in a trance could not be determined. The canvas was sent for restoration, and in 2005, the picture is again in the Hermitage exhibition.

Currently, the museum name does not correspond to its purpose in the XVIII century. The Hermitage consists of five buildings, and its rooms are daily visited by about 12 thousand people.

From the pictures, which ushered in the Hermitage in XVIII century, only a third has reached our days. However, the exposition of the museum is growing every year. In 1988 the Hermitage was in the Guinness Book as the largest art gallery in the world. To see all three million exhibits, you need to pass 24 km. If, however, you spend one minute at each artwork in all the rooms you would require 11 years - on the condition that you will visit the Hermitage for eight hours every day.


The Hermitage

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