A few years ago, Alex Gorina invited me to watch a Russian movie in the Verdi Park cinemas. It was a special session that he organized for the listeners of his film program «La finestra indiscreta«. At first, I thought it would be a real rollazo, but after coming to invite me, I decided to go see her. The film in question was The russian ark by Alexander Sokurov, a movie filmed in the Hermitage on the occasion of the third centenary of the foundation of St. Petersburg, and that recreates life in the palace of the tsars during its maximum splendor. It is famous because it was filmed in one shot, with 2000 actors and for 33 rooms of the Winter Palace. A masterpiece.
Today, the palace is the most famous of the 400 museums in St. Petersburg, and one of the best known in the world: the hermitage. The museum's collection of paintings was started by Catherine II in 1764, after buying 225 works from the Johann Gotzkowski from Berlin, which she later exhibited in her retreat rooms known as "the hermit's refuge". Gradually, the collection was expanded to reach the current number of 2,800,000 pieces, much of them confiscated or nationalized by the Soviet Union during the decades of the 20s and 30s, which makes it currently one of the most important museums in the world.
The Winter Palace
The entrance to the museum costs 400 rubles, but Nastia had drawn up a master plan to try to save us some tickets. She had the Russian student card (with which she enters for free in all the museums) and, as when entering the museum they do not ask for your card (they only ask for it at the ticket office when buying), she decided to go find an entrance to each one of the three independent lockers out there. In the end, we only had to buy one and we entered without any control.
This magnificent palace was built between 1754 and 1762 by architect B.F. Restrelli for Empress Isabel Petrovna following the Russian Baroque style and was the residence of the Czars until 1917. What most impresses upon entering the museum is the main staircase, also called the ambassadors, entirely of white marble with the walls covered with golden moldings that shine with the light of the windows. Looking dumbfounded on one side and the other, we went through the chambers of the palace. In the malachite room, objects and columns made with this greenish stone stand out. Also the white room that, as its name indicates, is totally white and is inspired by the ancient basilicas of the Roman era. The golden hall, the green dining room (where the provisional government was arrested in October 1917) and the Gothic library built in 1890.
The hall of the Winter Palace pavilion
Without a doubt, the hall that most impresses with the Winter Palace is the hall of the pavilion. It was built in 1858 and almost completely occupies the first floor of the «Small» Hermitage. In fact, this building is attached to the rest of the palace and you hardly notice that it has passed from one part to another. Its white columns and golden details stand out. It even has a mosaic on the floor replica of one that is in the Vatican and a watch the sea of extravagant, with the shape of a turkey, a bush and an owl totally gilded and of enormous dimensions that move to the sound of the hours. The room is very beautiful, but it was a pity that we got there just when all the cruise passengers were doing their express tour through the museum There were, all together, thousands of people who walked like automatons following the guide on duty, not caring in the least if they took someone ahead.