Winter Palace and Hermitage State Museum


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18th century was a dynamic period in history, when importance of fortified royal castles lessen. As Louis XVI founded the Versailles, Russian Tsar's decided also to rise a luxurious Palace.

The first Winter Palace was quite small and humble, so five years after finishing it (1711), the second construction started. During forty years, five palaces were built, as every Tsar and Tsaritsa wish to have a home more splendid than previous one. The last building, ordered by Tsaritsa Elisabeth, was completed after her death, in 1762. This impressive, baroque palace lasted as a royal residence till 1917. The first inhabitant was Catherine II, and she was also the one, who started history of Hermitage museum.
Catherine started a collection of 18th century painting, adding it to the collections of former Tsars. As a storage place she build so-called Little Hermitage,and, of course, the collection was exclusive, only for Empress and her guests. It was Nicolas I, who opened the museum to public, in 1852. He built the New Hermitage only for this purpose.
Nowadays museum is located in almost all buildings around Palace Square, including fifth Winter Palace. The collection contain paintings of all important painters, such as Rembrandt, Rubens, Gauguin, Picasso or Monet. Different parts of exhibition are dedicated to historical periods – from prehistoric artefacts, Egyptian and classic antiquities, to the modern art, and to regions -e.g. Italian renaissance, Dutch golden age, or German, British, Swiss and French fine art.

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