Our next stop was the Hermitage. Like all great cities, a good art museum shows off how powerful you really are. The Hermitage was originally a residential palace and many rooms are open to tour. In the 1800s, the decision was made to allow commoners the opportunity to stroll through the building and admire the collections. It is a “must see” for anyone visiting St Petersburg and the crowds were intense. Our tour guide led us through the main highlights and then gave us some time to browse on our own. We enjoyed gazing at the Impressionist collection and saw some artists’ work up close and personal. Very little of the Hermitage is kept in climate-controlled environments so you can really see the brush strokes and shading the artists employed.
To round out our tour of the city, we stopped at the Church of Spilled Blood, an impressive onion-domed church which is more colorful than St Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. We also visited the sphinx from Egypt and gazed at Peter and Paul Fortress on the water. It was a grand view of a truly remarkable city.