Jul 17

Menshikov Palace (Palatul Menshikov)

The Menshikov Palace was named after the first governor-general of Sankt Petersburg, Prince Alexander Menshikov. The edifice dates from the beginning of the 18th century, having been erected in 1710 on Vasilevsky Island. Throughout time, the palace has been used for various purposes, both as dwelling and for administrative purposes. At present, the Menshicov Palace is part of the Federal Cultural Institution “State Hermitage.”

The architectural design of the Menshikov Palace is unique and this can be explained by the process of construction it underwent. The building work took a considerable number of years until completion and the design was conveyed by a team of European artists and architects: Giovanni Mario Fontana, Johann Gottfried Schadel, Domenico Trezzini, Carlo Bartolommeo Rastrelli, Georg Johanns Mattarnovi, Jean-Baptiste Alexandre Le Blond. But the palace was erected by the hands of Russian people, these having transposed the ideas on paper into the palpable construction one can admire nowadays.



The architectural design of the palace is a mixture of traditional Russian elements and novel features, imported from Europe, which consisted of the newest developments both in the structure and the design of buildings.

At the interior, the palace is decorated with paintings, molds, marble, vintage and modern Italian sculptures, textiles, tapestries, Russian and Dutch tiles. Although there is quite a variety of decorative elements, they are tastefully arranged so you don’t feel overwhelmed when entering a room.



The beautiful museum contained a numismatic collection, as well as statues, documents, books, and paintings and was considered the cultural center of Sankt Petersburg at that time.

But when Prince Alexander Menshikov lost his status, his possessions were impounded by the state and the palace came under the patronage of the First Cadet Corps.

The edifice was preserved to its original design as it was subjected to restoration during the 1970s. When this work was completed, the palace, now transformed into a museum, was opened for visitations from 1981 onward. The objects on display are not solely the private collections of prince Meshinkov, but include items belonging to the Imperial Family, as well as collections of the nobility.

Jul 05

The State Hermitage (Muzeul de Arta)

The State Hermitage, also known as the Federal Cultural Institution “State Hermitage,” is one of the greatest museam complex in Russia. The institution took form back in the 18th century (1764) when the Empress of Russia, Catherine the Great, purchased from Berlin an impressive number of paintings from Eastern Europe (225 paintings of Flemish and Dutch origin).

In time, the musem expanded and increased the number of works of arts it possessed. At present, the complex consists of various buildings spread throughout Sankt Petersburg. From the 10 edifices which form the State Hermitage, 7 date from the 18th and 19th century and are cultural monuments. The Winter Palace, the Menshikov Palace, the Small Hermitage, the Old Hermitage, the New Hermitage, the Restoration and Storage Center, The Museum of the Imperial Porcelain Factory are but a few of the edifices under the patronage of the State Hermitage.



The Main Museum Complex, as it is obvious from the name it bears, consists of the most important and largest collections of art works. The exhibitions are held in 6 different buildings, all located in the historical center of Sankt Petersburg. The pieces on display belong to the following categories: archeology, numismatics, and various works of art (scluptures, paintings, monuments) from Western Europe, countries in the Orient, Russia, as well as pieces dating from Antiquity.

In order to comprehed the magnitute of the collections, you should know that the museum complex holds within its walls approximately 3 million items. With such a collection it is no wonder that more than 2.5 million visitors, both from Russia and from abroad had come to the State Hermitage.




If you are not yet convinced whether or not you should visit the museum, maybe a short presentation of some of the works of art that exist here might help you make the right decision. The State Hermitage has a Military Gallery, which dates from 1826, and which Carlo Rossi (the man behind the project) had dedicated to the acts of bravery of the Russian soldiers that had fought in the Napoleonic Wars (1812). The Gallery contains 332 portraits of the generals who took part in the aforementioned wars, painted by George Dawe, of British origin, in collaboration with the Russian painters Alexander Polyakov and Wilhelm Golike.



The gallery was inaugurated on the 25th of October 1826, the exact same date (but different year, naturally) when the Napoleon’s army was expulsed from Russia.

A valuable painting found here is Leonardo da Vinci’s Madonna and Child, which was purchased in 1865 from Count Litta, owner of a gallery in Milan. The Count wanted to sell a considerable collection of paintings, 44 in number, but the director of the State Hermitage selected just four from the list presented to him. The total price for the works of art reached 100,000 francs and while all of the paintings are valuable, the Litta Madonna, as it became known, was the most important of them all.



The Madonna and Child (Conestabile Madonna), painted by Raphael, was added to the museum collection in 1870. The Madonna with a Flower, by Leonardo da Vinci, is on display since 1914, when the Russian population engaged in a fund-raising to gather enough money to buy the masterpiece from Maria Benois. The painting was finally acquired for the sum of 150,000 roubles – the owner, having been moved by the Russians’ detemination to add the painting to the Collection of the State Hermitage, decided to sell it at a smaller price.

But the works of art on display are numerous and all of them carry an immense value. Not only connoisseurs, but also novices in the field of fine arts will recognize their worth.