June 24, 2013 - The Hermitage

We walk around St. Petersburg and through Palace Square. Time to enter the former Winter Palace and the famous museum...

We have a private guide, which is totally the way to go.
(We skip a long line and move at our pace once inside.)
Iren helps Ella scanher ticket to enter.

The artwork in the forms of paintings and sculpture take a back seat to the building itself.
In many rooms, the walls are rediculously ornate.
In every room, the ceilings and floors are awesome - and they're all different.

They say this is real gold. I wonder if they mean it once was real gold.

Iren gives us a brief overview of the massive museum.

You can see why this was the official palace of the Russian Tsars.

Large portraits of former military generals are a part of the largest collection of paintings in the world.

It is hard to see, but in form/layout, these floors perfectly mirror

the ceiling above.

My queen and my princess in front of the imperial throne.

Awesome ceiling.

Intricate mosaic floor.

Built in the late 1700s, this "clock" has a rotating dragonfly that has a tick of movement every second.
It has Roman numeral dials that show the hours and minutes.
It chimes every hour.
Once per week, the owl moves its hears and eyes, the peacock raises its head and opens its tail before spinning completely around, and rooster crows three times.
Then you have to wind it up again.

Back to the main museum.

Seriously, every ceiling is unique.

By now, Ella is tired of walking, so I carry her.

This room is perfectly symmetrical in terms of the hand-painted walls.

Many museums have suits of armor, but I haven't seen them sitting on stuffed, armored [real] horses.

So, there is artwork except from the building, but there is no central air conditioning (though a few small wall-units are spread around certain areas). It is June. By now, we're pretty hot.

Ella finds a good way to cool off.

We don't go, but an outer courtyard looks inviting.

We've been in the museum for a couple of hours.
Els wants to go back out to the big Palace Square.

This is cool - royal sleighs of the tsars.

That's enough culture.
Time to go and undermine that with a different form - food and wine (and vodka)!