St. Petersburg Hermitage Museum

Good God, what is there to say. It far, far, far exceeded our expectations. I saw more than I thought I would, I liked more than I thought I would, I walked more than I thought was possible, and I was sure I had not scratched the surface of what the Hermitage has to offer. Wealth, lavish and magnificent are the words that come to my mind.

This world famous museum is virtually wallpapered with celebrated paintings, part of the former private art collection of the Czars. The gold laced lavish rooms in which the art resides, are works of art themselves. The name Hermitage comes from Catherine the Great herself, who meant her private apartments to be a place of retreat and seclusion — where she could be a hermit. Catherine the Great took it upon herself to acquire some of the world’s finest works of art. With 400 exhibit halls and gilded salons, it’s impossible to see everything in a single day.

The main artwork of Leonardo, Rembrandt, Van Dyck and the Peacock Clock were astounding. The Peacock clock has a story of its own…The clock consists of a guided peacock on a branch, a rooster and an owl in a cage. It was given to Catherine in 1781 and remains in working order today. At the top of the hour, the peacock spreads its wings and turns in a circle, the rooster crows, and the owl opens and closes its eyes. The mushroom at the bottom tells the hour and a dragonfly acts as the tiny second hand on the mushroom dial.

Catherine had an entire garden planted on the rooftop next to her office. It was here she would go outside and have tea or think, for some reason it made her seem a little more a human, who wished to be a hermit rather than this towering person of history.