The Hermitage is the 3rd largest museum in the world after the British museum and the Louvre. The main museum of Russia, the collection numbers around 3 million pieces, consists of 5 buildings built for the Russian Royal Family between the mid 18th and early 19th century. The main building of the Hermitage Museum, The Winter Palace, was designed by Italian architect Rastrelli and built between 1754 – 1762. Since 1762, the building had been used as the winter residence of the Russian Royal Family until the Revolution 1917.

Four more buildings were added to the Winter Palace between 1765 and 1810 – The Little Hermitage, The Old Hermitage, Hermitage Theatre and the New Hermitage. The Russian Royal family used these building until 1917.

After the Revolution 1917 all 5 buildings were nationalized and turned into an art museum.

The “highlights” tour of The Hermitage includes major collections of the "Old Masters”, permanent collection of the French impressionists paintings, the collection of French impressionists paintings relocated from Germany after WWII, so called "Hidden Treasures"; former living quarters of the Russian Royal Family in the Winter Palace. Duration 2.5 – 3 Hours. The tour of the Gold Room (collection of Royal Jewelry) adds an extra hour and requires special arrangements (
see VIP Tours and Services).

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