Private Tour and Concert at St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum and Theater
After our first day of exploration in St. Petersburg, we arrived back to the Ship about 4:30 pm, rushed an early dinner as we had to meet again at 6 pm for an evening at the Hermitage Museum for an after-hours tour and a concert in Catherine the Great’s private theater.
The Hermitage Museum is a complex of 5 buildings, one of which was the Winter Palace, a former residence of Russian emperors, and holds more than 3 million art objects – many of which are not on display.
It is said if you were to look at each piece for 5 seconds it would take over 25 years to complete your tour of the Museum. What is really incredible is that when the Nazis attacked Russia in WWII, over 2 million pieces were packed up and sent east to avoid being looted by the Germans. The Hermitage also houses the largest collection of paintings in the world.
We had been to the Hermitage about 5 years ago but not after hours and we can tell you, the crowds were horrendous. It was a real treasure to tour without thousands of people struggling to see the same pieces.
One of the treats was to observe the winding of the famous Peacock Clock which is a huge and ornate piece built in 1777 and was a gift to Catherine the Great. When activated, the animals move and, most impressively, the Peacock moves her head and spreads her golden wings.
It was phenomenal. Last time we were here we barely got to peer at it through the crowds.
We also got to see the Throne Room and many works by Rembrandt, Ruben and more…
We then had a champagne reception in the Lobby of the Hermitage Theater followed by a lecture on the history of the museum during WWII and the extensive efforts made to preserve its contents.
The State Russian Orchestra performed 7 numbers for us with traditional Russian instruments including domras, balalaikas and guslis along with more traditional instruments.
The Russian folk music was lively yet complex.
It was a magical evening and a special treat to be entertained in the favorite theater of Catherine the Great.