State Hermitage Museum (The Winter Palace), Saint Petersburg, Russia

The former residence of Russian Tsars, this majestic Baroque palace which lies on the banks of the River Neva, is perhaps one of St Petersburg's main attractions.

Built between 1754 and 1762 the palace was intended for Empress Elisabeth, daughter of Peter the Great, but Elisabeth had passed away before it was completed and Catherine the Great was the first resident. Many of the impressive interiors have been remodeled since then, particularly after 1837, when a huge fire destroyed most of the palace. Nowadays the Winter Palace houses the extensive collections of the Hermitage Museum, which is the largest art gallery in Russia.

State Hermitage Museum

The State Hermitage is one of the oldest and largest museums in the world. It occupies six magnificent buildings situated along the embankment of the River Neva, right in the heart of St Petersburg. The leading role in this unique architectural ensemble is played by the Winter Palace, the former residence of the Russian tsars that was built to the design of Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli in 1754-62. This ensemble, formed in the 18th and 19th centuries, is extended by the eastern wing of the General Staff building, the Menshikov Palace and the recently constructed Repository.

Put together throughout two and a half centuries, the Hermitage collections of works of art (over 3 million items) present the development of the world culture and art from the Stone Age to the 20th century. Location: Dvortsovaya nab. 34.