The Hermitage in Saint Peterburg, Russia is one of the largest, oldest, and most magnificent museums in the world.The Hermitage houses over three millions items and includes the largest collection of paintings anywhere in the world. This extraordinary palace was founded by Catherine the Great in 1764 as her personal residence and private collection of treasures, but since 1852 it’s has been open to the public. (Picture above from Wikipedia. Attribution: A. Savin.) The collections occupy a large complex of six historic buildings along Palace Embankment on the River Neva and include the Winter Palace, which was a former residence of Russian emperors. It was our great privilege to enjoy a performance at their theater and tour this monumental complex during our Northern European cruise, and I wanted to share some of the Hermitage’s mind-boggling beauty with you.I think one of the major differences between The Hermitage and other of the world’s greatest art museums that I’ve visited—such as the Louvre in Paris, the British Museum in London, the Smithsonian Institution, and Metropolitan Museum in the U.S. and the Uffizi in Italy—all of these were built as museums. The Hermitage was built as a palace, and for this very reason, even the intricate details of each wall are gold-encrusted displays of opulence. Catherine wasn’t showcasing world treasures, she was showcasing her home, and she wanted it to be unsurpassed for beauty apart from any furnishings.As in the Catherine Palace, every detail in each room is artistically crafted, right down to the colors and designs in their elaborately parqueted floors. But don’t look down for long. Looking up takes your breath away!There are massive chandeliers in every room, and every ceiling is a masterpiece of art. The windows are dressed with richly embroidered draperies, silk, and velvet (note the marble window sills inlaid with gold-plated duct work)! and a closer inspection of things only leaves one more and more enthralled! 🙂 For instance, notice the balance and beauty in this rose sitting room. Now notice the gold and satin! Imagine reclining on one of these chairs! Oh, and have I mentioned that each room has its own hand-crafted fireplace? Can you imagine sitting by a snug fire playing the harp in this room? Frankly, it’s hard to imagine trying to sleep in a room this huge and grand…but I could get used to eating at a silver table inlaid with mother of pearl. Besides being palatial, The Hermitage is one of the world’s greatest museums. There are rooms filled with “first editions” and original works by famous authors and composers, ETC. Also, the Hermitage holds the world’s largest art collection, including a phenomenal portrait gallery…and my personal favorite: The Raphael Loggias, a long corridor filled with pictures depicting the Biblical narrative from Genesis through Revelation. There are also entire rooms dedicated to the artwork of Rembrandt and other of the world’s greatest artists. Even if you couldn’t read, I think by the time you’d finished studying the pictures, you’d have some conception of God’s great love for us through the life and sacrificial death of Christ, making a way for all of us to be reconciled to God through repentance and faith in the atoning work of Jesus. Furthermore, God is preparing a home for his children in heaven that is far more marvelous than we can even imagine—even more beautiful than the Hermitage! It is my prayer that everyone who reads this post will find refuge in God and that—before you exit this life, you will have peace in the assurance that God is preparing a special abiding place just perfect for you in heaven!
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
(Spoken by Jesus Christ in the Bible: John 14:1-3)