Navigating Russian history through the world’s largest collection of paintings

Posted on Aug 13, 2019 in Student Speak

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Situated almost 4,930 kilometres away from Dehradun, the historic city of St. Petersburg is a major cultural hub of Russia where every nook and corner tells its own intriguing story.  If one travels to St. Petersburg, one should not miss out the following experiences:

1. A visit to State Hermitage Museum

2. Cruise on the Neva River

3. The Palaces and Gardens of Peterhof

4. A visit to Grand Market Rossiya

5. Painting Matryoshka dolls

I believe that the museums and historical monuments of any city are the best places to learn about its rich history and culture. Thus, visiting the State Hermitage Museum was the chief highlight of my trip. Let me begin by discussing the origins of the State Hermitage Museum. In the 18th Century, Yekaterina Alexeyevna, also known as Catherine II, dethroned her husband, Emperor Peter III with the support of her loyal guards in June 1762. In a few months’ time, she was declared Empress of Russia. In 1764, Empress Catherine II bought a collection of 225 paintings from Johann Gotzkowski. Catherine II purchased this huge art-collection to prove that the Russian State Treasury could afford such an expensive acquisition soon after the culmination of the Seven Years’ War, unlike Prussia. This truly embarrassed King Frederick II, the reigning king of Prussia at that time. Thus began a process of accumulation of numerous works of art, which would later become the greatest collection of paintings in the world.

 Some fun facts about the State Hermitage Museum that I discovered are as follows:

1. It is the second-largest museum in the world (after the Louvre in Paris) that consists of more than three million artefacts.

2. The museum has 1057 rooms in total. If you visit the Hermitage, one has to walk about 22 kilometres to cover all the sections of the museum. The museum has a separate hall displaying several masterpieces by Rembrandt. It is one of the largest collections of the Dutch artist outside the Netherlands.

3. More than 4.5 million people visit the State Hermitage Museum every year.

4. More than 75 cats act as guards to protect the precious works of art stored in the basement of the museum.

Visiting the museum was an extraordinary experience. The visit gave me an insight into the history of Russia. The grandeur and the beauty of the museum was astounding. The abstract frescoes and mosaics that portrayed the rich imagination of the artists made me wonder about their immense genius and creativity. I admired the staff of the museum for their efforts towards maintaining the precious artefacts besides providing us with an unforgettable experience. I would strongly recommend this museum to all art and history enthusiasts. I am sure that this museum will surely change their perspective.

Written by: Anushka Khetawat (Welham Girls’ School, Dehradun).

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EdTerra Edventures conducts various international and domestic programs for the youth. If you go to school and are under 17 years of age, ask your school to contact us to arrange a visit to your school for an introduction to the “Russia” and other journeys under EdTerra’s Going Global Program.

For queries call +91-11-48885800 or visit EdTerra Browse Journeys page to know more about the programs we offer to school students. Visit our FB page by clicking HERE

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