The State Hermitage Museum is the most famous and most visited museum of Saint Petersburg and the second largest art museum in the world. It is difficult to imagine a trip to Saint Petersburg without a visit to the Hermitage and here we collected the most unusual and little-known facts of this former tsar residence.
The Hermitage is in the list of top-20 most visited museums of the world and is the most popular museum in Russia after the Peterhof.
The Hermitage is the legal home for more than 50 cats. This cat population traces its history from 18th century, when people needed to protect residence from mice and rats. Today, it is believed that the Hermitage cats still take care of the art masterpieces safety.
The collection of the Hermitage counts approximately 3 million items preserved in 365 halls. To go through all of them, you will have to pass 24 kilometres.
To get acquainted with all the showpieces of the Hermitage, you will have to spend approximately 11 years, provided you watch each item for no longer than a minute during an 8-hour daily visit.
Being a very popular museum with long lines and big crowds of tourists, the Hermitage is called so after a French word, which means “Solitude”.
Today the Hermitage is available for anyone and even has a monthly day of free entrance. However, it was not always like this: before the middle of 19th century, only wealthy noblemen upon a special invitation could visit it.
Among the showpieces, there are some creepy things like a real mummy of the Ancient Egypt and a piece of tattooed human skin. Another unusual item is a snuffbox, which, according to some researches, became a murder weapon of the Russian Emperor Pavel the I.
The Hermitage is the only museum in Russia where you can see Leonardo Da Vince art works.
The air conditions are used in the Hermitage from year 1912; they worked more like the air humidifiers but it was still a progressive idea of that time.
The basement levels of the Hermitage were used as an air-raid shelter during the World War II.