The Hermitage is one of the largest museums in the world. It was opened in 1764 by Catherine II and was at that time her private collection. At that time, about 300 paintings were brought to her from Berlin. Moreover, it was not a gift to the empress, but the payment of a penalty for disrupting the supply of grain for the Russian army. The apartment where the paintings were exhibited was called the Hermitage. Currently, the Hermitage includes several buildings, in which more than 300 rooms are open to visitors. Translated from French, "ermitage" means "a place of solitude, a hermit's shelter."
12 interesting facts about the Hermitage
- The Hermitage collection numbers about 3, 000, 000 items. If you spend just one minute looking at each of them, it will take about eight years to see everything. In this case, it will be necessary to walk tens of kilometers. For a long time, only a select few could get into the Hermitage. Only "worthy and famous people" were admitted here. The Hermitage was opened for mass visits only in the middle of the 19th century.
- The Hermitage is now one of the ten most visited museums in the world. Up to three million visitors come here annually.
- Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin managed to visit the Hermitage for the first time only in 1832, so strict were the rules for admitting visitors at that time. Another famous Russian poet Vasily Andreevich Zhukovsky helped him get an unlimited pass to the museum.
- Emperor Nicholas I, under whom the Hermitage was opened to the general public, nevertheless liked to stroll through its halls in complete solitude. And he was very angry if at that time he was distracted by something.
- 176 sculptures have been installed on the roof of the Hermitage. Moreover, they were originally installed not for decoration, but for a purely practical purpose. Thus, the architects decided to disguise the chimneys so that they would not spoil the look of the buildings.
- There are about 50 cats in the service at the Hermitage, which protect the funds from rodents. During the blockade, there were no cats left, therefore, immediately after the end of the war, they were brought here from the Yaroslavl region. Each cat has its own passport and medical card, a certain territory is assigned to the animals, which they vigilantly guard.
- There are legends among the employees of the Hermitage. For example, according to one of them, at night you can see the ghost of Nicholas II, who silently walks through the halls. At this time, even an alarm can be triggered. Sometimes you can find in the deserted night halls of the figures of Peter the Great and Nicholas the First.
- General of the tsarist army Dmitry Petrovich Ivkov was not only an avid gambler, but also a collector of playing cards. In his collection one could find decks of different times and different countries, and, for rare copies, the general was ready to pay a lot of money. Now 2, 000 decks of playing cards from the collection of IP Ivkov are kept in the Hermitage.
- Many researchers claim that Emperor Paul I was killed by a snuffbox blow on the head, which Count Nikolai Aleksandrovich Zubov inflicted on him. At present, this snuff-box is kept in the Golden Pantry of the Hermitage. An insert with the inscription "belonged to Ober-Stahlmeister Count Nikolai Aleksandrovich ZUBOV" has survived.
- Two days after the start of the Great Patriotic War, it was decided to evacuate the Hermitage. On June 30, the first echelon departed from Leningrad, into which about half a million of the most valuable exhibits were loaded. The city of Sverdlovsk was chosen as the place of storage during the war. The evacuated values were placed in the local art gallery, and some of them were kept in the former house of the engineer Ipatiev, where in the summer of 1918 Emperor Nicholas II and his family were shot. Six of the Hermitage employees died at the front and 43 died in besieged Leningrad.
- Despite the fact that the treasures of the Hermitage are strictly guarded, thefts occasionally occur even here. For example, the painting "Pool in a Harem" was stolen on March 22, 2001, during the museum's opening hours. This painting was painted by the French painter Jean-Leon Gerome in 1875. By the beginning of the XXI century, its cost was about one million dollars. The painting returned to the Hermitage in an amazing way; in 2006, an unknown person handed it over to G.A. Zyuganov's reception, saying that the communist leader would not resell it, but would return it to the people. After restoration, the canvas was returned to the Hermitage.
- Some of the unique exhibits of the Hermitage were sold in the twenties and thirties of the last century, when the country was in dire need of currency. Many Western antiquaries willingly bought the most valuable paintings at a reasonable price. At the same time, the leadership of the Soviet Union explained that a world revolution would soon take place, and all the masterpieces would be returned back. Until now, canvases from the Hermitage appear at antique auctions. naturally, their cost is many times higher than what was paid almost a hundred years ago.