Since the time of Catherine the Great, the Staterooms of the Winter Royal Residence in St. Petersburg were opened for evening musical receptions organized by the Tsarina for her friends and foreign guests. She called the rooms for these receptions "hermitage" - a place where she could forget about state affairs and the hardships of being a monarch. Catherine the Great would send her invitations to smart, talented people who could amuse Her Majesty with interesting conversation and share a cup of coffee with her. She would also take advantage of this time to show them the latest purchases for her rapidly growing collection of European paintings and treat her guests to some beautiful music - another fashion of the time. During these evening musical parties, Catherine the Great transformed herself into a gracious and hospitable lady, who conducted without ceremony.
This enchanting evening tour offers you the unique opportunity of visiting the Hermitage Museum at night, where you are able to revive Catherine the Great's exquisite tradition of the 18th century and enjoy the Museum's beautiful collections on your own, avoiding the usual crowds.
A coach transfer brings you from the pier directly to the Hermitage Museum where upon arrival, your guide will take you up the Jordan staircase, striking in its splendor with glimmering golden stuccowork and the dazzling whiteness of the marble statues. Upon reaching the upper landing, you will walk through the Winter Palace's superb staterooms: the Field-marshal's Hall, Small Throne Room meant to commemorate Peter the Great and his deeds, the Emblem Hall with its vast gilded columns, the Gallery of 1812 displaying portraits of Russian military heroes of the Napoleonic war, and the Hall of St. George - fitted in Cararra marble and gilt bronze. The floor parquet is made up of 16 varieties of wood and is a mirror reflection of the ceiling motif.
Next, you will proceed to the Small Hermitage and find yourselves in the Pavilion Hall with its slender marble columns supporting an elegant gallery and 28 scintillating cut-glass chandeliers. A real gem in the Hermitage collection is the famous Peacock Clock. Housed in a glass cage made by a celebrated English clockmaker in the middle 18th century, it was presented to Catherine II by her favorite, prince Potyomkin. The "clock" represents a peacock on a gilded tree branch (completed with gilded leaves), an owl in a cage, and a rooster.
Continuing on, you will enter the Old Hermitage, which houses the 13th - 16th century Italian art collection. On display here are two paintings by Leonardo Da Vinci: the Madonna with a Flower and the Litta Madonna; an early work by Rafael - the Connestabile Madonna, and a later work by him - the Holy Family. The Crouching Boy piece found here is the only work by Michelangelo in Russia. However, the Venetian school of art dominates, with Judith by Giordgione and an array of works by Titian, such as Repentant Mary Magdalene, Danae and St. Sebastian.
Following your tour of the Hermitage, a small champagne party will refresh you before being treated to a concert of classical music performed by the State Hermitage Orchestra. Afterwards, you will rejoin your coach for the transfer back to the pier.
Please note: This tour includes approximately 90-minutes of moderate walking/standing plus numerous stairs to negotiate. An elevator is only available upon first entering the Museum and not upon exiting. The tour is not available to wheelchair guests and not considered suitable for those with mobility concerns. Country club casual clothing and flat, comfortable walking shoes are suggested. Guests must remain within their organized, guided group. Flash photography is not permissible in areas with paintings.