Russia may be isolated from the artistic centers of Paris, Rome, and London, but the Hermitage has managed to acquire a spectacular collection of world art—more than three million items—spanning the years from the Stone Age to the early 20th century. The museum occupies six buildings along the Neva River, the leading structure being the confection-like Winter Palace. This gloriously baroque, blue-and-white structure was finished in 1764 and over the next several centuries was the main residence of the czars. Catherine the Great founded the museum that same year when she purchased 255 paintings from Berlin. The museum’s focal point is Western European art—120 rooms in four buildings ranging from the Middle Ages to the present day. Rembrandt, Rubens, Tiepolo, Titian, da Vinci, Picasso, Gauguin, Cézanne, van Gogh, and Goya are all represented here. For in-depth tours, contact Glories of the Hermitage.
Main attractions: The Treasure Gallery’s Gold Rooms showcase golden masterpieces from Eurasia, the Black Sea Littoral in antiquity, and the Orient. The museum also houses pieces from Nicholas II’s private collection