Lining the Neva River are imposing buildings that show off the historic oscillating powers of the Romanovs, Soviets and Industrialists. But even at that, one building stands alone. The Hermitage Museum is a must see stop to anyone visiting St Petersburg for the first (or fifth) time. In spite of its misplaced art deco colour, Rastrelli’s masterful design has been the iconic structure on the south shore ever since Catherine the Great started hording works of art in 1764.
There is no way anyone could ever see, not to mention appreciate, the three million or so works contained in this treasured collection. So most visitors satiate their cultural duty and follow the crowds for momentary glimpses of works by daVinci, Michelangelo, Picasso and Van Gogh. Even at that, the experience is overwhelming, not only because of the volume of art to take in, but the volume of bodies pouring in and out of the small individual rooms where each collection is housed. Add to this urban Russia’s chilly hospitality and the Hermitage experience could be downright negative. That is, if not for one inadvertent ray of sunshine- the ‘nyet’ ladies.