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Columbia, South Carolina
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January 22, 2004     The Columbia Star
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January 22, 2004
 

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1 4 *JANUARY 22. 2004 Travel THE COLUMBIA STAR ,.d Adventure h avel , by Warner M. Montgomery The Trans-Siberian Railway Part 12: The Hermitage Our tour guide had made reservations at The Hermitage, so we did not have to wait in the line that wrapped around the block. Linda and I and the other 61 people on the Trans-Siberian Railway tour simply walked up the few steps into the foyer of what had been two Romanov palaces. I purchased a permit for my camera for $3 and we moved through the metal detector into the main hallway. The guard ignored the continuous buzz from the unending line of tourists from every country in the world, most wearing long coats and many carrying bags and packages. It was frighten- ing to realize the total lack of security in the world's largest and greatest museum. The main building, the Winter Palace, was completed in 1762 and decorated in the Classical style by Catherine the Great. She had the Hermitage built next to it as a place to retreat (hence Hermitage) to contemplate the huge royal art collection. This collection had begun when Peter the Great, founder of St. Petersburg, com- manded his nobles to collect works of art from around the world and bring them to Russia's new capital. Catherine entertained in The Hermitage. Her rules of eti- quette required her guests to put aside their ranks and their swords, to break nothing, and not to yawn. Those violating her rules were forced to drink one full glass of water and recite a page of poetry. During the Soviet era, The Hermitage was fortunately and unexpectedly maintained as the State Museum. The museum was expanded to include four additional royal buildings on the banks of the Neva River. The government rulers continued the tradition of forcing former nobles and visiting nobility to donate to the collection. The museum received over four mil- lion visitors a year from around the world in the 1980s. Since the fall of communism, however, the number has fallen to less than two million a year and the museum is in financial trouble. The Hermitage is larger than the Louvre in Paris and the London Museum combined. The 3,000,000 works of art are spread out in 300 galleries. The main departments are History of Russian Culture, Ancient History, Central Asian Collection, The Middle East, China and Japan, Ancient Greece and Rome, and European Art. It is said that if you take one minute at each exhibit along the 25 kilometer route through the galleries, it would take you over 11 y see everything. Knowing that we oi three hours in the muse Linda and I opted for the Throne Room and the Expressionists Gallery. climbed the Jordan Stair featured so beautifully i movie, The Russian Ark, walked down the hallwa adorned from floor to va ceiling with copies of Rot artwork. (Next week: More of Hermitage) The Russian State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg was found- ed in 1762 by Catherine the Great. The Jordan staircase which leads to the Royal Throne Room in the Winter Palace (part of The Hermitage) is one of the most famous staircases in the world. The War Memorial Room celebrates the Russian victory over Napoleon in 1812. Portraits of all the Russian officers hang in the huge room. Family owned & operated for l ht ".e generations n AKgraphics2003@a01.c0m 803-376-4537 \\; "\\; RESTORE YOUR OLD PHOTOS TO WHAT THEY ONCE WERE. t . Revive your preoloul memories Into something to share with your family with the belt rates around ,, The two-story Royal Throne Room is made of Italian contains 24 crystal chandeliers. Through The H are marb sculpture Greece, and Cla.' Europe. The Rorr from Pete Great to Nicholas were crol in the Thf Room. trait behif Throne C of Peter Great.