|After breakfast we boarded the bus with about 25 other passengers and went with our guide to the Hermitage. The Hermitage was built in the late 1700s by Catherine the Great as her palace. Hermitage means solitude in French. She designed one of the rooms for a place for solitude and the name stuck for the entire palace. The Hermitage boasts some 3 million works of art and historical artifacts, although only a fraction are on public display. The place is huge and sits right on the Neva River. Inside it is very ornate - Russian baroque - and has room after room of treasures. Rooms are separated by the nationality of the artists and the works of art are from the 13th through 18th centuries. We visited rooms with Italian art - some Rafael, a couple of Da Vinci, etc. The dutch rooms had other masters including some Vermeer. Also displays of clothing worn by the royalty during that period. Although it was late in the tourist season there were thousands of people in the museum so it was extremely crowded.
During World War II the Nazis (the Russians do not say the Germans)invaded the area. It was their usual procedure to loot art objects from the areas they occupied. The Russians knew this and moved as many of these items further East so that the Nazis could not steal them.
The day was lovely so we found a cafe on the water and sat and enjoyed the weather for a bit. Returned to the ship for dinner then back to the theater at the Hermitage for a ballet performance of Swan Lake. Really beautiful theater and great performance. It was a very busy day and we were happy to retire for the evening.