This palace was home to the royal family for approximately 200 years before the beginning of the Russian Revolution. So being a palace, it was opulent and extravagant in a way that only a royal palace can be. Added to that, is the Hermitage, which is where they kept their royal art collection. So basically it's an enormous decadent palace with a huge art museum full of world treasures attached.
Jory and I were a little shell shocked when we walked into the first few rooms full of beautifully decorated walls, inlaid floors, and painted ceilings. It was hard to notice the treasures our tourguide was pointing out because we were so enamored with how each room was dressed.
Then he took us through part of the Hermitage. We toured room after room of famous art works. Michelangelo, Picasso, Rembrandt, you name it, they had it. All the great ones I studied in my Art History class in college were there.
A couple of super fancy ceilings...
Total sensory overload.
It would take an entire month to properly unpack all the treasures this museum had. There were entire collections that we missed. We would have loved to see the arsenal, the prehistoric art, the ancient coin collections. Oy. I don't think we saw anything on the ground level.
So anyway, if your ever in St. Petersburg, plan on spending more than one day at the Winter Palace
(nothing says showing off like an entire room decorated in gold)