The Hermitage

Having taken groups to the Louvre in Paris many times, I have always felt overwhelmed by the art, the building, the atmosphere, which is abuzz with tourist energy. I know the Louvre and the Hermitage complete. The one claims to have more art on display, the other acquires something new and they claim to now be the biggest. This has gone on for years…and it was my opportunity to decide for myself – which one was truly the biggest, the most impressive and the one to take the Dawn title of excellence.

The Hermitage green is gorgeous! You can see the building from most prominent spots in the city. It really stands out! The queues of tourists snaked along the river, but moved so very quickly. As we got through the turnstiles I could see a grand staircase ahead…the excitement was building! And from then on I was awestruck! Every room, every passage, every ceiling, every floor was magnificent! The sunlight streamed in through the windows creating a wonderful ambiance, shadows and warmth. I was entranced! And this was only a small piece of the five buildings. What a pleasurable time it must’ve been for the royalty when they lived here.

To top it off I got to stand in front of two Da Vinci paintings and many Rembrandt masterpieces. Unbelievable! They say you need at least a week to see the Hermitage properly. And that is what I will do! I have had a small bite…and it tasted fabulous! Now I will go back for more to satisfy myself completely.

So, who wins the Dawn award? Well, the Louvre is impressive. Its decor is simple, less fussy and the focus is on the art. There is a wonderful modern element with the IM Pei structure and it oozes French history. But for me the Hermitage is the clear winner. The decor and the displays are presented in a creative way – in a way that the art does not take away from the elegance of the building and the building does not overpower the incredible artwork. It is perfectly balanced to allow your senses to ‘ooo’ and ‘aahhh’ involuntarily.

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