There is no need to be shy about it – Hermitage Museum is at least as important for the fine art museum scene in the World as Louvre Museum located in Paris. Hermitage will impress you not only with its rich art collection but also with its grandeur since it was original built as a palace. The museum is home to works from Rembrand, Leonardo Da Vinci, Van Gogh and El Greko among many others. The original basis of the collection is the purchase made by Russian empress Great Catherina (whose reign lasted between 1762 and 1796) from the German merchant Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky. One of the most surprising sides of the museum for me is linked to the history of the building. As I noted, the main building of the museum – Winter Museum – has originally been built to serve as the residence of Russian royalty and was converted to a museum following the Russian Revolution of 1917. In addition to the very vast exhibit rooms, you can also at any point find yourself inside a room as small as a guest room in your house housing paintings of major importance. This is sure an inevitable result of the museums original construction purpose – not a museum but a palace. Hermitage is as impressive from the outside as it is from the inside – especially if you are looking at the museum from a boat riding on Neva River. It feels like the museum is saluting you with its lights on together with all the treasure that it houses inside. Every moment in this trip is a reminder of what an important civilization Russia has been home to. Hermitage Museum now feels like an indispensable component of such grandeur and importance. By the way, I recommend that you buy your tickets in advance and online – it will save you a lot of time.