Russia_2761 - Monument and Hermitage
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In front is a monument to the Russian military victory in the war with Napoleon's France. Named after Emperor Alexander I, who ruled Russia between 1801 and 1825.
It is 47.4 meters (155 ft 8 in) tall and is topped with a statue of an angel holding a cross (the face of the angel is said to be of Emperor Alexander I). The body of the column is made of a single monolith of red granite, which stands 25.5 meters (83 ft 6 in) high and about 3.5 meters (11 ft 5 in) in diameter. It is a terrific feat of engineering that this enormous column, weighing an incredible 1,322,760 pounds (600 tons), was erected in under 2 hours without the aid of modern cranes and engineering machines. It is not attached at the base but is just free standing.
In the background is the the Hermitage one of the world's largest and most prestigious museums, the Hermitage has over 3 million items in its collection. One estimate has it that you would need eleven years to view each exhibit on display for just one minute. The bulk of the Hermitage collection is housed in the Winter Palace, formerly the official residence of the Romanov Tsars, and its several annexes.
Founded by Catherine the Great, who bought up artwork from European aristocrats, embellished by each of her successors, and then massively enriched by Bolshevik confiscations and Red Army seizures in conquered Germany, the Hermitage collection is incredibly varied, ranging from ancient Siberian artifacts to post-impressionist masterpieces by Matisse and Picasso. Equally impressive are the lavishly decorated State Rooms of the Winter Palace, testament to the incredible wealth and extravagant tastes of the Romanov Tsars.