Among many other things that draw people to St.Petersburg’s most popular museum, the State Hermitage, is the Peacock Clock. This beautiful mechanism is located in the Pavillion Hall of the building and dates back to 1777, the time of Catherine the Great. Born as Sophia Augusta Frederica, she was raised in Prussia. At the age of 15 she converted to Russian Orthodoxy and married the future emperor of Russia, Peter III, the next day. The marriage was unsuccessful, along with the short monarchy of Peter III, and in 1762 she performed a coup d’état, an overt of the Peter’s government, eventually holding power over the Russian Empire, becoming its next Empress.
Catherine the Great was an ambitious monarch, who, after gaining the power, almost immediately started to implement her new ideas into Russian society. During her monarchy, she introduced many changes, including the renowned economic reform (which showed an incredible growth due to the liberation of import and export) and first ever paper money; she extended Russia’s borders and declared tolerance towards all religions. She also founded the first educational institution for girls, Smolny Institute for Noble Girls, and freed Russian nobles from compulsory state or military service.
She was deeply committed to the ideas of Renaissance; her time at the power is definitely the Golden Age of the Russian Empire. Among many other institutions, she founded the National Library of Russia and, of course, the State Hermitage which started as Catherine’s private collection and would later become one of the oldest and largest museums in the world with more than three million items. The legendary Peacock Clock, mentioned in the beginning of the article, was added to the collection in 1797. The artwork of British jeweller James Cox was gifted to Catherine the Great by Russian military leader Grigory Potemkin. Around the clock, there are mechanical figures of three creatures: an owl, which, as a night bird, wakes up first, the peacock itself which symbolises the sun, and, eventually the rooster. Although this clock was made 250 years ago, it still works and is open to public during the open hours of the Hermitage.
With three million items located in the museum, it is difficult to find a way around it on your own. A private tour of the State Hermitage is a perfect opportunity to see the highlights of one of the biggest collections in the world, including the famous Peacock Clock. Your professional private tour guide will give you the most interesting facts about the Hermitage, tell the story of Russian monarchy and offer you an incredible insight into the history of the collection. Another definitive advantage of having a private tour guide in St. Petersburg is a line-free entrance to the museum, which, if you consider its popularity, is a very important issue. Book your private tour to the Hermitage here.