St Petersburg · travel

Working at the Hermitage. Almost

While I was preparing this post on my new job to be published, I somehow managed to decide to switch jobs again… It’s a bit disturbing, this hopping on and off but I guess it’s essential at this stage. I just need to go through this period of searching, trying and … searching again. Stability is not my cup of tea, haha (being auto-sarcastic).  Ironically, it’s what the Russians are aspiring for and it’s nevertheless what we rarely find. If we do find it, we tend to shake off this balance in some way, sometimes quite tragically.

But here I am, on the verge of changing jobs, and all is fine. And here is the photo-reportage about the place where – at least at the moment – I work and its surroundings. And this place deserve a post, truly. Let’s kick off with this species of Soviet constructivism style which has always scared me.


It rises just out of the historic centre of St Petersburg, right on the bank of the river Moyka, surrounded by apparently prettier buildings of classicism and Baroque styles. Would you believe this monster used to be a German Reformed Faith Church (built in 1862-1865) up until 1929 when it was – typically for that period – shut down, then used as a hostel and later in the thirties just rebuilt into… the Palace of Culture (literally translation) of the Post employees. The walls of the church got ‘nicely’ re-used and no trace of the church remained. The classic example of Soviet architectural ehm recycling. Our local church was transformed into a cinema, by the way.


the clocks are supposed to remind the Russian Post to be quicker, hm?

There used to be a concert / disco hall somewhere on the top floors. It now houses the Training Center of my favourite slooooooooooowest deliverer of postcards – the Russian Post! No surprise they teach them very eeeh weirdly in such a weird place. After such training the employees come out changed. For ever. Kidding 😀 And the entire district is called Post District as there’s the Central Post Office very close by.


I’ve walked round it and just couldn’t help feeling rather eeeh scared. The more attractive building is reflected in the windows of these massive uuugly doors. But the nastiest part of this monster is at its top. More terrifying photos of the tough Soviet sculptures decorating (I’d rather say making even uglier…) the building.

Thanks god we work in the opposite mansion (otherwise I would have definitely not agreed to work there!) which is faaaar away from the Soviet monster in terms of beauty (although in terms of decadence they are almost on the same level. The inside staircase smells of cats at the top floor and of potatoes on the ground floor). Well, you know, when the work is tsssss boring (at least in this dead season which is August), there’s always the pleasure of being in a very decadent and really old surroundings. Anyway, I’ve already decided to leave it, I just do not feel I belong to this place.

So here’s a photo-story of the Bilderlings’ House (neo-Baroque style, 19th century), after looking at these photos my friend Jana said that I’m working at the Hermitage : ) Well, almost!

Bilderling House, St Petersburg

The organization occupies the entire top floor with a real enfilade of rooms (you can go round them in circle). There’s also a staircase leading to the attic. The place used to have lots of other occupants throughout its history and it was rebuilt several times (thankfully not into some Palace of Culture for Post Employees!).  The interior design is amazing, indeed.


Here’s my workplace right… on the left. The room used to be a bedroom – it’s super-big with long windows and apparently lots of space for king-size beds 😉 The statue is cheating – look at her hands, she’s not supporting the arch at all. Typical, ha.


This couple doesn’t seem to be very charged with the weight either, they’re rather preoccupied with their affaire : )


The couple is in the next room which is the Fountain Hall. The fountain is not functioning anymore but the ceiling is just so oh-oh.


This ceiling is different, it’s in the impressive ‘Vampire Hall’ with chandelier and blood-red curtains, the entire room is decorated in the German (fairy-tale) style and there are these paintings on the ceiling:


 And in the other room there are these wooden decorations (in the background – a fireplace):


And this really old glazed tile stove, am sure it’s still functioning! The vents on the left are amazing, there’s still a cord hanging from one of them, apparently remaining there from the day it was used last:


In the entrance hall there’s also a very old wardrobe where you can fit your entire family. The place is packed with antiquities.


The ceiling decorations of the Bedroom look just like a buttercream cake to me. Yep, I know, I see food everywhere. The letter B stands for Bilderling – the family name of one of the previous owners.


The Fountain Hall again (the fountain’s in the background) – a perfect place for tea, isn’t it?


No comments. The Fountain Hall.

This mansion has seen some illustrious people in its lifetime, for example Nikolay Gogol used to frequent this house to teach one of the owners’ son. Also one of the descendants of Mikhail Kutuzov, the 1812 War with Napoleon general. The last owners before the October Revolution happened were the Bilderling family. And in the 1930s one of the residents was the Soviet actor Andrey Mironov‘s father. More info on this building can be found here (but only in Russian).

The food related detail, a curious one:  there was a warehouse for cheese stock held by merchant Vereshchagin, the brother of the famous Russian painter. He was the first in Russia to develop the mass cheese and butter production methods. I knew there should be something connected to food beyond the smell of potatoes at the ground level! : )

So here it is, the photo-story of the place. Glad I have had the chance to see it and even to work in this beauty for some time.



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