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The State Hermitage occupies six magnificent buildings situated along the embankment of the River Neva, right in the heart of St. Petersburg. The leading role in this unique architectural ensemble is played by the Winter Palace, the residence of the Russian tsars that was built to the design of Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli in 1754-62. This ensemble, formed in the 18th and 19th centuries, is extended by the eastern wing of the General Staff building, the Menshikov Palace and the recently constructed Repository. Put together throughout two centuries and a half, the Hermitage collections of works of art (over 3,000,000 items) present the development of world culture and art from the Stone Age to the 20th century.
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