The Winter Palace was built between 1754 and 1762 for Empress Elizabeth, the daughter of Peter the Great. Unfortunately, Elizabeth died before the palace’s completion and only Catherine the Great and her successors were able to enjoy the sumptuous interiors of Elizabeth’s home. Many of the palace’s impressive interiors have been remodeled since then, particularly after 1837, when a huge fire destroyed most of the building. Today the Winter Palace, together with four more buildings arranged side by side along the river embankment, houses the extensive collections of the Hermitage. The Hermitage Museum is the largest art gallery in Russia and is among the largest and most respected art museums in the world.
The museum was founded in 1764 when Catherine the Great purchased a collection of 255 paintings from the German city of Berlin. Today, the Hermitage boasts over 2.7 million exhibits and displays a diverse range of art and artifacts from all over the world and from throughout history (from Ancient Egypt to the early 20th century Europe). The Hermitage’s collections include works by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and Titian, a unique collection of Rembrandts and Rubens, many French Impressionist works by Renoir, Cezanne, Manet, Monet and Pissarro, numerous canvasses by Van Gogh, Matisse, Gaugin and several sculptures by Rodin. The collection is both enormous and diverse and is an essential stop for all those interested in art and history.References:
The Walled City of Jajce is a medieval fortified nucleus of Jajce in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with citadel high above town on top of pyramidal-shaped steep hill, enclosed with approximately 1,300 metres long defensive walls,. It is one of the best preserved fortified capitals of the Bosnian Kingdom, the last stronghold before the kingdom dissolved under the pressure of military advancement at the onset of Ottoman Empire takeover.
The entire complex of the Walled city of Jajce, with the citadel, city ramparts, watchtower Medvjed-kula, and two main city gate-towers lies on the southern slope of a large rocky pyramid at the confluence of the rivers Pliva and Vrbas, enclosed by these rivers from the south-southwest, with the bed of the Pliva, and east-southeast by the river Vrbas gorge.
The fortress was built by Hrvoje Vukčić Hrvatinić, the founder of Jajce. However, the city became the seat of the Bosnian kings, hence the royal coat of arms decoration on the citadel entrance. A part of the wall was built by the Hungarian King, while the Ottomans erected the powder magazine. The walls are high and the castle was built on a hill that is egg shaped, the rivers Pliva and Vrbas also protect the castle. There is no rampart on the south and west.
Jajce was first built in the 14th century and served as the capital of the independent Kingdom of Bosnia during its time. The town has gates as fortifications, as well as a castle with walls which lead to the various gates around the town. About 10–20 kilometres from Jajce lies the Komotin Castle and town area which is older but smaller than Jajce. It is believed the town of Jajce was previously Komotin but was moved after the Black Death.
The first reference to the name of Jajce in written sources is from the year 1396, but the fortress had already existed by then. Jajce was the residence of the last Bosnian king Stjepan Tomasevic; the Ottomans besieged the town and executed him, but held it only for six months, before the Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus seized it at the siege of Jajce and established the Banovina of Jajce.
Skenderbeg Mihajlović besieged Jajce in 1501, but without success because he was defeated by Ivaniš Korvin assisted by Zrinski, Frankopan, Karlović and Cubor.
During this period, Queen Catherine restored the Saint Mary"s Church in Jajce, today the oldest church in town. Eventually, in 1527, Jajce became the last Bosnian town to fall to Ottoman rule. The town then lost its strategic importance, as the border moved further north and west.
Jajce passed with the rest of Bosnia and Herzegovina under the administration of Austria-Hungary in 1878. The Franciscan monastery of Saint Luke was completed in 1885.
The Walled city of Jajce is located at the confluence of the Pliva and Vrbas rivers. It was founded and started developing in the Middle Ages and acquired its final form during the Ottoman period. There are several churches and mosques built in different times during different rules, making Jajce a rather diverse town in this aspect. It is declared National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and, as the old Jajce city core, including the waterfall, and other individual sites outside the walled city perimeter, such as the Jajce Mithraeum, it is designated as The natural and architectural ensemble of Jajce and proposed as such for inscription into the UNESCO"s World Heritage Site list. The bid for inscription is currently placed on the UNESCO Tentative list.