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gold collection in the treasure room in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg

I have read that the treasure room of the Hermitage requires a special ticket and/or a guide. My husband and I will be visiting in early July and would really like to see the treasure room, but are afraid the tickets might be sold out, or that we need to get a guide. If you've been to St. Petersburg recently and visited the treasure room, can you tell me what you needed to do to get in? Thanks!

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There are two "treasure rooms" in the Hermitage: The Diamond Room highlights jewels and the Gold Room highlights gold pieces, especially Scythian gold. Both require a special ticket and your admittance is with a small group with a guide.

I went in low season - April 2012. There were no line-ups to buy tickets to get in. Once past the ticket booth at the entrance, there is another desk in the lobby where you can buy a scheduled entrance to either of these special exhibits. There are several time slots, with different language guided tour options. I suspect that the outside lines in July would be very busy, just to enter, and that spots would go very fast for the Diamond and Gold Room tickets

I did not get the impression that these tickets can be booked in advance for individuals, but I could be wrong about this. I ended up joining a German language group for the Gold Room tour. Although I didn't understand any of the commentary, I got to stay within 'eyeball' distance of the guide and had enough time to really appreciate the pieces on display.

For the Diamond Room, I was with an English-speaking tour and, frankly, I don't remember any of the guide's commentary at all. Even in low season, I had to be flexible as far as the availability of the slots that I could get.

I spread my visit over two days, by buying a "Two Day Entrance Ticket" online. I had to exchange my voucher at the entrance booth and I think that, in the busy season, there is a shorter line for voucher holders.

It's entirely a matter of preference for choosing one over the other. There was a greater diversity of objects in the Diamond Room, but the Scythian Gold entranced me.

The Gold Room is down a further corridor from the main part of the Hermitage. On my way back, I detoured into a side gallery and was alone in visiting several rooms with very unique items from Altaic nomad burial mounds (Steppes). Stuff I had never come across before - superbly preserved for over 2,000 years plus (fully dressed horse mummies, very fine wool and leather items, etc.). Despite being a history buff, I was completely ignorant of the rich ancient civilizations from this part of the world.