Smolny Convent

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Smolny Convent (Voskresensky) is a Russian Orthodox convent built to house Elizabeth, the daughter of Peter the Great. After she was disallowed succession to the throne, she opted to become a nun. However her Imperial predecessor, Ivan VI was overthrown during a coup d'état (carried out by the royal guards in 1741). Elizabeth then decided against entering monastic life and accepted the offer of the Russian throne and work on the convent continued with her royal patronage.

The convent's main church, a blue-and-white building, is considered to be one of the architectural masterpieces of the Italian architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli, who also redesigned the Winter Palace, and created the Grand Catherine Palace (Yekaterininsky) in Tsarskoye Selo, the Grand Palace in Peterhof and many other major St. Petersburg landmarks. The Cathedral is the centerpiece of the convent, built by Rastrelli between 1748 and 1764. The projected bell-tower was to become the tallest building in St. Petersburg and, at the time, all of Russia. Elizabeth's death in 1762 prevented Rastrelli from completing this grand design.

When Catherine II assumed the throne, it was found that the new Empress strongly disapproved of the baroque style, and funding that had supported the construction of the convent rapidly ran out. Rastrelli was unable to build the huge bell-tower he had planned and unable to finish the interior of the cathedral. The building was only finished in 1835 by Vasily Stasov with the addition of a neo-classical interior to suit the changed architectural tastes at the time. The Cathedral was consecrated on 22 July 1835; its main altar was dedicated to the Resurrection and the two side altars were dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene and Righteous Elizabeth. The church was closed by the Soviet authorities in 1923. It was looted and allowed to decay until 1982, when it became a Concert Hall.

Today, Smolny Cathedral is used primarily as a concert hall and the surrounding convent buildings house various offices and government institutions. In addition, the faculties of sociology, political science and international relations of the Saint Petersburg State University are located in some of the buildings surrounding the cathedral.

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Details

Founded: 1748-1764
Category: Religious sites in Russia

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

Rating

4.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Elizaveta Cherepanova (2 years ago)
Sobor is very beautiful inside. The central part was under renovation, but still there was a lot to see. Observation deck is needed to visit as well. It is better to go up there when there’s good visibility.
Ahmet İhsan Kaya (3 years ago)
The interior of the church is not so special but the design and ornaments of the building is ravishing. You can use the stairs inside the church to climb top of the building. It takes some effort but the view is worth it.
Vincent Oliver (5 years ago)
Truly a "wow" from afar and inside. Probably one of the most beautiful cathedrals I have seen with the calm blue exterior and the "pure" white ( and some gold) interior. The Cathedral was founded in 1748 by the empress Elizabeth Petrovna and was consecrated on July 20, 1835. There are scheduled visits to the belfry. Around the main cathedral are several other buildings that also served as a girls school. Definitely worth a visit.
Kirill Konstantinov (5 years ago)
If you’re interested in climbing up high to enjoy the city view then it’s better to visit Smolny Cathedral rather than Isakievsky. It’s 100 ₽ cheaper and they offer binoculars for free. A number of different stairs with extremely narrow cockle-stairs will definitely help you dive into good old times. Лучше посетить Смольный Собор, чем Исакиевский, если хотите подняться наверх. Здесь на 100 ₽ дешевле и предлагают бесплатный бинокль. Куча лестниц, а также очень узкая винтовая вас точно погрузят в старые добрые времена!
Oleg Naumov (6 years ago)
Monastery and Cathedral were built by Famous architect Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli (1700-1771). This is excellent example of Russian baroque. Cathedral is open for public.
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