Built by Giacomo Quarenghi between 1806 and 1808 as a school for aristocratic girls, the Smolny Institute was thrust into the limelight...
Tauride Palace & Gardens
Catherine the Great had this baroque palace built in 1783 for Grigory Potemkin, a famed general and her companion for many years of her...
Anna Akhmatova Monument
This moving statue of St Petersburg’s most famous 20th-century poet was unveiled in 2006, across the river from the notorious Kresty...
The beautiful Smolny Cathedral makes a great venue for classical concerts. While not as attractive as some of the other concert halls in...
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pl Rastrelli 3/1 · interesting places nearby
Smolny Cathedral information
If baroque is your thing, then look no further than the sky-blue Smolny Cathedral, an unrivalled masterpiece of the genre that ranks among Bartolomeo Rastrelli’s most amazing creations. The cathedral is the centrepiece of a convent mostly built to Rastrelli’s designs between 1748 and 1757. His inspiration was to combine baroque details with the forest of towers and onion domes typical of an old Russian monastery. There’s special genius in the proportions of the cathedral (it gives the impression of soaring upwards), to which the convent buildings are a perfect foil.
In stark contrast, the interior is a disappointingly austere plain white as Rastrelli fell from favour before he was able to begin work on it. Today the cathedral is no longer a working church, but serves instead as a concert hall and exhibition space. If you’re lucky there may well be rehearsals for concerts going on while you visit, to which you’re welcome to listen, otherwise it’s not really worth paying to enter the cathedral itself.
However, it’s definitely worth paying to climb the 277 steps to one (or both) of the two 63m-high bell towers for stupendous views over the city.