Smolny Cathedral

sights / Religious

Smolny Cathedral information

St Petersburg , Russia
pl Rastrelli 3/1
+7 812 577 1421
Getting there
Metro: Chernyshevskaya
adult/student/child R150/90/50, bell tower R100, general ticket R200
Opening hours
10.30am-6pm Thu-Tue
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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.