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Smolny Convent

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Смольный собор

Smolny Convent in Saint Petersburg.

Smolny Convent or Smolny Convent of the Resurrection (Voskresensky), located on Ploschad Rastrelli, on the bank of the River Neva in Saint Petersburg, Russia, consists of a cathedral (sobor) and a complex of buildings surrounding it, originally intended for a convent. [1]

Construction on the complex begun as a Russian Orthodox monastery for nuns. It was built to house Elizabeth, the daughter of Peter the Great, after she was disallowed succession to the throne, when she opted instead to become a nun. However, as soon as her Imperial predecessor, Ivan VI, was overthrown during a coup d'état carried out by the royal guards in 1741, Elizabeth decided against entering monastic life and accepted the offer of the Russian throne. However, work on the convent continued with royal patronage. [2]

Смольный собор 2

Smolny Cathedral (Sobor).

The convent's main church (catholicon or sobor), 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 (Pushkin), the Grand Palace in Peterhof and many other major St. Petersburg landmarks. [3]

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.

Sankt Petersburg-Smolny Kloster und Universität 12

The smaller bell tower.

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.[3]

Today, Smolny Cathedral is used primarily as a concert hall and the surrounding convent buildings house various offices and government institutions.

The nearby Smolny Institute is named after the convent.

Okhta Center

Saint Petersburg governor Valentina Matviyenko has approved the building of a massive building complex including a supertall skyscraper measuring 403 meters in height opposite the Smolny cathedral in the historic city-centre, this despite widespread local and international protest. The building, called the Okhta Center is supposed to be a prestige project for the company Gazprom, it has drawn strong strong criticism from UNESCO, as the city is a World Heritage Site, the Hermitage, the Saint Petersburg Union of Architects, and other leading society groups.[4]

See also


  1. "Smolny". Voice of Russia. 2003. Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  2. Antonov, Boris (2006). Russian Tsars. Saint Petersburg: Ivan Fiorodov Art Publishers. p. 105. ISBN 5938931096. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Cathedral of the Smolny Convent". Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  4. Hermitage director joins outcry over city-centre skyscraper plan by Tom Parfitt, The Guardian, November 10, 2006.

External links

Coordinates: 59°56′55″N 30°23′42″E / 59.94861°N 30.395°E / 59.94861; 30.395ru:Смольный монастырь sv:Smolnyjklostret zh:斯莫尔尼大教堂

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