Why visit Smolny Cathedral in St. Petersburg

Visiting the Smolny Cathedral in St. Petersburg is an opportunity to see one of the most emblematic buildings in the city. Knowing the Smolny Convent in St. Petersburg is a unique opportunity to appreciate not only its beauty but history. Knowing the Smolny Cathedral in St. Petersburg is ideal for you.

If you plan to visit the Smolny Cathedral in St. Petersburg, you should know that the beginning of the construction of the Smolny Cathedral in St. Petersburg begins in the year 1740, when the daughter of Peter the Great ordered to build a monastery on the site of the “House Smolny “, the palace where the Empress lived when she was young.

The monastery complex should include a temple with churches, a bell tower, and also an institute for girls from noble families. The architect of the cathedral was the famous Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli. The solemn ceremony of the beginning of the construction of the cathedral took place on October 30, 1748. From 1749 the work was supervised by Christian Knobel: an architect who worked with Rastrelli. In 1751 all the preparations were finished and the base of the cathedral was laid. The construction of the cathedral began.

But by the beginning of the war with Prussia, which did not allow to spend a lot of money on constructions of this type, jobs were moving very slowly. The expected inauguration of the Smolny Institute took place on June 27, 1764, the cathedral was finally completed by the architect Stasov only in 1835.


Smolny Russian Revolution

To know the Smolny Convent in St. Petersburg, you have to take a bit of its history. In October 1917 Smolny survives the Russian revolution. The Smolny Institute of Noble Maidens was transferred to Novocherkassk; and the Petrograd Military Revolutionary Committee begins preparation for the Bolshevik Revolution.

Before moving the capital of Russia to Moscow; Smolny served as the seat of the Bolshevik government and personally of Lenin. In November 1917; Here the Congress of the Soviets of Russia was organized where they passed the decrees on peace and land.

To show the importance of the Smolny Institute as the cradle of the Russian revolution, the territory around the cathedral was renovated; the entrance was decorated with propileos; the monument to Lenin was established in 1927, and to Marx and Engels in 1932.

Since the beginning of 1918, in the building there is the office of the City Hall of Leningrad and the city committee of the Communist Party (until 1991).

Smolny Cathedral was closed in 1931, but the decision to close it was decided eight years earlier; in 1923. A year before the decision was made, on April 20, 1922, all church property was rescued. However, the cathedral’s iconostasis was dismantled much later, only in 1972. In the 70s and 80s of the 20th century, the building became part of the Leningrad State History Museum. In the 90s, here they opened the complex to give concerts and make exhibitions; which is found here today.

He has been here for a long time, on the site of the monastery and the Smolny Cathedral, it was the village of Novsgorod of Spassovschina. When the Swedes built the Nyenschanz fortress on the opposite shore, Fort Sabina was built here. After the founding of St. Petersburg, this place was reserved for Smolny Dvor, where they stored tar and cooked tar for the needs of the Admiralty Shipyard. Then the name “Smolny” was assigned to this place.

Shortly before his 40th birthday, Empress Elizaveta Petrovna decided to end her days in the peace and quiet of the monastery. She was ordered to build a monastery for one hundred and twenty girls from noble families, and herself, as her future abbess. For each person, he was ordered to provide a separate apartment with a service room, a pantry for supplies and a kitchen. For me, a separate house.

The place for the Empress monastery was not chosen by chance. During the reign of Anna Ioannovna, the Smolny Palace was here, where the young Isabel was installed. Thanks to this, the palace was also called Maiden.

The project of the Novodevichy Resurrection Convent in 1744 was entrusted to the architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli [2, p. 72]. The monastery complex was formed by the cathedral’s architect and the two-story residential buildings located around it. The architect decided to create a new type of monastery complex for Russia. Instead of fortress walls, which had previously surrounded such cloisters, he placed stucco walls and vases. As a dominant feature: a bell tower high above the entrance door, which was supposed to be taller than the Peter and Paul Cathedral bell tower, 140 meters.

In his diary, architect Stasov noted:

“The character of the buildings made by Count Rastrelli is always great, in general and in parts it is often daring, elegant (elegant), always agrees with the location and expresses precisely its purpose, because the internal structure is exceedingly convenient , as evidenced by many produced by him as in St. Petersburg and its surroundings, and according to his projects in different places in Russia, it is, in general, distinctive, is not loaded at that time with multiple shelves and private decorations “

Smolny Cathedral was built longer than all buildings in St. Petersburg: 87 years. The church hall with a capacity for 6,000 people was decorated with marble. The altar was separated by a glass balustrade. The image of the altar, now stored in the Russian Museum, was created by artist Alexei Venetsianov. The bell tower was never built.

In 1923, the Smolny Cathedral was closed and began to be used as a warehouse. In 1972, the iconostasis was removed, all ownership was transferred to museums. In 1974, a branch of the Leningrad History Museum was opened in the cathedral. In 1990, a concert and exhibition complex was opened here.

Convent Smolny schedule

The Cathedral is open every day from 7:00 to 20:00

Smolny location

Smolny Cathedral is a significant distance from the metro stations.

The road from the underground station “Chernyshevskaya” or “Ploshchad Vosstaniya” will take approximately 30 minutes. Therefore, we recommend using public transport to reach the Smolny Convent:

from the metro station “Chernyshevskaya” you can take buses 46, 22, tram 15;

from the metro station “Ploshchad Vosstaniya”: bus 22, trams 5, 7.

Knowing the Smolny Cathedral in St. Petersburg during your vacation is essential to appreciate a little of how beautiful Russia is.