In the 1740s Empress Elizabeth ordered the construction of a convent on the site of the Smolny House where she spent her younger years. Her original intention was to retire to the convent in her later years. The convent is centred around the elegant Smolny Cathedral which is dedicated to the Resurrection of Christ. Work on the cathedral started in 1746 but was halted due to the war with Prussia. It was designed by Bartolomeo Rastrelli in the Elizabethan baroque style, but the later stage of construction was overseen by Christian Knobel, although he had also died by the time the cathedral was finally completed in 1835. By this time Vasili Stasov was responsible for the work.
The cathedral is an example of a tower church with a tall central dome surrounded by four smaller domes on tall tholobates. The cathedral is surrounded on all sides with auxiliary buildings for the convent which were built in the same style as the cathedral and feature several towers. The resulting affect is an appearance of symmetry and harmony.
The Smolny Convent only functioned as a convent from 1744 until 1764, having been dissolved by Catherine the Great. However the cathedral remained open for worship up until 1931 when it was closed by the Bolsheviks. In 1990 the former cathedral was turned into a concert hall, which still functions today here. In addition the cathedral is open as a branch of the State Museum of St Isaac's Cathedral as part of the Museum of Four Cathedrals. The highlight of a visit to the museum is the views from the top of the tower, but to get there you have to climb lots of steps. Since 2010 services have also been occasionally held here.
The convent is located quite far from the nearest metro station of Chernyshevskaya. You can get there by walking north from the station and then turning left when you get to Ulitsa Shpalernaya - the convent is located at the end. Buses No. 22, 46 and 105 and trolley buses No. 5 and 15 run to Ploschad Rastrelli from near to Chernyshevskaya metro.
|Location||1 Ploschad Rastrelli|
|Clock||10:30 - 18:00. Closed on Wednesdays.|