Ensemble of Smolny Cathedral

Ensemble of Smolny Cathedral

Address: Proletarskoy Diktatury Square (Ploschad)
Nearest metro station: Chernyshevskaya


Open: 10.00 am – 5.30 pm

Closed: Wednesdays



One of the most beautiful cathedrals of the city is Smolny Cathedral which ensemble is splendidly placed on the bank of the river Neva a bit away from the historical centre of the city. Originally the Cathedral was built opposite the Swedish fortress of 17th century Nienschanz Fortress, and latter allotted for the tar-yard which was highly required of the Admiralty.  

Middle of the 18th century is a time when the Smolny ensemble was started, and first buildings appreared. The Resurrection Novodevichiy Convent, most widely known as the Smolny Convent was the centre of the ensemble and the first building that was constructed. It was followed by the Alexandrovsky Boarding school for girls - a respectable place where daughters of middle-class families were educated. 

When the communists came into power in 1917 the Smolny Broading School became the revolutionary main office. Lenin resided here when upheaval took place, and on 25 Oct powers of Bolshevik government with Lenin were confirmed in its Hall of Acts. It continued being the place where all main decisions were taken till March 1918. 


The cathedral is the center piece of a convent built mostly to Rastrelli's designs in 1748-57. His design splendidly combines baroque details with onion domes which were significant for Old Russian monastery. An interesting impression of soaring upwards which the Cathedral gives is also a discovery of Rastrelli; the proportions of the building are so that the spectaculars feel it's soaring upwards when it's really perfectly foil. 


The building was finished by Vasily Stasov in 1835. The most ambitious part of Rastrelli’s design, a 140-metre-high tiered belfry over the main entrance, was shelved due to lack of funding, but also to the fact that, as the highest structure in the city, it would have caused offence in certain quarters. Its five domes can be seen in fine weather from Vasilievsky Island. This cathedral is a vivid example of the advanced Baroque Style.

On 22 Jul 1835 the Cathedral was consecrated to allow almost 6000 people to gather inside and impressing by the side altar of St Mary Magdalene. In the beginning of 20th century the Cathedral became a congrefational church, and in 1923 it was closed as a church. 


At present Smolny Cathedral is not a church, but it's perfect acoustics made it a beloved place for conserts of classic music, and an observation point at the top of it is also the highest one in St Petersburg which ensures a great view over the city. 




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