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Smolny Cathedral

Smolny Convent, located on Ploschad Rastrelli, on the bank of the River Neva in Saint Petersburg, consists of a Cathedral and a complex of buildings surrounding it, originally intended for a convent. Construction of the complex was begun as a Russian Orthodox monastery for nuns. It was built to house Elizabeth, the daughter of Peter the Great, after she was disallowed from succession to the throne and opted instead to become a nun. The stunning blue-and-white building of the Cathedral is considered to be one of the architectural masterpieces of the Italian architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli, who also created the Winter Palace, the Grand Catherine Palace in Tsarskoye Selo, the Grand Palace in Peterhof and many other major St. Petersburg landmarks. The Cathedral is the centerpiece of the convent. 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. The building was only finished 1835 by Vasily Stasov with the addition of a neo-classical interior to suit the changed architectural tastes of the day. Today, Smolny Cathedral is used primarily as a concert hall and the surrounding convent buildings house various offices and government institutions.

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