St. Petersburg - from Smolney Monastery to the Transfiguaration Cathedral

JUL 05,2015 - JUL 05,2015 (1 DAYS)

Russian Federation

1 DAYS

Citywalk

From Smolney Monastery to the Transfiguaration Cathedral:

Duration: 1/2 day. Distance: 5 km. Weather: this route is mainly in open spaces. So, avoid rainy and/or windy days.

Start: Smolney Convent (access by buses only).

End: Chernyshevskaya Metro station (Red Line #1).

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Public Transportaion: Buses 5, 11, 46, 54, 74, 136, 181, K-15, K-76, K-136. No close-by Metro.

The Smolney complex resides on Ploschad Rastrelli, in the north-east corner of St. Petersburg main land, south and west to the Neva river - just a few tens of metres from its tight curve and banks. The complex consists of a cathedral and a complex of buildings surrounding it, originally intended for a convent. The surrounding buildings (except of the cathedral) house various offices and government institutions. In addition, several faculties  of the St. Petersburg State University are located in some of the buildings surrounding the cathedral. The Smolney site is rarely visited by foreign tourists. Due to its location away from the downtown and heavy traffic around it is often not included into city tours.

The Smolney complex was planned by the Empress Elizabeth (daughter of Peter the Great) to include a convent and a new, aristocratic school for girls.She was rejected succeeding Peter the Great and opted for living in a nunnery. After murdering (in 1741) the official imperial successor (Ivan IV) with the aid of the imperial guards and succeeding the imperial throne - Elizabeth left behind the idea of monastic life - but pushed forward, enthusiastically, the work on Smolney convent. The complex construction began in year 1748, and was partially completed 13 years later, in year 1761.  Tsarina Elizabeth died in 1761 and work on the monastery was halted. 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. So, Rastrelli left Russia in October 1763 - without completing his original Smolney plan and project.  In 1832, Tsar Nicholas I commissioned Vasily Stasov to finish the building. Construction was officially completed in 1835.

Smolney Cathedral is the main highlight in the Smolney complex. It was designed by our already well-known Italian architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli. Rastrelli was invited to Russia by Peter the Great, and it was Rastrelli who designed so many masterpieces in St. Petersburg like the Winter Palace, the Grand Palace in Peterhof and the palace at Tsarskoe Selo. Smolny Cathedral was one of the latest Rastrelli projects. Rastrelli didn't complete the design of Smolney Cathedral and left it - unfinished. After the Bolshevik revolution, the cathedral suffered from disrepair, looting, closures and decaying. In 1923 it was officially closed. In 1972, the cathedral's iconostasis was taken out. During the 1970s the cathedral became a city museum  - hosting  exhibitions and concerts. The Smolney Cathedral functions from year 1982 till today, as a concert hall. This building is not an active worshiping place (religious services - in the side chapel).

The Smolney Cathedral is one of the most beautiful churches in St. Petersburg. The  blue-and-white building with its golden dazzling coupolas, is considered to be one of the architectural masterpieces of the Italian architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli. Its special location, rising majestically from the waterside banks of the Neva River - adds to its grandeur. Try to catch a view of the whole complex from the eastern side, from the Neva river bank.

Opening hours: daily 11.00 to 19.00. Closed: Wednesdays. Prices: Permanent Exhibition: 150 RUB. Ascent to the  Bell tower: 100 RUB. Joint ticket: 200 RUB. Photo and video: included and allowed.

Note: Skip visiting the interiors. Interior is very plain because it was left unfinished by Rastrelli and then stripped out. You might face, also, an extensive restoration and construction works around. So, please expect that the cathedral is partially closed or has restrictions on entry to the various halls inside. You might face the cathedral completely enclosed in scaffolding. We recommend ascending (270 steps) the bell tower - for the spectacular views of St. Petersburg, the Neva river and, mainly, the Smolney complex around. Free binoculars are available. It looks wonderful from the heights of the tower - with the washed white and blue colours and the golden spires. Please pay the special fee (100 RUB) for the marvelous views in a bright day and the feeling of being alone. Fortunately, there are not so many tourists around. Recommended are also the concerts during several evenings / month with good acoustics.

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Citywalk in , Russian Federation, visiting things to do in Russian Federation, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Russian Federation, visiting things to do in Russian Federation, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Russian Federation, visiting things to do in Russian Federation, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

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Citywalk in , Russian Federation, visiting things to do in Russian Federation, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Russian Federation, visiting things to do in Russian Federation, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Russian Federation, visiting things to do in Russian Federation, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Russian Federation, visiting things to do in Russian Federation, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Russian Federation, visiting things to do in Russian Federation, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Russian Federation, visiting things to do in Russian Federation, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Russian Federation, visiting things to do in Russian Federation, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Russian Federation, visiting things to do in Russian Federation, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

The Smolny Institute (Смольный институт, Smol'niy institut) is a Neo-Classical-style masterpiece that has played a major part in the history of Russia. The building was designed by Giacomo Quarenghi, with a decree of Catherine II (the Great) in 1764, a significant step in making education available for females in Russia, in purpose to accommodate the Society for Education of Noble Maidens  in 1806–08. The Smolny Institute was Russia's first educational establishment for women and continued to function under the personal patronage of the Russian Imperial Tsarinas until just before the 1917 revolution. In 1917, the building was chosen by Vladimir Lenin as Bolshevik headquarters during the October Revolution. It was Lenin's residence for several months, until the national government was moved to the Moscow Kremlin. Then it became the Communist city hall. In 1927, a monument to Lenin was erected in front of the building. Here, was assassinated, in Dec. 1934, Sergei Kirov, the head of the Communist part in St. Petersburg (then, Leningrad). After 1991, the Smolny was used as the seat of the city mayor (governor after 1996) and city administration. Vladimir Putin worked there from 1991 to 1997.

Today, this historic building is the official residence of the governor of St.Peterburg and also houses a museum dedicated to Lenin. Visitors to the museum can tour Lenin's office and living rooms and even see the famous assembly hall, where the upheaval of the Tsar and victory of the October revolution were proclaimed in 1917.

It borrows its name from the nearby Smolny Convent. The name "Smolny" derives from the location, in the early days of St. Petersburg the place at the edge of the city where pitch ("Smola" in Russian) was processed for use in shipbuilding and maintenance. As reminiscence of this pitch - nice garden with fountains, flower-beds and iron-work grille around the institute date from the early 19th century and leads to the institute:

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Head northwest on Rastrelli Square (пл. Растрелли), 90 m. Here, in this square - there's a good chance you'll meet several vendors (mostly, from the past Soviet republics) selling Russian souvenirs with attractive prices and good quality. Turn right onto u. Proletarskoy Diktatury (ул. Пролетарской Диктатуры), 200 m. Continue onto Tavricheskiy pereulok (пер. Таврический), 180 m - all in all 520 m. (10 min. easy walk). When you arrive to the Tavrid Garden - turn LEFT (SOUTH). On your left is a long building in #31-35 with decoratively grilled balconies:

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Walk 200 m. further south and turn right to the main entrance of Tauride (Tavrichesky) Garden (sad). A splendid, pleasant, well-maintained and quiet garden. VERY refreshing and refueling site:

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Citywalk in , Russian Federation, visiting things to do in Russian Federation, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

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Note: No way from the Tauride Garden to the Tauride Palace. You have to exit the park and enter the palace from the outside north side of the garden / southern aspect of the palace.

Tauride Palace (Tavrichesky dvorets, Таврический дворе, 47, Shpalernaya Ulitsa,  was designed by the architect, Ivan Starov for city for city residence of Prince Grigory Potemkin of Tauride (tsarina Catherine Chief of Army and her lover). The design included an extensive park and harbour in front of the palace, which would be linked with the Neva River by a canal (like the Peterhof model). Building work began in 1783 and lasted for six years. Potemkinplayed a key role in the annexation of the Crimea, for which he was awarded the title "Prince of Tauris". Shortly before his death, on 28 April 1791, Potemkin used the palace to host unprecedented festivities and illuminations with the purpose of winning the Empress's waning affections. Notwithstanding all the expenses, Potemkin failed in his efforts and lost Catherine the Great sole sympathy. Tauride Palace is the grandest high-ranking-noblemen residence of 18th-century Russia,  served as a model for innumerable manors scattered across the Russian Empire. After Potemkin's death,  Catherine the Great purchased his palace and ordered architect Fyodor Volkov to transform it into her summer townhouse. Volkov was responsible also for: the construction of the theatre in the east wing and the church in the west wing. In the garden, design of the Admiralty Pavilion, gardener house, orangery, glass-houses, bridges, and ironwork fences. The sculpture named the Venus Tauride (now in the Hermitage Museum) was kept in the palace from the end of the eighteenth century until the mid-nineteenth, and derives its name from it. The exterior appearance of the palace was rather plain and contrasted sharply with the luxury of its interiors. The domed hall, one of the largest in Russia, was connected by a 75-meter-long columned gallery with a winter garden. The decoration sof every major room – including the Chinese Hall and the Tapestry Gallery – were destroyed after 1799, when Emperor Paul, who denied all the things his mother (Tsarina Catherine) liked, gave over the palace to his cavalry regiment to be used as barracks - and some of the original interiors were lost for ever. In the 19th century, the palace was refurbished by Carlo Rossi and Vasily Stasov. It had been used to host balls and exhibitions until 1906, when it was transformed into the seat of the first Russian parliament, the Imperial State Duma. Immediately after the February Revolution of 1917, Tauride Palace housed the Provisional Government and the Petrograd Soviet. In May 1918 the Bolsheviks held here their 7th Congress, where they first named themselves the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks). Since the 1990s, Tauride Palace has been home to the Assembly of the Soviet Union Member Nations or the Soviet Commonwealth countries. Nowadays, the complex holds city and national conferences and congresses. IT IS NOT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. VISITS INSIDE ALLOWED ONLY WITH CONDUCTED EXCURSIONS. YOU MUST HANDLE ID DOCUMENT (LIKE PASSPORT WITH UPDATED PICTURE). STRICT CHECK-IN AND SECURITY PROCEDURES.  LIMITED PERMISSIONS (mainly, for VIP) FOR FOREIGN VISITORS ENTRIES.

The Tauride Palace is a splendid example of Classicism, the main trend in the Russian architecture in the late 18th and early 19th centuries: the strict modest lines of the southern façade (from Shpalernaya street direction), the use of the elements of ancient architecture, and, in particular and the huge pillars supporting the portico:

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We exit the Tauride Garden from its most southern exit and turn right (WEST) onto Kirochnaya pr. (ул. Кирочная), 1100 m (1.1km.). Along this road you can see several interesting (even Art - Nouveau) buildings:

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The Ratkov-Rozhnov Apartment House - a huge building with a magnificent facade occupying half a block on Kirochnaya Ulitsa close to Tavrichesky Sad (the Tauride Garden) designed by the architect Count Pavel Suzor (who designed and constructed the   Singer Building (Dom Knigi) on Nevsky Prospekt and the First Mutual Credit Society Building on the Griboedov Canal):

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Turn left onto Radishcheva per. (пер. Радищева), 80 m. Turn right onto Manezhnyy per. (пер. Манежный), 15 m and continue along the roundabout of Manezhnyy per., 150 m. You arrive to the Transfiguartion Cathedral (Spaso-Preobrazhensky sobor), Preobrazhenskaya ploshchad', 1. We arrived to a beautiful, quiet and leafy square. The Transfiguration Cathedral is an intimate church although it owns a monumental classical facade. It is  also known as Eastern Orthodox cathedral, is located on Transfiguration Square. It was designed by architect Mikhail Zemtsov and built from 1743 to 1754 by Tsarina Elizabeth. After her accession to the throne on December 7, 1741, the new Empress Elizabeth ordered the construction of a church on the site as a sign of gratitude for the cooperation of the local guards - which helped her making the coup d'etat. Construction work began on the church on June 9, 1743. The architect Mikhail Zemtsov was commissioned to design and build the church, but after his sudden death in 1743 Antonio Trezzini actually carried out the construction. The church was consecrated and declared a cathedral by order of Empress Elizabeth on August 5, 1754. The church almost burnt down on August 8, 1825, but the icons and iconostases were rescued. The architect Vasily Stasov was assigned the job of building a new church on the site. Construction on the Transfiguration Cathedral began in 1827, and was completed quickly. The new church was consecrated on August 5, 1829. Unlike most other churches in the city after the revolution, the cathedral never closed, and today remains one of the most visited cathedrals in the city.

It houses the Preobrazhensky regimental (Transfiguration Regiment) relics and war trophies. The fence surrounding the church was In 1831 and was created of Turkish cannons taken as spoils of war (in each of them one can see the symbol of the Ottoman empire). On the walls are bronze plaques with the names of officers of the Preobrazhensky regiment (which was accommodated in this district for hundreds of years) fallen in the Russia-Turkey battles (under the regime of Catherine the Great). The church has a world-reputed choir. It sings every day at 10.00.

Enclosure fence consists of captured Ottoman guns, bound in chains:

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Bartolomeo Rastrelli was also actively involved in the construction of the cathedral as well as the furnishing of its interior, designing the outstanding gold iconostasis of the cathedral and the altar vestibule.  under glass are the Preobrazhensky uniforms of Alexander I, Nicholas I, and Alexander II.

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Icon of the Saviour:

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