The state concert and exhibition hall "Smolny Cathedral"
is located in a former cathedral for all educational institutions.
It is the main building of an unique architectural ensemble,
the former Smolny Cathedral having been built by the architect
Francesco Bartholomeo Rastrelli. Nowadays it is under the aegis
When founding Saint-Petersburg Peter the Great designated an
area beyond the city boundaries for Smolny courtyard where resin
for shipbuilding was made. Not far from there in a magnificent
and picturesque place where the Neva river follows a grand bend
he built a small house which everyone called "Smolny Palace".
That is where Peter's daughter Elizabeth spent 10 years during
the reign of Anna Ioannovna.
From here she led the Preobrazhensky Regiment, which was to
dethrone the reigning infant Ioann Antonovich.
That night Elizabeth took an oath in front of the icon of Our
Christ the Saviour to build a convent in the name of the Resurrection
of Christ if she were to become Empress of Russia.
In 1748 the court architect Rastrelli began with the construction,
which, however, was not completed in Elizabeth's lifetime. The
Empress Catherine the Great decided to turn the unfinished Smolny
convent into an educational institution for girls resembling
Saint-Sire convent in the environs of Paris. The idea was a
success and soon Smolny Institute for girls from noble families
(most of whom were orphans) became famous worldwide as a model
education institution. The construction of Smolny Cathedral,
this marvelous building, was finished in 1835. It was blessed
as a cathedral for educational institutions in the name of the
Resurrection of Christ.
The October Revolution put an end to the Smolny Institute. In
the years of Soviet power the Institute as well as Smolny Cathedral
endured many changes, and in 1989 they were transformed into
a concert and exhibition hall. Within a short period of time
the hall became widely popular. A chamber choir was founded
under the auspices of Smolny Cathedral. Its repertoire is extensive
and diverse ranging from the works by the Russian and Western
composers to Russian folk songs. Parts of the choir's repertoire
are presented on a CD recorded in 1994. The choir will continue
with its recordings as they are very much sought after in St.-Petersburg
as well as at engagements abroad. Famous symphony and chamber
orchestras, renown vocalists and dancers as well as children
choirs appear in the wonderful white-pillared hall of Smolny
of chamber choirs have been conducted of which the 1st International
festival of boys' choirs was met with great jubilation. The
hall's concert activities made it famous in Russia and around
The exhibition space of Smolny cathedral (3000 m2) allows to
hold various kinds of exhibitions not only from the rich collections
of the famous St. Petersburg museums but also from the museums
and galleries of Europe. For the artists of our city it is particularly
prestigious to show their work in the hall of Smolny Cathedral,
as the combination of a concert and exhibition hall attracts
wider public and raises even more interest amongst the visitors.
Interesting excursions are held in the Smolny Cathedral. The
visitors are not only introduced to the history of this architectural
masterpiece but may also walk up the 68 m high belfry. It is
the highest observation point in St.-Petersburg. From here a
magnificent view unfolds onto Smolny convent and the entire
city in its splendor with its river, canals, the grand Neva
river, wonderful palaces and parks.
Address: Rastrelli Ploshad, 3, building 1 see map