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The Smolny CathedralThe Smolny Cathedral was meant to be the main church of a convent to house Elisabeth, daughter of Peter the Great, who had been banned from ruling the country and therefore decided to become a nun. But as soon as her predecessor was overthrown during a coup carried out by the royal guards, she decided to forget the whole idea of a stern monastic life and happily accepted the offer of the Russian throne. The blue and white Smolny Cathedral is one of the most fabulous works of Bartolomeo Rastrelli (the creator of the Winter Palace, the Grand Catherine Palace in Pushkin, the Grand Palace in Peterhof, and other major landmarks). The cathedral is the centerpiece of the convent, built by Rastrelli in 1748-64. When Elisabeth's reign came to a close, the funding for the convent had quickly ran out, so Rastrelli was unable to build a huge bell-tower that was planned and to finish the interior of the Cathedral. The building was finished only in 1832-35.

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