In the early forties of the 18th century inheritress of the Russian throne, Elizaveta The Great decided to spend the rest of her life in peace and quiet near a church. So, when she became the empress she ordered to build a church in place of “Smolny House”, the palace where she spent her youth. Francesco Rastrelli, an Italian architect was invited to be at the head of the building process.
The cathedral has five cupolas. Only the main dome refers directly to the cathedral itself, the rest are chapels. The building is almost a hundred meters tall, it is painted in white and Cambridge blue, all cupolas are grey. Architecture of Smolny Cathedral was planned so that when you approach it, the cathedral visually seems to be smaller but it does not lose any of its majesty. There was a 140-meter, 5-floor bell tower in the first project but because of a balance-of-payments deficit it was never built. However the actual building is rather tall, its height is 94 meters which is equal to three 9-floor apartment buildings that are placed one on the top of another. As opposed to others, Smolny Cathedral was never opened for worship. Since 1990, a concert hall has been working in the Cathedral.