Smolny Cathedral Map P

@ 271 9182; pi Rastrelli 3/1; adult/student R100/70; S 10am-8pm Thu-Tue; ® Chernyshevskaya

If baroque is your thing, then look no further than the sky-blue Smolny Cathedral, an unrivalled masterpiece of the genre that ranks among Bartolomeo Rastrelli's most amazing creations. The cathedral is the centrepiece of a convent mostly built to Rastrelli's designs between 1748 and 1757. His inspiration was to combine baroque details with the forest of towers and onion domes typical of an old Russian monastery. There's special genius in the proportions of the cathedral (it gives the impression of soaring upwards), to which the convent buildings are a perfect foil.

In stark contrast, the interior is a disappointingly austere plain white. At the time of research, the interior was closed for renovations to the cupola. But even when it is open, it serves as a concert hall or exhibi tion space, not as a working church (and indeed, there is not much to see inside).

If you wonder what you are paying for, it is to climb the 63m belfry - all 277 steps - for stupendous views over the city.

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