These two churches, Smolny Cathedral and Chesme Church, were both in my PC favorites wall and is easy to understand why. They are so beautiful! I really love these cards, sent by Gennady.
Smolny Cathedral was originally intended to be the central church of a monastery, built to house the daughter of Peter the Great, Elizabeth, after she was disallowed to take the throne and opted instead to become a nun. However, as soon as her Imperial predecessor was overthrown during a coup, carried out by the royal guards, Elizabeth decided to forget the whole idea of a stern monastic life and happily accepted the offer of the Russian throne.
Smolny Cathedral’s stunning blue-and-white building is undoubtedly one of the architectural masterpieces of the Italian architect Rastrelli. It was built between 1748 and 1764.
When Elizabeth stepped down from the throne the funding that had supported the constructed of the convent rapidly ran out and Rastrelli was unable to build the huge bell-tower he had planned or finish the interior of the cathedral. The building was only finished 1835 with the addition of a neo-classical interior to suit the changed architectural tastes of the day.
Today Smolny Cathedral is used primarily as a concert hall and the surrounding convent houses various offices and government institutions. - in: http://www.saint-petersburg.com/virtual-tour/smolny-cathedral/
This fairytale gothic church is one of St. Petersburg's most unusual and most delightful, although it is a little off the beaten track for most tourists. Located in the far south of the city, it was built under Catherine the Great as the house church for the Chesme Palace, a resting post between St. Petersburg and the Summer Palace in Tsarskoe Selo.
The Chesme Church was consecrated in 1780, on the tenth anniversary of Russia's naval victory over the Turkish fleet at Chesme Bay, which occurred on the birthday of John the Baptist, hence the church's name.
A wedding-cake structure with striped crenellated walls and five gothic turrets in place of traditional onion domes, this truly unique church has survived almost fully intact to this day, despite the fact that it was turned, along with the Chesme Palace, into part of a forced labour camp by the Soviet government - the cross on the central turret was replaced with a hammer, tongs and anvil to symbolize the toil of the proletariat. Just before the Second World War, the complex was given over to the Institute of Aviation Technology, which still occupies the palace to this day.
Used as a burial site for war heroes almost since its consecration, the area around the church became a graveyard for soldiers who died during the Siege of Leningrad. In the 1970s, the church became a Museum of the Battle of Chesme, and was eventually returned to the Orthodox Church in 1990. It is now an extremely popular church, with regular services and numerous visitors who come to pay their respects to the war dead. - in: http://www.saint-petersburg.com/churches/church-birth-saint-john-baptist-chesme.asp