Smolny Convent was commissioned as a monastery to house Peter the Great’s daughter. Instead of becoming a nun, Elizabeth became the empress of Russia in 1741. Smolny Cathedral is the 307 foot centerpiece of the large complex. The Russian Orthodox church is the exquisite work of Italian architect Francesco Rastrelli. He designed several opulent landmarks in Saint Petersburg for Empress Anna and Empress Elizabeth during the mid-18th century. Construction began in 1749. Although the exterior was finished in 1764, the interior was not completed until 1835. In 1982, this blue and white masterpiece behind the springtime tulips became a concert hall. Some of the other buildings house classes for Saint Petersburg State University.