Smolny Institute's Role in Russian History

The Smolny Institute in Russia is a very interesting tourist attraction for a number of reasons. For one, it was originally a school for girls. For another, it has played a major part in Russia’s history and has seen the likes of Lenin and Stalin. Its historical role started in 1917 when the building became the headquarters of the Petrograd Soviet which was dominated by the Bolsheviks. Thus, the Smolny Institute was the birthplace of the coup of October 1917 which resulted in the Revolution.

The building is built in the Palladian architectural style and is situated in St Petersburg. It was originally commissioned by the Society for Education of Noble Maidens at the urging of Ivan Betskoy and designed by Giacomo Quarengi. It was built between 1806 and 1808 and it took its name from the nearby Smolny Convent. It was here that young noble girls could go to learn to etiquette, cooking, sewing and various other skills which would they would need during the course of their lives. It served this noble role for just over a hundred years until the political scene of the country started to change radically.

In 1917 these ardent students were displaced when the Smolny Institute was chosen by Vladimir Lenin to serve as the Bolshevik headquarters. He used the building as his personal residence for quite a few months but eventually abandoned it when the national government was moved to the Kremlin in Moscow. Instead of allowing the building to be returned to its former use, it continued to be used for political purposes and served as the local Leningrad Party Headquarters. The Smolny Institute continued to be used as such until 1991, after which it became the office of the mayor of St Petersburg.

If you have time to tour the facility, you will be allowed to view Lenin’s bedroom and office, as well as the grand hall from which he delivered a number of speeches. There is a monument to Lenin in front of the building which was erected in 1927. You will also learn that the assassination of Sergei Kirov took place here in 1934 and that between 1991 and 1997, Vladimir Putin worked from here for the Anatoly Sobchak administration. This is truly a fascinating attraction that is worthy of your time.


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