Tavrichesky (Tauride) Palace
It was built in 1783-1789 for Prince Grigory Potyomkin, Field Marshal and the favourite of Empress Catherine the Great. Prince Potyomkin owned the palace less than a year. In 1790 he sold it to the Treasury for 460,000 gold rubles. However, the Empress gave the palace back to the prince as a gift for his military merits. On 28 April, 1791 the ceremonial reception was held there. All the candle wax in the city was sold out! Three thousand people attended the reception – all the nobility of St.Petersburg.
In 1906, it became the seat of the Imperial State Duma, Russia's first parliament.
The Convention Hall of the first Russian parliament remembers such historic leaders as Nicolas II, P.Milykov, A. Kerensky and V.Lenin.
Nowadays the palace is the Headquarters of the Interparliamentary Assembly of the member states of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The Opening Ceremony of SPIMUN will be held in this historic place.
The luxurious mansion was built for Peter the Great’s associate Alexander Kikin.
Unfortunately, Kikin failed to live there for a long time: in 1718 he was executed. By the order of Peter I the Kunstkammer (“the chamber of curiousities”) – the first museum in Russia – was started there. The collection included coins and medals, anatomic preparations, botanic and zoological “rarities”, archeological artefacts. The Tzar himself used to show them to the nobility and foreign guests . However, common people were afraid of visiting the Kunstkammer. So, it was decided to treat each visitor either with a cup of coffee or a glass of vodka or wine. Bread and butter was served in addition.
One of the most amazing exhibits was “The Wax Figure of the Tzar” created after the death of Peter I by Carlo Bartolomeo Rastrelli.
Nowadays the Kikin’s Mansion houses the children’s musical lyceum.
Smolny Nunnery and Smolny Cathedral
The name "Smolny" derives from the location, in the early days of St. Petersburg the place at the edge of the city where pitch ("smola" in Russian) was processed for use in shipbuilding and maintenance. As a result the locale was called "smolny" - the place of pitch.
The daughter of Peter the Great Empress Elizaveta Petrovna made a decision to spend her old age in the peace of a nunnery. She ordered to build the nunnery for one hundred and twenty nuns and herself as their Mother Superior. The Smolny nunnery was built, but eventually, the Empress gave up her wish to become a nun.
The convent's main church, a blue-and-white building, is considered to be one of the architectural masterpieces of the Italian architect F. Rastrelli.
Later the Smolny Cathedral was consecrated as the cathedral of all educational institutions of St.Petersburg.