Thursday, November 7, 2013

Smolny Cathedral

The convent began to be constructed during the reign of Elizaveta Petrovna "in honor and glory of our Lord on the site where Her Majesty’s palace stood called Smolny." Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli, the chief court architect, designed and supervised the construction between 1748 and 1762. Rastrelli failed to complete the cathedral’s interior finishing and it remained incomplete for many decades.

 The Cathedral remained incomplete for nearly 70 years and its condition increasingly deteriorated. Alarming cracks developed on its vaults, its high basements were flooded with water. The Dower Empress Maria Fedorovna, acting as the guardian of educational establishments often visited the Smolny Institute and was saddened to see it in derelict condition. It was she who suggested making it the cathedral of all educational establishments.

On July 20, 1835, Metropolitan Seraphim of Novgorod and St Petersburg consecrated the church in the name of the Resurrection of Christ. The northern chapel was dedicated to the righteous saint Elizabeth in memory of convent founder Empress Elizaveta Petrovna, and the southern one was devoted to St Mary Magdalene in memory of Empress Maria Fedorovna.

Smolny Cathedral was built in the Baroque style. Its walls, towers and domes abound with moldings and gilt details – lavish floral and foliate garlands, broken curve pediment and volutes. Two tier semicolumns and pilasters, elongated windows and doors emphasize the upward movement of the entire structure, which create a sense of weightlessness. 

The Smolny convent became Rastrelli’s highest achievement. In keeping with the Russian tradition of building monasteries on the waterfront, Rastrelli located the monastic complex on the bank of the River Neva. Its plan is a Greek cross centered on a five-domed cathedral rising to a height of 93 meters. Efforts to collect liturgical objects were the reason why the bells for the bell tower had been cast in Moscow, and Rastrelli had the iconostasis design finished. 

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St Nicholas Church

The Church of St Nicholas, known as the most famous Baroque church in Prague along the Lesser Town Square. There was three generations of  Baroque architects which worked on the church were Kryštof Dientzenhofer, Kilián Ignác Dientzenhofer and Anselmo Lurago. The Chapel of St Barbara was first built to that mass could be celebrated.The church has a central dome above the transept with also a massive nave with side chapels and an undulating vault. There is Triforium with is supported by the pillars in the span of the arcade.

 St Nicholas became the main parish church of the Lesser Town in 1775.Completed in 1710, the facade of the church is composed of waves of concave and convex forms to emphasize the trio of large gables over the elevated chancel and its characteristic copper and gilded statue of St Nicholas; sculptor Jan Bedřich Kohl.
In the interior architect Kilián Ignác Dientzenhofer demonstrated very well the Baroque style to emphasize the overall aesthetic effects. The interior is crowned by a play of light.The church ranks second only to St Vitus Cathedral in terms of the finest sacred architecture in Prague.
The artificial marble on the columns, pilasters and cornices was made by stucco master Johann Hennevogel von Ebenberg. Josef Hager’s painting Angels’ Homage to the Holy Trinity which are below the organ loft. The grand ceiling painting Apotheosis of St Nicholas is the work of Viennese painter Johann Lukas Kracker from 1761, as are the paintings in the Chapel of St John of Nepomuk and the altar painting of the Visitation of the Virgin Mary (1760) on the side altar in the end chapel beneath the dome.

The Jesuit Thomas Schwarz built the small and main organs as well as many others in Bohemia. Built in 1745-47, the main organ has over 4,000 pipes up to six metres in length. W. A. Mozart played this organ during his stay in Prague as a guest of the Dušeks.

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Jean Luca von Hildebrandt

Even though known as the foil to Fischer von Erlach, Jean Luca von Hildebrant (1668-1745) was treat as a well and prestige architect. His career started a year later than Erlach's which is how Hildebrant was able to make his own idiom.

Hildebrant could be described as genial, wordly, temperamental figure. Despite his training as a military engineer, he was a designer and a decorator. Many asked for his assistance on designs for already plans or existing buildings. He as also known for the ribbon-work ornament to Austria. The Schönborns, the Harrache, and Prince Eugene were a few who consulted Hildebrant for his opinion in the decor for their country and suburban houses.

Upper Belvedere, viewed as the center piece of a building composition suitable for a hero, began construction in the 18th century. The palace was a summer residence for the general Prince Eugene of Savoy. The palace is known to hold very valuable collectibles for example pieces of Franz Anton Maulbertsch, who was a Austrian painter. The building is well-known as one of the most impressive monuments of Baroque architecture.

The Palace has different rooms which were decorated using Baroque and Rococo techniques.

The Sala Terrena

The Carlone Hall

 The Marble Hall

Additional Sources: - Video