Smolenskoye Cemetery in the Vasilyevsky Island was established in 1756 to the decree issued by the Senate, but there is evidence of burials that took place at this site earlier.
The Cemetery must have got it name after the church dedicated to the Icon of our Lady of Smolensk had been built in 1790. From the 18th century Smolenskoye cemetery has served as a burial ground for both common citizens and prominent public figures. Academy of Sciences, Academy of Fine Arts, Alexandrinsky and Mariinsky theater, St. Petersburg University – all had their special plots at the cemetery. Until Revolution of 1917 this cemetery used to be one of the country’s largest burial ground – by the early 20th century there were about seven to eight hundred thousand graves here.
Smolenskoye Cemetery has always been known for its charity work. In 19th century it maintained an orphanage and a widow-house for the families of priests, a church school and an orphanage for the children whose parents perished during the Russian-Japanese war.
The new Soviet authorities had planned to demolish Smolenskoye Cemetery. Many graves of famous artists, actors and writers were then removed to other cemeteries in the city. The grave of a well-known Russian poet Alexander Block, for example, was moved to Literatorskiye mostki.
At present one may still find at Smolenskoye Cemetery tombs of the scientist Semyonov Tan’-Shansky, artist Makovsky, vice-admiral Nakhimov. But the cemetery is most valued and respected by the citizens for the tomb of St. Blessed Xenia, one of the patron saints of the city who lived in St. Petersburg in the late 18th century and was thought to be a fool for Christ and a miracle-maker during her life-time. She also helped to build the church of Our Lady of Smolensk and was buried at the cemetery. In 1902 a chapel was built on the site.
The chapel was frequented by the believers even during the Soviet period. It was under the city’s siege only, when the chapel was locked, that the people chose a different place to adore – a family tomb with a mosaic depicting an image of Christ. In the late 1980-s St. Xenia’s chapel was restored and dedicated anew. And recently the Orthodox church together with the Association of Funeral Business have restored the tomb that served as a place for prayer for those who lived in the besieged city.
Nowadays people from various cities and countries come on pilgrimage to St. Petersburg, to Smolenskoye Cemetery asking St. Xenia to fulfill their most sacred wishes.
Maintaining Smolenskoye Cemetery it is important not only to preserve its history but also its picturesque look and unique atmosphere that took centuries to form and made this necropolis both a place of mourning and a popular site for contemplative walks.
Xenia of Saint Petersburg (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xenia_of_Saint_Petersburg)
Pyotr Semyonov-Tyan-Shansky (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyotr_Semyonov-Tyan-Shansky)
Alexander Mozhaysky (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Mozhaysky)
Fyodor Sologub (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feodor_Sologub)
Brother, sons and daughter of Fyodor Dostoyevsky (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fyodor_Dostoyevsky)
Brother and father of Alexander Dargomyzhsky (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dargomyzhsky)
SMOLENSKOYE ORTHODOX CEMETERY
26 Kamskaya Street
Tel: +7 812 3219993
Tel./Fax: +7 812 3219993
26 Kamskaya Street
The cemetery is open to the public daily from 9,00 a.m. to 17,00 p.m. (from October to April); and the cemetery is open to the public daily from 9,00 a.m. to 18,00 p.m. (from May to September)
Points of interest
Smolenskoye Cemetery (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Line 3, metro station “Vasileostrovskaya”
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