You're unlikely to wander past the vibrant robin's-egg blue walls of the Smolny complex, because of its distant location in a barren district tucked in a curve in the Neva. But it's worth a visit if you have a guide who can interpret its architecture and history, or if you can attend one of its organ and chamber music concerts. The convent was originally designed in the 18th century for Peter the Great's daughter Elizabeth, but she later abandoned her plans for monastic life and became empress after a palace coup. It is one of the masterpieces of Italian architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli, also responsible for the Winter Palace. Unfortunately, most of the grounds are closed to the public (having been converted into insurance offices and city government annexes) or under renovation. Allow a couple of hours if you have a guide.