Elizabeth has commissioned the lovely Smolny Convent and the Winter Palace, though she died before both
buildings were completed. Ironically, during Elizabeth's reign the area near the palace, which later
became the Palace Square, was used as a grazing land for the royal cows.
Elizabeth tried to follow many of her father's policies. Unlike some of her predecessors, she preferred
to appoint Russians and not foreigners to the highest positions in the country. Being a patron of
national arts and sciences, she established the Russian Academy of Arts. It has to be mentioned that
Elizabeth was a very lively woman: she preferred to skip work when possible and enjoy balls, receptions,
masquerades, firework displays, and other things which were a lot of fun.
Elizabeth's nephew Peter III did not rule for too long. Shortly after assuming power he was overthrown
by his wife, a German princess, who soon became the famous Catherine the Great. Under her rule
St. Petersburg turned into a "Grand City".
Catherine the Great
Catherine the Great assumed power in 1762 after a coup d' etat, which she engineered together with the
officers of the Royal Guard. Unlike her husband, she was well loved by the country's elite and
received a very good press in Europe thanks to her contacts with many figures of the
French Enlightenment. Catherine's court was extremely luxurious. She was the first to move into
the newly built Winter Palace.