When is a cake not a cake? Perhaps when it's a church. Catherine the Great is known for many things, including her remarkable summer and winter palaces in St. Petersburg. A lesser-known, but thoroughly delightful piece of architectural whimsy, the Chesma Church was commissioned by Catherine and built in 1777-80 by the architect Yuri Felten. The round, red-and-white striped structure, officially the Church of St. John the Baptist at Chesma Palace, is one of only two Gothic Revival churches left in the city. During Soviet times, it was used as a museum. It was revived as an active place of worship in 1999. Although the church got its name from a strategic naval victory -- in commemoration of the defeat of the Turkish Fleet at Chesma Bay, for which Catherine had four Chesma monuments built -- its fanciful facade rises like an ornate wedding cake, reminding one more of a party than of war.
Chesma Church, Ulitsa Lensoveta, 12, St. Petersburg. 011-7-812-373-6114. Nearest metro station: Moskovskaya.