In the late eighteenth century Russians had come to see themselves as the successors and guardians of both Byzantine and ancient Greek heritage. Their religious and cultural links with medieval Constantinople acquired a new classical dimension during the Enlightenment. Omnipresent in Russian culture of that time, this vision manifested itself in art and architecture, even in works seemingly lacking any overt references to Byzantium. A neoByzantine architectural idiom developed in neoclassical Russia with the active involvement of Catherine the Great (1762-1796), embodying her notion of Byzantium’s cultural mission to preserve Greek antiquity and to deliver it to the learned world.