Saint Isaac's Cathedral

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Isaac's Cathedral or Isaakievskiy Sobor is the largest Russian Orthodox cathedral in Saint Petersburg. The church on St Isaac's Square was ordered by Tsar Alexander I, to replace an earlier Rinaldiesque structure, and was the fourth consecutive church standing at this place. A specially appointed commission examined several designs, including that of the French-born architect Auguste de Montferrand (1786?1858), who had studied in the atelier of Napoleon's designer, Charles Percier. Montferrand's design was criticised by some members of the commission for the dry and allegedly boring rhythm of its four identical pedimented octastyle porticos. It was also suggested that despite gigantic dimensions, the edifice would look squat and not very impressive. The emperor, who favoured the ponderous Empire style of architecture, had to step in and solve the dispute in Montferrand's favour.

The cathedral took 40 years to construct, under Montferrand's direction, from 1818 to 1858. Under the Soviet government, the building was stripped of religious trappings. In 1931, it was turned into the Antireligious Museum, The dove sculpture was removed, and replaced by a Foucault pendulum. On April 12, 1931, the first public demonstration of the Foucault pendulum was held to visualize Copernicus?s theory. In 1937, the museum was transformed into the museum of the Cathedral, and former collections were transferred to the Museum of the History of Religion (located in the Kazan Cathedral).

During World War II, the dome was painted over in gray to avoid attracting attention from enemy aircraft. On its top, in the skylight, a geodesical intersection point was placed, with the objective of aiding in the location of enemy cannon. With the fall of communism, the museum was removed and regular worship activity has resumed in the cathedral, but only in the left-hand side chapel. The main body of the cathedral is used for services on feast days only. Today the church is still a museum.

The exterior is faced with gray and pink stone, and features a total of 112 red granite columns with Corinthian capitals, each hewn and erected as a single block: 48 at ground level, 24 on the rotunda of the uppermost dome, 8 on each of four side domes, and 2 framing each of four windows. The rotunda is encircled by a walkway accessible to tourists. 24 statues stand on the roof, and another 24 on top of the rotunda.

The cathedral's main dome rises 101.5 metres and is plated with pure gold. The dome is decorated with twelve statues of angels by Josef Hermann. Bronze doors are covered in reliefs, patterned after the celebrated doors of the Battistero di San Giovanni in Florence, designed by Lorenzo Ghiberti. Suspended underneath the peak of the dome is a sculpted dove representing the Holy Spirit. Internal features such as columns,pilasters, floor, and statue of Montferrand are composed of multicolored granites and marblesgathered from all parts of Russia. The iconostasis is framed by eight columns of semiprecious stone: six of malachite and two smaller ones of lazurite. The four pediments are also richly sculpted.

The interior was originally decorated with scores of paintings by Karl Bryullov and other great Russian masters of the day. When these paintings began to deteriorate due to the cold, damp conditions inside the cathedral, Montferrand ordered them to be painstakingly reproduced asmosaics, a technique introduced in Russia by Mikhail Lomonosov. This work was never completed.

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Pedro said 5 years ago
Casualmente ou providencialmente caí aqui na frente desta catedral. O mundo fica inexoravelmente cada dia menor. Moro a 12.000 km distantes, cidade de Patos de Minas, Brasil. Aqui ao meu lado na mesa do meu computador tenho uma foto desta catedral que minha filha em 2010 trouxe de São Petersburgo...:)


Details

Founded: 1818-1858
Category: Religious sites in Russia

Rating

4.9/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Ahmet İhsan Kaya (9 months ago)
One of the best cathedrals I've ever been to. Both exterior and interior of the cathedral are amazing. The interior paintings and engravings are unrivaled while you can enjoy the picturesque view of St. Petersburg from the top of the building. The price of the museum is 350 ruble and you have to pay additional 200 rub for audio guide and further 200 rub to climb to the top of the cathedral.
maryam jafarian (11 months ago)
St. Isaac's Cathedral is a large architectural landmark cathedral that now functions as a museum with church services in Saint Petersburg, Russia. it was the first place I visited in Russia and I loved how outstanding it looked at the moment. specially having that amazing sky and clouds behind it. at the moment we arrived, the was a marriage ceremony taking place there at the cathedral yard and everything was shiny. I suggest to visit it for sure :)
Freebios (11 months ago)
Beautiful and colorful cathedral. If you have the opportunity to go on the roof don't hesitate, the climb of stairs is worth it. The sight is nice. It's good opportunity to get cool pictures even though it can get really crowded up there. The stairs closes at 17h30, you can then enjoy 30mn with almost no one on the roof!
Razvan (13 months ago)
One of the most beautiful cathedrals ever. You can visit the museum which is the interior of the cathedral or simply climb up the stairs to the top and enjoy a 360 view of Peter. We did both and we loved it. A must if you visit the city
Sebastian Kluth (16 months ago)
Saint Isaac's Cathedral is one of the most beautiful cathedrals I have ever visited with its colourful paintings and numerous golden frames. There are only occasional church services these days and the cathedral is mainly a museum now. Needless to say that this stunning building is worth a detour on your stroll through downtown Saint Petersburg.
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