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.References:
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...:)
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).