Peter and Paul Cathedral

Saint Petersburg, Russia

The Peter and Paul Cathedral is a Russian Orthodox cathedral located inside the Peter and Paul Fortress. It is the first and oldest landmark in St. Petersburg, built between 1712 and 1733 on Zayachy Island along the Neva River. Both the cathedral and the fortress were originally built under Peter the Great and designed by Domenico Trezzini. The cathedral's bell tower is the world's tallest Orthodox bell tower. Since the belfry is not standalone, but an integral part of the main building, the cathedral is sometimes considered the highest Orthodox Church in the world.

The current cathedral is the second one on the site. The first, built soon after Peter's founding of the city, was consecrated by Archbishop Iov of Novgorod the Great in April 1704. The current building, the first stone church in St. Petersburg, was designed by Trezzini and built between 1712 and 1733. Its golden spire reaches a height of 404 feet and features at its top an angel holding a cross. This angel is one of the most important symbols of St. Petersburg.

The cathedral's architecture also features a unique iconostasis (the screen which separates the nave of the church from the sanctuary). In the Eastern Orthodox Church the iconostasis is normally a flat wall or screen with three doors through it, the central Holy Doors used only for very solemn entrances, and the two side doors, by which the clergy and others enter and leave the sanctuary. However, at St. Peter and Paul, the iconostasis rises to form a sort of tower over the sanctuary.

The cathedral was closed in 1919 and turned into a museum in 1924. It is still officially a museum; religious services, however, resumed in 2000. The cathedral houses the remains of almost all the Russian Emperors and Empresses from Peter the Great to Nicholas II and his family who were finally laid to rest in July 1998. Also buried here was Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia for 34 years. The cathedral has a typical Flemish carillon, a gift of the Flemish city of Mechelen, Flanders.

On September 28, 2006, 78 years after her death, Maria Feodorovna, Empress of Russia, was reinterred in the Cathedral of St Peter and Paul. Wife of Tsar Alexander III, and mother of Nicholas II, (the last Russian Tsar), Maria Feodorovna died on 13 October 1928 in exile in her native Denmark. and was buried in Roskilde Cathedral in Denmark. In 2005, the governments of Denmark and Russia agreed that the Empress's remains should be returned to Saint Petersburg in accordance with her wish to be interred next to her husband.

The cathedral was the cathedral church of the city until 1859 (when St Isaacs became the city's cathedral.) The current cathedral church of St. Petersburg is the Kazan Cathedral on Nevsky Prospect.

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Founded: 1712-1733
Category: Religious sites in Russia

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4.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Karl S (15 months ago)
Important place in Russian history that you can find in Saint Petersburg. From there you have an amazing view over the other riverside
Karun Venkatesh (15 months ago)
It's located in separate island in Petersburg. In winter time you can go there by crossing the frozen river or by small bridge. This cathedral is one of my favourite cathedral. I liked this cathedral much. There's one cat Living inside the cathedral for more than 18 yrs. She's so cute. Inside the cathedral there are more cemetery of king's family. Interior decorative arts are awesome, I'm speechless. For entering inside the cathedral you have to pay entrance fee. I paid 400 rubles for 4 places including cathedral. Good luck
nur hanani (2 years ago)
Nice place during summer for picnic and taking pictures
Annette Dane (2 years ago)
Very beautiful church. Absolutely a place to visit. I was particularly happy to see the tomb of Empress Maria Fedorovna, as she was born a Danish Princess.
George Ianovski (2 years ago)
There are some sarcophagi of the Romanovs, a gaudy iconostasis, and a cat. You kind of have to visit it if you're in town, but don't expect anything special. Best admired from the outside.
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Varberg Fortress was built in 1287-1300 by count Jacob Nielsen as protection against his Danish king, who had declared him an outlaw after the murder of King Eric V of Denmark. Jacob had close connections with king Eric II of Norway and as a result got substantial Norwegian assistance with the construction. The fortress, as well as half the county, became Norwegian in 1305.

King Eric's grand daughter, Ingeborg Håkansdotter, inherited the area from her father, King Haakon V of Norway. She and her husband, Eric, Duke of Södermanland, established a semi-independent state out of their Norwegian, Swedish and Danish counties until the death of Erik. They spent considerable time at the fortress. Their son, King Magnus IV of Sweden (Magnus VII of Norway), spent much time at the fortress as well.

The fortress was augmented during the late 16th and early 17th century on order by King Christian IV of Denmark. However, after the Treaty of Brömsebro in 1645 the fortress became Swedish. It was used as a military installation until 1830 and as a prison from the end of the 17th Century until 1931.

It is currently used as a museum and bed and breakfast as well as private accommodation. The moat of the fortress is said to be inhabited by a small lake monster. In August 2006, a couple of witnesses claimed to have seen the monster emerge from the dark water and devour a duck. The creature is described as brown, hairless and with a 40 cm long tail.