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

Rating

4.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Hugo Philippe (3 years ago)
Wonderful church in the middle of the fortress island, where Peter the Great founder Saint Petersburg. There is a small entrance fee, but it is worth it. This church is the last resting place for the Romanov family.
Goutham Hebbar (3 years ago)
Wonderful monuments of Russian culture and architecture, nice place for photography
Ch L (3 years ago)
Nice exterior, but I can't tell anything about the interior as I've never been inside.
Frecky Lewis (3 years ago)
One of the most beautiful cathedrals I have ever visited, this majestic building (with an amazingly tall spire!) houses the remains of much of the Russian imperial family. The tombs are all clearly marked, and touring the inside of the building fills one with a reverence for the departed Russian royalty.
thomas rodrian (3 years ago)
The only reason I wanted to see the Peter and Paul Fortress was Fyodor Dostoevsky. He is my favorite Russian author (IMHO, his best books: The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov) and I wanted to see where he had been imprisoned. Our guide, a Russian, knew nothing about Dostoevsky. How can you by Russian, grow up in Russia and know nothing about Dostoevsky? I grew up over 6000 miles away from Russia and I know about Dostoevsky. My asking him questions about Dostoevsky and his not knowing anything would be tantamount to me not knowing about Mark Twain. We fired our guide! Although, I thought about recommending he go read The Idiot, but I refrained. While on the citadel island, we tried to se everything: Тюрьма Трубецкого бастиона, Санкт-Петербургский Монетный Двор, Ботный дом, Экспозиция "История денег", Петропавловский собор, Музей космонавтики и ракетной техники имени В. П. Глушко, and Государственный музей истории Санкт-Петербурга. Without a guide, I am sure we missed more than we saw, but it was less irritating for me. Oh, due to Mr. Irritation, we missed the cannon shooting; one more reason to fire him again. However, of all the places we visited, the Cathedral was the best. Wheelchair users: You should also always call ahead to find out if there is wheelchair access to bars, clubs, museums, and restaurants. In most cases the answer, sadly, will be in the negative. Alternatively, assume it is inaccessible and hire a few people to lift you and your chair up the stairs, and then be sure to pay very generously for the assistance.
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