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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Details

Founded: 1712-1733
Category: Religious sites in Russia

Rating

4.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Hugo Philippe (5 months 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 (5 months ago)
Wonderful monuments of Russian culture and architecture, nice place for photography
Ch L (5 months ago)
Nice exterior, but I can't tell anything about the interior as I've never been inside.
Frecky Lewis (8 months 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 (8 months 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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The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.