St. Isaac's Cathedral is one of the iconic symbols of Saint-Petersburg.

The history of its foundation goes back to 1710, when a small wooden building of a drawing workshop near the local shipbuilding yard was converted into a church. The church was named in honour of St. Isaac of Dalmatia, the patron saint of Peter the Great, who was born on the saint’s feast day.

Two years later Peter the Great married his second wife Catherine in this church.

In 1717 Peter decided to rebuild the church in stone. The new building was located right on the bank of the Neva River. Soon the basement was damaged by water, and the church had to be removed and rebuilt.

The third building of St. Isaac church was started in 1768 and finished in 1802. However, this building appeared to be disproportional, not to say ugly. The ruling emperor Alexander I insisted on the reconstruction. The new construction contract was commissioned to a French architect Auguste de Montferrand and his design was approved by Alexander I on February 20, 1818. The State Treasury was to pay 506,300 rubles to cover the expenses of the first step of the construction works.

The construction lasted 40 years. Granite was widely used in construction works. It was mined in Finland and transported by water to Saint-Petersburg. The Cathedral is surrounded by 48 granite columns. At the base of each column there is a platinum medal depicting Alexander I.

24 granite columns were installed on the dome. Traditionally, memorial silver rubles were laid at the base of each of them.

Bas-reliefs of the porticoes of St. Isaac's Cathedral were cast at St. Petersburg’s factory of a Scottish engineer and businessman Charles Baird.

The thickness of the walls of the cathedral is 2.7 meters, but in some places it reaches 5 meters. The height of the cathedral is 101.5 meters. The dome has a diameter of 25.8 meters, almost 100 kg of gold were used to gild it.

The cathedral is considered to be the fourth largest dome cathedral in Europe.

The cathedral is richly decorated with marble of different kinds and semiprecious stones from Russia and other countries. For example, there is marble which comes from certain parts of Italy: yellow marble is from Siena and green marble comes from Genoa. Red marble comes from the Cévennes mountains in southern France.

Mural paintings and icons were executed by the best Russian artists. Mosaic decorations were implemented by masters from Russia and Italy.

The cathedral was consecrated on May 30, 1858. It can accommodate up to 12000 people.

After the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, gold and silver items were removed from the cathedral, but services continued. In 1928 it was closed, and in 1931 the “Anti-Religious Museum” was opened in it.

"Parades of athletes" were extremely popular in 1930s in the USSR. Some of those parades were arranged on the square in front of St. Isaac Cathedral, and some athletes performed gymnastics on the colonnade.

During WWII the dome of the cathedral was painted gray. The cathedral kept the valuables of the museums of Leningrad, and museum staff and their families lived in the cellar.

In 1948 the cathedral was turned into a museum "St. Isaac Cathedral." Since 1990, church services have been resumed. There is a discussion to return the cathedral to the Russian Orthodox Church.

The guided tour includes information about the history of the cathedral, the artistic decorations, sculptures and biblical subjects in the paintings of St. Isaac Cathedral. Using the spiral staircase, it is possible to climb upstairs to the observation deck on the colonnade and enjoy views of the city from the height of 43 meters.

Opening hours:

Museum "St. Isaac Cathedral" is open from 10:30 to 18:00, day off - Wednesday The museum’s evening programs are held from May 1 to September 30 from 18:00 to 22:30.

The colonnade of St. Isaac Cathedral is open from 10:00 to 18:00.

From May 1 to September 30 - seven days a week, and from October 1 to April 30 there is one day off per month - this is the third Wednesday of the month.

The “Evening colonnade” tour is held from May 1 to September 30 from 18:00 to 22:30.

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