There are several rich historical places in Russia and the world with a religious background. One of those places which might be the most important one of them in Russia is Saint Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg.
At northwestern of the St. Petersburg, under the bank of Neva river, right in the north of Saint Isaac's square, there's a giant structure with the same name. Saint Isaac's Cathedral is the largest cathedral under Orthodox church rules with the capacity of fourteen thousand worshipers at once. This enormous structure is the fourth largest cathedral in the world.
At first, the church was made out of wood and constructed by the orders of Peter the Great in 1707, in which the emperor sometimes went there and gave his praises. Since the building was slowly decaying Paul I who wanted to restore the church, assigned Antonio Rinaldi to rebuild the church out of stone and bricks. Later, Saint Michael, who didn't approve the church's design and thought it didn't relate enough to the city, reconstruct the church and change most of its design.
However, the origin of the Saint Isaac's Cathedral began in 1812, during the Alexander I's reign. At the time, The Emperor ordered to build a majestic Cathedral upon the old church's place. Therefore, several artists sent their designs to the committee to become the new cathedral's architect, Auguste De Montferrand's design was amongst them. Though, the committee ruled out his idea, because they believed that his neoclassical design wasn't impressive, even boring at some points. They also considered that with this large volume of a building, it didn't look majestic enough. However, the Emperor who was an admirer of neoclassical architecture stepped in and ruled the results in favor of Montferrand.
The construction took almost forty years to be complete, and Montferrand was observing the operation the entire time as the designer. He even foretold that he would be dead by the end of constructing which interesting enough, did happen and he died around 1858. The Finns even took the forty years of construction of the Saint Isaac's Cathedral in their language and use it as an idiom when something needs to take a long time to be ready. Montferrand used huge columns to strengthen the structure, its materials exported from Finland to Russia and cost one million gold Rubles which was a massive price for the cathedral to pay. During the construction, from beginning to the end, it provided around five hundred thousand jobs for the people. The Cathedral took its name after Saint Isaac, the patron of Peter the Great.
During the Soviet Russia era, The Cathedral was abandoned until 1931 and turned into the "Religious and Atheist" museum afterward. Its Dove figure which represents the Holy Spirit in Christianity replaced by a Foucault pendulum which is a device for explaining the Earth's rotation. The Religious and Atheist museum changed into The Cathedral museum in 1937 and its previous belongings sent to The Kazan Cathedral museum.
During the second world war, the giant golden domes of the cathedral covered in gray to be hidden from the enemy’s air force view. After the fall of the Soviet Union, The Cathedral changed back to be a religious place once again and begin to do the daily religious traditions. However, the grand hall of the cathedral exclusively used for the feast days and everyday routines taken in the small chapel of the cathedral.
The neoclassical architecture of the place with one giant dome in the middle and four sub-domes around it formed the surface of the structure. The whole building, in general, and the dome, in particular, had a massive influence on "Wisconsin Capitol" and "United State Capitol" domes. The pink and gray exterior of the building includes 112 red granite Corinthian columns in total. The great dome of the building which is 101 meters high and made with pure gold, decorated with twelve angel sculptures around it by the artist Josef Herman. Other than these sculptures around the dome, there are much more sculptures, stone carving, and fascinating arts around the building which make it even more majestic, But the exterior is not the only charm of this structure, the interior has an extraordinary design as well.
The door of the Saint Isaac's Cathedral covered in Reliefs and meant to be a remembrance of the Baptistery of Saint John in Florence. A Dove statue installed right under the dome representing the Holy Spirit. The interior material of the place including the columns, the pilasters, the floor, and even the monument of Montferrand are made out of granites. The interior formerly covered with works of famous Russian artists such as Karl Bryullov, but because of the cold weather outside and humid inside the building, the paintings were decaying so Montferrand ordered to rebuild the painting with mosaic, the project has never ended.
One of the fascinating views over the city of St. Petersburg is from the top of the St. Isaac's Cathedral, and it's only accessible by the colonnade of the cathedral. Saint Isaac's Cathedral is only 8 minutes away from the beginning of the Nevsky street, and only 13 minutes away from the Hermitage Museum. Since the cathedral is located near the Neva river, you can also witness the beauty of this magnificent structure from the river by signing in one of the several daylight boat tour or the night cruises.
The Saint Isaac Cathedral is one of the traditional symbols of Saint Petersburg and one of the religious symbols of Russia and probably the world. The cathedral with its extraordinary design, paintings, Reliefs, icons, and also its religious ceremonies, brings lots of worshipers and tourists into the place. Agencies will surely include the Saint Isaac's Cathedral in their Russia tour programs, but if it happens for you to travel to Russia on your own, you must include The Saint Isaac's Cathedral in your journey because it's certainly worth the visit.
There are many things you should know before you Travel to Russia, such as "How to get a Russia visa?" or "What are the most famous attractions that everyone should see when they Visit St. Petersburg?" which you can find your answers in our blog at the Star Travel Group site.