It was part of an old Russian military tradition that each regiment that was part of the royal guard has its regimental cathedral. The Izmailovsky regiment which is one of the most important and famous regiments in the royal guard had the Trinity Cathedral in the city of St. Petersburg. It’s said that the Izmailovsky regiment which was the lifeguard of many rulers from the Romanov family won each battle that they’ve engaged throughout its existence.
The Trinity Cathedral locates at the south side of the Admiralty in Izmailovsky Prospekt. This cathedral which was a fine example of late Empire style architecture designed and built by the hands of Russian architect, Vasily Stasov in 1835. The Trinity Cathedral (Don’t get mixed with the Holy Trinity Cathedral in the Alexander Nevsky Monastery) was one of those religious sites that suffered a lot during its existence, but still gives services to its members.
At the beginning of 1733, there was a large field tent serving as a church for the Izmailovsky regiments which was only operative during the summer. Empress Elizabeth ordered to build a wooden church for the regiment in 1756. The new wooden church had two altars, and the main one was named Trinity which was suffered a lot during the flood of 1824, and Emperor Nicholas the First assigned Vasily Stasov to construct a new cathedral to replace the old church.
Stasov started the project in 1825 and designed the Trinity Cathedral following the classical architecture in Empire style. The cathedral building contained one gigantic central dome and four smaller sub-domes around it. The central wooden dome decorated with 280 glided stars which were the symbol of the Izmailovsky regiment. The inside of the central dome was also decorated with the same amount of glided stars. When the construction completed the keys to the cities where the regiment collected during their campaign, items, symbols, enemies’ flags, and valuables belonged to the regiment brought to the cathedral. The Trinity Cathedral is also well known for its collection of icons which the main one installed on the main altar.
The royal train which was returning from Crimea to St. Petersburg crashed in 1888. Though the train and most of its passengers suffered a lot including fifteen confirmed death, the royal family didn’t injure severely which was somehow a miracle considering the level of fatalities. Following the incident, the Trinity Cathedral requested permission to build a chapel to honor the Emperor's life which was granted. The chapel which was a small version of the cathedral turned into a cafe during the Soviet era and suffered a lot during the Second World War, but as of today, it got restored and turned back into a chapel again.
There’s a victory memorial in front of the cathedral which was erected in 1886. The Column of Glory was a monument for the regiment’s victory against the Ottoman's empire, and releasing Bulgaria in the battle of 1876. The column was 8 meters tall and decorated with 140 trophy cannon that was used during the battle. The original column was destroyed by the hands of Stalin, but a replica was built in 2003 and erected again at the same location.
During the Soviet era, all the valuables of the cathedral were looted, and the cathedral was also closed in 1938. There were many rumors that the cathedral was going to be demolished, but that turned out to be wrong. However, the building turned to the Soviet’s communication ministry which they used it as a warehouse. The Trinity Cathedral finally gave back to the Orthodox Church in 1990, and the restoration began soon after. When the Orthodox Church got back the cathedral, there was almost nothing left from its glorious interior before the revolution.
During the reconstruction, the central wooden dome got on fire in 2006. The central dome collapsed and crushed one of the four sub-domes and also seriously damaged another one along with the interior of the cathedral. Though, all the icons and valuables of the cathedral saved before the fire could damage them. The restoration began shortly after and completed in 2010 with the original design.
Today, the cathedral beside the religious services which is more relevant for the locals, also caught many tourists’ attention because of its astonishing architecture and marvelous interior of the cathedral.
There’s also the famous iconography inside the cathedral that interests both tourists and locals.
Finally, there's the exact copy of the Column of the Military Glory with its astounding design and decoration which gets the first attention from the tourists and visitors.
If you got some free time in your St. Petersburg’s tour plans, we recommend you to visit the Trinity Cathedral and witness its now and past glory closely. It can be one of the highlights of your travel to Russia too.