Cathedrals and churches
When you are in St. Petersburg you just cannot miss a chance to admire orthodox churches and cathedrals
St. Petersburg churches and cathedrals are an essential part of the city history. From the foundation St. Petersburg has been a very important cultural center of Russia: worldwide famous museums, theatres, park and palace complexes are located here. Churches and cathedrals of St. Petersburg are also worth visiting as cultural treasures, historical sites and heritage buildings.
The most beautiful churches and cathedrals in the heart of St. Petersburg
St. Isaac’s cathedral is a monumental majestic building, cathedral-museum, one of the main symbols of St. Petersburg. It is also one of the largest constructions of this type in the world. Height – 101.5 meters, length – 111 meters, width – 97 meters. The cathedral was designed by French architect Auguste Ricard de Montferrand. The building took 40 years. The cathedral got its name from the Saint Isaac of Dalmatia, a patron saint of Peter the Great (he was born on the feast day of that saint). Façades and interiors of the cathedral cherish the memory of different epochs: of Alexander I, Nickolay I, Alexander II. These walls witnessed ceremonial services, tsars, revolution, civil war, the Siege and a new birth. In 1931, it was turned into the State Antireligious Museum with the world’s largest Foucault pendulum on display. In 1937, the Cathedral acquired the status of an architectural monument, and the Museum’s profile was changed to historical and artistic. At the moment the State Museum-Monument “St. Isaac’s Cathedral” works as a museum. The visitors can also climb 300 steps up to the colonnade (under the dome) to admire the spectacular view of the city with its parks, streets, palaces, embankments and squares (if the weather is nice the distance of vision is 11 km). The main body of the cathedral is used for services on feast days.
Address: 4, St. Isaac’s square.
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood (another name – the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ) is a museum and Russian architectural monument. It was built at the order of the emperor Alexander III in memory of his father Alexander II (who was called in Russia “tsar-liberator” for emancipation of Russian serfs). The church is built on the place where the emperor Alexander II was fatally wounded on the 1st of March, 1881, by the member of “Narodnaya Volya” I. Grinevitsky. The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is modelled after Moscow Cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed, in Russian style, decorated with mosaic panel pictures (over 7000 square meters), designed by V. Vasnetsov and other Russian painters. The height of the building is 81 meter. This number is symbolic – associated with the year of death of the “tsar-liberator”. The construction took 24 years. In 1907 the church was opened, and consecrated by metropolitan Antony (Vadkovsky) the same year on the 1st of September. In 1930 the cathedral was closed, and there were plans to demolish it. But for many years it was used as a warehouse. During the Siege corpses were kept here. In 1970 the cathedral became an affiliated branch of the State Museum-Monument “St. Isaac’s Cathedral”, and from 1977 till 1991 the church was under restoration. The Museum “the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood” was reopened for visitors on the 19th of August, 1997. In spite of its difficult fate and tragic dedication the atmosphere of the cathedral is very vital and life affirming.
Address: 2B, Griboedov canal embankment.
Kazan Cathedral – one of the biggest St. Petersburg architectural structures, Russian military glory monument, where the main sacred thing of the city – Our Lady of Kazan icon – is kept. The cathedral was modelled by A. Voronikhin after the St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, in 1811. The ceremony of consecration of the cathedral was held also in 1811. After the Patriotic War (1812) Kazan cathedral got the meaning of Russian military glory memorial. The commander-in-chief Mikhail Kutuzov himself was buried here in 1813, and the same year keys to seventeen cities and eight fortresses, brought by the victorious Russian army from Europe, were placed in the cathedral's sacristy. Kazan cathedral is built according to Russian classicism style. The main features of this cathedral are one dome and semi-circular exterior colonnade, which forms a small square in front of the cathedral. The colonnade consists of 96 columns, with monumental portals at both ends. The cathedral is located in the city center. One façade – to Nevsky prospect, and the other one – to Griboedov canal. Kazan cathedral was closed in 1929. And for many years it served as Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism. In the end of the 20th century the cathedral was restored, returned to the Russian Orthodox Church, and services were resumed.
Address: 2, Kazanskaya square.
Alexander Nevsky Monastery – functional men’s orthodox monastery of St. Petersburg diocese, located in the end of Nevsky prospect (opposite to the city center). On this place, according to the legend, the largest battle with the Swedes took place, which was very important for the victory of Russia in that war. The official foundation date is the day of consecration of the Annunciation church – the 25th of March, 1713. In 1714 brethren's cells appeared. The building of the monastery had lasted during the 18th century, and was over only in 1790. The Trinity cathedral of Alexander Nevsky Monastery, built in 1776–1790, is the main construction of the complex. It is early classicism, with the dome coated with bronze gilt leaves and gilt cross. On the 18th of December, 1797, the monastery got the status of Lavra – at the order of the emperor Paul I.
From 1720 an Ecclesiastical Academy is placed in the monastery. Almost from the foundation Alexander Nevsky Lavra was the grave site of important statesmen, politicians, prominent artists and celebrities. After the October Revolution (1917) the monastery was closed, and all the churches stopped services. Innumerable relics and art works were sent to the Russian Museum, State Hermitage and other St. Petersburg museums. In 1957 the Trinity cathedral of Alexander Nevsky Lavra was handed over to the Russian Orthodox Church as a parish church. On the 3d of June, 1989, the relics of Alexander Nevsky were returned to the cathedral.
Address: 1, Monastyrka river embankment.
St. Isaac’s and Kazan cathedrals in St. Petersburg: how to get there?
If you choose Nevsky Forum hotel in the center of St. Petersburg, you can easily reach St. Isaac’s and Kazan cathedrals on foot! We are waiting for you in Nevsky prospect, you are welcome to book a room right now.