ST ISAAC’S CATHEDRAL (CATHEDRAL OF ST ISAAC OF DALMATIA)

Address: 4, Isaakiyevskaya Pl. (St Isaac’s Square)
Day off: Wednesday
ST ISAAC’S CATHEDRAL (CATHEDRAL OF ST ISAAC OF DALMATIA)

Saint Isaac’s Cathedral is a museum building striking one by its majesty. This cathedral marked the befitting completion of the age of Russia Classicism. The golden dome of St Isaac’s is visible practically from all the ends of the city and on a clear day even from distant suburbs. Visitors to St Isaac’s can enjoy a fascinating panoramic view down the city from the colonnade of the cathedral.

The cathedral was named at St Isaac of Dalmatia, on whose name-day, 30 May, Emperor Peter the Great was born. The earliest, wooden church was put up to the west from the Admiralty in 1710. The present-day St Isaac’s Cathedral, the fourth in line of succession, was constructed to a project by August de Montferrand from 1818 to 1858 and became the best creation of the French architect. In 1858 St Isaac’s cathedral was consecrated and received the status of the city’s main cathedral.

The overall height of the building is 101.5 metres. The cathedral is faced with natural grey marble; monolithic columns of red granite decorate the porticos. The installation of these 48 columns, each weighting about 110 tonnes, became the greatest engineering accomplishment of that period. St Isaac’s Cathedral is adorned with about 400 pieces of sculpture featuring biblical subject. They were created by Ivan Vitali, Nikolai Pimenov, Peter Klodt and other eminent sculptors. The walls of the cathedral are faced inside with rare sort of Italian and Russian marble and other kinds of precious stones: malachite, lapislazuli and porphyry, so St Isaac’s is sometimes named a “museum of stones”.

The interiors of the cathedral were decorated by the foremost artists of the period, including such famous masters of paintings as Karl Briullov, Fiodor Bruni and Vasily Shebuyev. The cathedral is a veritable treasure of mosaic art – 62 mosaic works were produced from painted originals.

In 1931 St Isaac’s Cathedral was converted into an anti-religious museum and several years later became a museum of history and art. In 1990 religious services were resumed in the cathedral on all the main Church Feasts and on Sundays.

The State Memorial “St Isaac’s Cathedral” is the largest museum complex. Its branches are the Cathedral of St Sampsonius, the Cathedral of the Resurrection (“Our Savior on the Spilt Blood”) and the Smolny Cathedral of the Resurrection.