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Russia

St Petersburg

 

Cathedrals of St Petersburg


 

Saint Isaac's Cathedral is the largest Russian Orthodox cathedral in St Petersburg. It is dedicated to Saint Isaac of Dalmatia, a patron saint of Peter the Great who had been born on the feast day of that saint. The Cathedral was constructed on the orders of Tsar Alexander I between the years of 1818 to 1858 to replace an earlier structure. Under the Soviet government, religious trappings were removed and it became the Museum of Scientific Atheism.  With the fall of communism, the museum was removed and regular worship was resumed in the cathedral, although mainly in the left-hand side chapel. The main body of the cathedral is only used for services on feast days.

 

The cathedral is constructed in the late neoclassical architectural style and has its exterior faced with grey and pink stone. It has a total of 112 red monolithic Corinthian granite columns, 48 at ground level. The main dome rises over 100 metres and is plated with gold. During World War II, the dome was painted over in grey to avoid attracting attention from enemy aircraft. The dome is decorated with statues of angels. The Cathedral's bronze doors are covered in reliefs. Suspended underneath the peak of the dome is a sculpted dove representing the Holy Spirit. Internal features such as columns, pilasters and a statue of Montferrand (the Architect) are made of multicoloured granites and marbles. The iconostasis is framed by eight columns of semi-precious stone: six of malachite and two smaller ones of lapis lazuli.  The interior was originally decorated with paintings but when these began to deteriorate due to the cold, damp conditions inside the cathedral, Montferrand ordered them to be reproduced as mosaics.


Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ is better known as the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood or the Church on Spilt Blood.  Begun in 1883 under Alexander III on the site where his father, Tsar Alexander II was assassinated in a bomb explosion. It was completed in 1907 by Nicholas II.

 

Constructed in the medieval Russian architecture of the 17th century, similar to St Basilís Cathedral in Moscow, it is in contrast to the predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical architecture of St Petersburg. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics, covering over 7500 square metres, with the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures. A section of the embankment was extended out into the canal to allow a shrine to be constructed within the building on the exact place of Alexander's death. It consists of topaz, lapis lazuli and other semi-precious stones. The cobblestones on which the Tsarís blood was spilled and which are exposed in the floor of the shrine provide a striking contrast.

 

After the Russian Revolution it was looted and badly damaged. During World War II it was used as a mortuary. It began to be restored during the 1970s and was opened as a Museum of Mosaic in 1997.


 

Kazan Cathedral is also known as the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan and is dedicated to Russiaís most venerated icon of the same name. The Cathedral was modelled on St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. With construction starting in 1801, and taking 10 years to complete; it was intended to be the countryís main Orthodox Church.

 

After the war of 1812 (during which Napoleon was defeated) the church became a monument to Russian victory. Captured enemy banners were displayed in the cathedral.  Field Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov, who commanded the Russian army during the 1812 campaign, is buried inside the church. Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, the cathedral was closed until 1932, when it was reopened as the pro-Marxist "Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism."  Services were resumed in 1992; and four years later the cathedral was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church. Although still a museum it also functions as a church with regular services being carried out.

 

The interior features many sculptures and icons and numerous columns, echoing the impressive external stone colonnade, encircling a small garden and central fountain. A wrought iron grille, separating the cathedral from a small square at the rear, is considered to be one of the finest ever created. 


































To see more photographs and take a virtual tour of the site click on the photoshow below.

 


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All  Photographs Copyright: Ron Gatepain

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