The magnificent Saint Isaac’s Cathedral in Sankt Petersburg

The entrances of Saint Isaac's Cathedral

The entrances of Saint Isaac’s Cathedral ©thisisbossi/Flick

The magnificent Saint Isaac’s Cathedral in Sankt Petersburg is a monumental construction with an impressive dome which was built in the 19th century after the draft of August Montferrand.

The dome of the cathedral in Sankt Petersburg is one of the symbols of the city and is visible from many miles away.

This is the fourth church built in the same place and dedicated to Saint Isaac the Confessor, a monk that was imprisoned by the Roman Emperor Valens in the 4th century. Saint Isaac was finally released the successor of Valens, Theodosius.

 

The link between Saint Isaac and Peter the Great

The day of the saint is celebrated on the 30th of May, which is the birthday of Peter the Great. This was the reason why the great Russian tzar ordered the construction of this church in honor of Saint Isaac.

Different churches on the site of the cathedral

On the site stood a small wooden church since 1707, just four years before Peter founded the city of Sankt Petersburg. After the Napoleonic wars were finalized the plans for a new church to replace the old cathedral from the 18th century that was still unfinished. The new Saint Isaac’s Cathedral in Sankt Petersburg needed to be the greatest of all churches of the Russian Empire. Tzar Alexander I chose the French architect August Montferrand to lead this project and the construction was started in 1818.

Previous churches on the place of the Saint Isaac's Cathedral

Previous churches on the place of the Saint Isaac’s Cathedral ©thisisbossi/Flick

The colossal foundation of the church

The colossal foundation of this church raised important issues since the ground was quite soft to support such a structure. Finally Montferrand used a technique that was widely used for centuries in Venice: thousands of wooden pillars were stuck in the ground to ensure a solid foundation. Forty years later, in 1858, the church was completed. Montferrand died a few months after completing his masterpiece.

View from the dome of Saint Isaac's Cathedral in Sankt Petersburg

View from the dome of Saint Isaac’s Cathedral in Sankt Petersburg ©thisisbossi/Flick

The style of Saint Isaac’s Cathedral

Saint Isaac’s Cathedral has a plan inspired by Greek cross-shaped foundations, a large central dome and four smaller domes on each corner. The four monumental entrances are decorated with Corinthian columns, reliefs and sculptures. It is remarkable the relief is the work of Ivan Vitali at the western entrance, which depicts Saint Isaac when he met with Emperor Theodosius and his wife Flacilla. Vitali’s modeled the head of Theodosius after Tsar Alexander I and the head of Flacille after his wife, Elizabeth Alexeievna.

The entrances of Saint Isaac's Cathedral

The entrances of Saint Isaac’s Cathedral ©thisisbossi/Flick

The domes of the cathedral

The magnificent dome of Saint Isaac’s Cathedral rises to 101.5 meters and can be seen from almost anywhere in the historical center of Sankt Petersburg. The dome is plated with pure gold and decorated with statues of angels sculpted by Josef Hermann. Tourists who dare to climb the colonnade of the dome are rewarded with some great views of the city.

The dome of Saint Isaac's Cathedral in Sankt Petersburg

The dome of Saint Isaac’s Cathedral in Sankt Petersburg ©nimdok/Flick

The expensive decorations of the cathedral

For the decoration of the cathedral were used the most expensive materials, as 14 different types of marble and many semi-precious stones were, which is one of the reasons that the construction of the cathedral cost about 10 times more than the Winter Palace. The most famous artists of that time, including Karl Bryullov and sculptors Ivan Vitali and Peter Clodt, have collaborated to create a series of beautiful decorations.

The interior of Saint Isaac's Cathedral in Sankt Petersburg

The interior of Saint Isaac’s Cathedral in Sankt Petersburg ©Katie@!/Flick

Karl Bryullov is the author of the fresco inside the dome of Saint Isaac’s Cathedral which depicts Mary surrounded by saints. In the center of the fresco is hanging a silver bird from a height of 80 meters. This bird with a wingspan of over a meter and a half represents the Holy Spirit. The walls of the church are decorated with beautiful frescoes and diversified mosaics. The iconostasis is decorated with unique stained windows and above it is a sculpture of Christ, the work of Peter Clodt.

The ceiling of Saint Isaac's Cathedral in Sankt Petersburg

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