© istock/romanevgenev
© istock/romanevgenev

St. Isaac's Cathedral, Saint Petersburg: viewing point

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Every city has its iconic symbol, which is unquestionably connected to the first association you get when you hear the name of the city. Regarding Saint Petersburg, one of such symbols is Saint Isaac’s Cathedral with its cupola. It’s famous for having the highest cupola in the world and now works as a museum with a great viewing point.

Thanks to Peter the Great

© istock/yulenochekk
© istock/yulenochekk

Saint Isaac’s Cathedral is located not far away from the Bronze Horseman, a monument depicting Peter the Great, Russian emperor and the founder of Saint Petersburg. He was born on May 30, a feast day of Isaac of Dalmatia, who was a Christian monk, and a saint. The current Saint Isaac’s Cathedral was constructed at the place where three different churches were built before. The intentionally chosen place was close to the Admiralty, and the first wooden church was built there at the beginning of the 18th century. On the day of February 19, 1712, Peter the Great married his wife, Catherine I of Russia, there. 

Magnificent look

© istock/Nikita Birzhakov
© istock/Nikita Birzhakov

In 1818, the construction of Saint Isaac’s Cathedral, as we know it today, started. It lasted for forty years and was finished in 1858. Its basement is rectangular, and forty-three types of minerals were used during the erection of Saint Isaac’s Cathedral. Granite and grey marble can be seen in its covering. Like many Orthodox cathedrals, Saint Isaac’s Cathedral has five cupolas. The main one, which is in the very center, made of metal and faced with pure gold, visually dominates the city view. There are statues of twelve apostles around it. Inside Saint Isaac’s Cathedral, there is even more to see. Informally, it’s also called a museum of colored stones, as long as it’s endowed with white, yellow, and green marble, as well as with jasper, and porphyry. Also, there is even more to see at mosaic paintings, there are more than 60 of them in Saint Isaac’s Cathedral. 

Saint Isaac’s Cathedral across the years

After the October Revolution, Saint Isaac’s Cathedral in Saint Petersburg found itself devastated. It was decided to turn it into an anti-religious museum in 1931, although three years earlier, the exhibition dedicated to the construction of the cathedral was inaugurated. During the Great Patriotic War and the Siege of Leningrad, many masterpieces from different city museums were stored in the building. Also, the cupola was disguised, so it managed to survive the war untouched. To this day, one may see bullet holes on the walls of Saint Isaac’s Cathedral. Today, the cathedral is more of a museum. It hosts exhibitions as well as guided tours. The most favorite thing to do of many guests is to visit its rooftop to catch amazing panoramic views from there. By the way, recently, Saint Isaac’s Cathedral was renovated, and now it’s one of the most popular places for stunning photos.

© istock/RAndrey
© istock/RAndrey

Saint Isaac’s Cathedral definitely makes the top of iconic and amazing places in central Saint Petersburg. Visiting this museum with a viewing point at its cupola will bring you the best memories and, besides, nice photos. It’s extremely awesome when you’re in the city during the White Nights season in summer. Then, the view from the top of Saint Isaac's Cathedral is particularly astonishing. 

Saint Isaac's Cathedral, St. Petersburg
Saint Isaac's Cathedral, St. Petersburg
St Isaac's Square, 4, Sankt-Peterburg, Russia, 190000

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The author

Maria Selezneva

Maria Selezneva

Hi, I am Maria, or Masha, as Russian speaking people call me. I’m your local guide for must-sees as well as off-the-beaten-track places in Moscow and St. Petersburg. I’ll show you my favourite destinations in both cities, where you can feel the true spirit of local traditions.

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