St Isaac’s Cathedral was designed by French architect August de Montferrand and was under construction for 40 years (1811-1851). It is one of the city‘s premier tourist attractions and the fourth tallest cupola construction in the world. The Cathedral is visible from offshore in the Gulf of Finland, but is too massive to fully grasp at close quarters.
With a height of almost 330 feet and an area more than 12,000 square feet, St Isaac’s Cathedral used to be the main Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Russian Empire. However after the revolution of 1917 the place of worship was turned into an anti-religious museum. Even nowadays it is difficult to imagine that all the enormous decoration of the interior of the cathedral, including numerous paintings by almost 30 outstanding Russian artists and splendid mosaics created in the Russian Academy of Fine Arts which is still located in St. Petersburg, were covered with propaganda, which hid them from the visitors of the museum.
Gilded bronze, malachite and lapis lazuli together with countless paintings, columns, mosaics, will take your breath away. The cathedral was extremely lucky to survive the Soviet era and World War II, and now we can enjoy the priceless beauty of probably the most impressive Russian Orthodox Cathedral in the world. Starting from 1990 the cathedral has been used as a functioning church with regular services, the biggest ones taking place during Christmas celebrations (January 7th), Easter and the birthday of St. Petersburg (May 27th). Most of the time the cathedral is open to the public as a museum.
During our St Petersburg tours and shore excursions you will not only experience the opulent beauty of the cathedral but will also learn about the construction procedure, why it took so long to finish the building, how in those days they managed to raise the tremendous columns each made of one piece of granite weighing about 114 tons and how the swampy soil of St Petersburg was reinforced to hold such a massive construction.
Sometimes the cathedral is also used for concerts. Spiritual music by outstanding Russian composers performed by best choirs will leave you speechless. If you enjoy classical music such a concert is absolutely worth attending (please contact us for further information). During the summer season (from May 1st to September 30th) the museum is open until 10:00 p.m., so you can also include it in your evening program if you wish.
Besides the museum you can also visit the colonnade of the cathedral to enjoy a breathtaking view of the Northern Venice (but remember there are 200 steps on the way there and no elevator). We offer you to meet the sunrise there with a glass of champagne in your hand. St Issac’s Cathedral is a fantastic photo stop on a St Petersburg tour or St Petersburg shore excursion.