St. Isaac's Cathedral, behemoth in size, dominates it's own square, and is one of the premier tourist attractions of St. Petersburg. St. Isaac himself was a Monk who shared the same birthday as Peter the Great (May 30th).
This is the fourth cathedral in the city to have been dedicated to this monk. St. Isaac's Cathedral was once the main church of St. Petersburg and the largest church of Russia.
Although the cathedral is smaller than the newly rebuilt Church of Christ the Savior in Moscow, it has by far more inspirational facades and interiors.
The facades are decorated with sculptures and massive granite columns (made of single pieces of red granite), while the interiors dazzle the eye with mosaic icons, paintings and columns made of malachite and lapis lazuli.
A large stained glass of "Resurrected Christ" located inside the main altar is truly fascinating.
The church, designed to accommodate 14 thousand standing worshipers, was closed in the early 1930s and reopened as a museum. Nowadays,
church services are held here only on major occasions.
St. Isaac's Cathedral is the fourth church built on the same place. First, during Peter's reign on the bank of the Neva river a small church was erected in honor of St. Isaac, Peter the Great's Patron Saint.
In that church Peter married his second wife Catherine I. But the flimsy wooden building was ruined by floods.
The other two churches, which appeared there later, were also ruined for different reasons. In the beginning of the 19th century Alexander I organized a competition for the best design of the new cathedral.
Monferrant - a young French architect - won the competition. The construction of the cathedral began in 1818 and lasted for 40 years. St. Isaac's Cathedral is a unique architectural monument. It is the 4th largest cupola construction in the world.
Its height is 101.5 m.
The cathedral is richly ornamented with different sorts of marble. 112 granite columns decorate the cathedral outside. Foreign visitors can buy their tickets at the right door of the southern facade (not at the ticket booth).
We recommend that you also climb about 300 stairs to get a bird-eye view of St. Petersburg from the "Collonade" observation point at the bottom of the dome.