This cathedral has a commanding position in the St. Petersburg cityscape and the views from it are just as stunning as its decadent interior.
With its imposing golden dome, St. Isaac’s Cathedral is a must-see landmark and a recognizable symbol of St. Petersburg. An important religious site for hundreds of years, the cathedral is now mostly appreciated by visitors to St. Petersburg. Check out its splendid decoration and take photos from its excellent vantage point.
Although the cathedral is known around the world in its current grandiose form, it has actually gone through many manifestations in its 300-year plus history. Its first wooden incarnation was claimed by a flood, and its successor by fire. After that, the death of its successive patrons, Catherine II and Paul I, as well as its own architect, Antonio Rinaldi, proved to be major setbacks. French architect Auguste Montferrand stepped into the breach and the cathedral you see today was completed between 1818 and 1858.
Gaze at the iconic dome of the cathedral, opulently gilded with more than 220 pounds (100 kilograms) of gold. The rest of the cathedral’s exterior is just as impressive too. Stand in its porticos beside the monolithic red granite columns, each of which tip the scales at 80 tons (72,575 kilogram). Marble also features prominently on the edifice and its granite walls are covered in the gleaming stone.
The porticos each sport elaborate bronze pediments sculpted by Ivan Vitali and Francois Lemaire. Look for a depiction of the Resurrection on the north pediment and an image of St. Isaac giving a blessing to Emperor Theodosius in the west.
Enter the cathedral interior, which is decorated with a huge amount of fine art. Inspect Karl Briullov’s 8,611 square-foot (800 square-meter) painting of the Virgin Mary with a retinue of heavenly beings. The cathedral also has a work depicting the Last Judgement, an imposing rendering of Jesus Christ looking down on the churchgoers.
Scale the 300 steps to the cathedral’s colonnade for an excellent view of the rest of the city. The vista is so great that many come to the cathedral for that alone.
Ride the metro to Admiralteyskaya station and from there, it’s an easy walk to St. Isaac’s Cathedral. The cathedral now rarely hosts religious services, but is open daily to the public, apart from Wednesdays. There are separate admission charges for the church and colonnade.