St Isaac’s Cathedral
Towering majestically above the rooftops, St Isaac's Cathedral (Isaakievsky Sobor) is one of our city's premier tourist attractions and is even distinguishable from way out into the Gulf of Finland.
In fact it's too massive to take in at close quarters, but it stands in its own, virtually wide open square, Isaakievskaya Ploshad (St Isaac's Square), and it's from the center of this square that you achieve the best view of the cathedral.
During the day, it's gilded dome is without doubt one of the glories of the St Petersburg skyline and at night the gigantic columns and statues take on an almost other worldly appearance.
It's opulent interior with fourteen kinds of marble, as well as gilded stucco, malachite, jasper, mosaics and frescoes is just as impressive as it's exterior and the view from its colonnade offers an unsurpassed vista of our fair city, 360 degrees of history spread out below you.
Construction started in 1818 and a design by Auguste de Montferrand, an unknown and untested architect, was chosen by Alexander I over 23 other designs from much more experienced men. Rumor has it that construction (1818-42) and decoration (1842-58) were prolonged on purpose due to a popular superstition at the time that the Romanov dynasty would come to an end with the cathedral's completion.
And so a few words on some of the things you will see and hear about during your tour of this magnificent building:
• The 800 square meter painting of the Virgin Mary, painted by Karl Bryullov, surrounded by saints and angels which adorns the inside of the cupola, the fourth biggest cupola in the world. • The beautiful stained glass window and elaborate gilded bronze doors into the sanctuary, where only the Monarch and the patriarch were once admitted. • Vintage scale models of the cathedral, it's dome and the scaffolding used to erect the portico. • The outsized cast-iron relief in remembrance of the cathedrals architect - which was the only honor bestowed upon him for dying on the job after forty years of toil. • Hear how nearly 100 kg of gold leaf was used to cover the exterior of the dome, helping push the cost of the cathedral to over six times as much as that spent on the Winter Palace. • Hear about the almost unbearable working conditions of the serf-laborers and how 60 died carrying out just one process. • Hear how this cathedral appeared as "reference point no.1" during World War II. • Climb the 562 steps to the great colonnade, topped with 24 statues, walk along its windswept iron gallery and gantries to be rewarded with stunning panoramic views of central St Petersburg. Your guide will point out to you the most famous buildings to be seen from this remarkable vantage point. • Your guide will also enjoy telling you, how that superstition, about the fall of the Romanov dynasty with the completion of the cathedral, actually came true, well almost! So just a taste of what's in store should you choose to take a tour with us to marvel at one of the worlds largest and greatest dedications to the Russian Orthodox Faith.