While taking a stroll along Nevsky Prospekt you cannot fail to notice the impressive Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan. This neoclassical cathedral was partly modelled on St Peter's in Rome.
Kazan Cathedral, constructed between 1801 and 1811 by the architect Andrei Voronikhin, was built to an enormous scale and boasts an impressive stone colonnade, encircling a small garden and central fountain.
The cathedral was inspired by the Basilica of St. Peter's in Rome and was intended to be the country's main Orthodox Church.
After the war of 1812 (during which Napoleon was defeated) the church became a monument to Russian victory. Captured enemy banners were put in the cathedral and the famous Russian Field Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov, who won the most important campaign of 1812, was buried inside the church.
The cathedral was named after the "miracle-making" icon of Our Lady of Kazan, which the church housed till the early 1930s. The Bolsheviks closed the cathedral for services in 1929, and from 1932 it housed the collections of the Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism, which displayed numerous pieces of religious art and served anti-religious propaganda purposes.
A couple of years ago regular services were resumed in the cathedral, though it still shares the premises with the museum, from whose name the word "atheism" has now been omitted.