St. Isaac's Cathedral was originally the city's main church and the largest cathedral in Russia. It was built between 1818 and 1858, by the French-born architect Auguste Montferrand, to be one of the most impressive landmarks of the Russian Imperial capital. One hundred and eighty years later the gilded dome of St. Isaac's still dominates the skyline of St. Petersburg. Although the cathedral is considerably smaller than the newly rebuilt Church of Christ the Savior in Moscow, it boasts much more impressive fades and interiors.
The cathedral's facades are decorated with sculptures and massive granite columns (made of single pieces of red granite), while the interior is adorned with incredibly detailed mosaic icons, paintings and columns made of malachite and lapis lazuli. A large, brightly colored stained glass window of the "Resurrected Christ" takes pride of place inside the main altar. The church, designed to accommodate 14,000 standing worshipers, was closed in the early 1930s and reopened as a museum. Today, church services are held here only on major ecclesiastical occasions.
The magnificent dome of St. Isaac's Cathedral rises to a height of 101,5 meter (333ft) and is visible from all over the historic center of St. Petersburg. The gleaming dome is plated with pure gold and decorated with statues of angels, sculpted by Josef Hermann.
We also recommend that you climb the 300 steps up to the cathedral's colonnade, and enjoy the magnificent views over the city. No expenses were spared to decorate the cathedral with the most expensive materials - fourteen different colors of marble and many semi-precious stones such as lapis lazuli and malachite were used, one of the reasons the cost of the cathedral ballooned to almost ten times that of the Winter Palace. The most renowned artists of the time, including painter Karl Briullov and sculptors Ivan Vitali and Peter Clodt, collaborated to create the most striking decorations.
Brullyov created the magnificent fresco inside the dome, depicting Maria surrounded by saints. At the center of the fresco, in the cupola at a height of about 80 meters (263 ft) hangs a silver pigeon. The large pigeon - with a wing span of 1 meter 65cm - represents the Holy Spirit.
The walls of the church are decorated with magnificent frescoes and mosaics. The iconostasis is decorated with a unique stained glass window. Above is a gilded sculpture of Christ by Peter Clodt. This cathedral is definitely one of the must-be-seen sights in St.Petersburg.