Saint Isaac’s Cathedral
The Saint Isaac’s Cathedral construction started by Tsar Alexander I in 1818. It’s named in honor of Saint Isaac of Dalmatia, the patron saint of Peter the Great who was born on his feast day. It opened as a museum in 1931 and has remained so ever since.
The Saint Isaac’s Cathedral took 40 years to build. It took so long that they created a Finnish idiom: “To build like the Church of Isaac” when speaking of long term constructions.
Saint Isaac’s Cathedral and WWII
During World War II, they painted Saint Isaac’s Cathedral dome over in gray to avoid attracting attention from enemy aircraft. On its top, in the skylight, they placed an intersection point, to determine the positions of German artillery batteries. At this point in history, Saint Isaac’s Cathedral had to let go of its beauty and served a practical purpose.
The Beauty of Architecture
After the war, the exterior of the cathedral was refurbished and restored.
The cathedral and dome design later influenced the United States Capitol. The exterior is neoclassical, built in the Russian-Byzantine formula. The ground plan is a Greek cross with four subsidiary domes intersecting at a large central one.
The cathedral’s main dome rises 333 ft with a gilded gold exterior. Twelve angels decorate the dome, all designed by Josef Hermann. The cathedral’s bronze doors, covered in reliefs by Ivan Vitali.
Internal features such as columns, pilasters, floor, and statue of Montferrand are composed of multicolored granite and marble gathered from all parts of Russia.
Saint Isaac’s Cathedral Today
Saint Isaac’s Cathedral has served as a museum for more than 80 years now. However, the left hand side of the cathedral is now used for worship. The main cathedral body Orthodox church is using for religious feast days.
In its more than two centuries standing, the cathedral has seen the rise and fall of empires, survived war and famine, and is now basking in a new-found renaissance. Become part of its story by visiting it.
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