St. Isaac’s Cathedral

If you ever visit St. Petersburg, Russia, one of the most dominant building piercing the city’s skyline is the gold dome of St. Isaac’s Cathedral. Built between 1818 and 1858, by the French-born architect Auguste Montferrand, it is dedicated to Saint Isaac of Dalmatia, a patron saint of Peter the Great, who had been born on the feast day of that saint.

The cathedral currently functions as a museum with services held throughout the year. The neoclassical exterior expresses the traditional Russian-Byzantine formula of a Greek-cross ground plan with a large central dome and four subsidiary domes. It is decorated with sculptures and massive granite columns (made of single pieces of red granite). The dome rises over 100 meters high and is gilded in more than 100kg of gold leaf.

The grandness of the exterior seen with the massive columns continues within. The verticality of the pink pillars give the space a sense of warmth which is then contrasted against with the deep blues which bring your eyes high up to the top of the dome. As you move your eyes upwards, large chandeliers hang from the ceiling giving light to the many detailed mosaic icons and paintings that garnish every inch of the walls. It is a space to be in awe and appreciate the craft and detail that went into building and decorating this Russian treasure.

If religions relics aren’t your thing, I would recommend climbing the 262 steps to the colonnade around the drum of the dome, which provides stunning panoramic views of the city.

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