Churches and cathedrals of St. Petersburg
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Among the pieces of magnificent architectural heritage of the Northern Venice, a special place is occupied by Orthodox churches, cathedrals and monasteries, which amaze citizens and guest of St. Petersburg with their stylistic diversity. Visiting some of the most famous cathedrals has always been a traditional point of any excursion program. And now we are glad to offer thoroughly elaborated tour that entirely focuses on the city’s most significant churches and cathedrals.
Churches and cathedrals of St. Petersburg represent a unique collection of architectural masterpieces of different epochs and styles. Peter and Paul, St. Isaac’s, Smolny, Kazansky and other famous cathedrals will impress anyone with the grandeur of the marble and granite walls, the dizzying height of the columns and beautiful mosaic icons, based on sketches by famous artists. Restored Orthodox churches of St. Petersburg shine with splendor as in the old days, delivering the atmosphere of the past so clearly, that once in captivity of golden painted walls, perfect angelic silhouettes and glowing iconostasis, one tends to forget about everything and submit to the power of divine beauty.
During the tour of St. Petersburg cathedrals, our experienced guide will introduce you to the Orthodox Church canons and specific traits, inherent for the Russian Christians of certain eras. You will be able to see churches in all their glory, enjoy the magnificent religious architecture, admire splendid interior decoration and learn more about Orthodox spiritual heritage. Our tour gives a unique opportunity to visit the most famous churches and cathedrals of St. Petersburg in just one day: get acquainted with the Alexander Nevsky Lavra and its rich history, find out the most interesting architectural features of the Kazan Cathedral, visit the unique marine Nicholas Church, beautiful Savior on Spilled Blood and other prominent cathedrals of the Northern capital.
Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli began to construct the majestic Smolny Cathedral during the reign of Empress Elizabeth, but it was completed by Vasily Stasov almost a hundred years later, under Emperor Nicholas I. This temple is considered to be the gem of St. Petersburg baroque architecture. With its picturesque, expressive compositions and magnificent outer decoration, Smolny Cathedral is one of the peaks of world religious architecture.
The building of Smolny Cathedral is located in the center of the monastery courtyard, surrounded by two-storey residential buildings and towers. It is said that another famous architect, Giacomo Quarenghi, when passed by the cathedral, each time took his hat off in reverence before the genius of Rastrelli.
Peter and Paul Cathedral
The Peter and Paul Cathedral was one of the first churches in the city on the Neva River. It is almost the same age as the city itself – if the date of the laying of St. Petersburg was 27 May, 1703, the date of birth of the Peter and Paul Cathedral was 12 July of the same year. Since that time the cathedral has not only been the city’s symbol but also the spiritual embodiment of all the ideas of the great reformer of the Russian Empire, Peter I.
The cathedral houses the remains of all the members of the Romanov royal dynasty (with the exception of Ivan VI and Peter II). The burial of all emperors, empresses, grand dukes and duchesses is designed in gorgeous white marble and always attracts a lot of visitors.
St. Isaac's Cathedral
St. Isaac’s Cathedral is the place where all roads in St. Petersburg lead to. The doors of this unique monument, that unites the museum and the church under one roof, are always open to visitors. Built by the architect Auguste Montferrand, St. Isaac’s Cathedral is an outstanding monument of late Russian classicism. The fabulous interior of the cathedral presents all kinds of monumental-decorative art – painting, sculpture, mosaic and colored facing stone. The main iconostasis of the cathedral is decorated with malachite and lazurite columns and in the main altar there is a non-traditional decoration for the orthodox cathedrals, a stained glass window of the “Resurrected Christ”. Besides that, colonnade of the cathedral, which is 43 meters high, offers a breathtaking view of the city center.
The majestic Kazan Cathedral is one of the largest religious buildings of the Northern capital. The wings of the colonnade spread from the center of the structure in both directions. The construction makes a truly great impression. Internal and external decoration of the temple is also striking: 56 magnificent columns made of Finnish pink granite and decorated with gilded Corinthian capitals, along with the reliefs made of unique limestone of yellowish color, create a feeling of spaciousness and grandeur.
During the Patriotic war of 1812 Mikhail Kutuzov went to command Russian troops from the cathedral and a year later he was buried here with military honors.
Savior on Spilled Blood
The Cathedral of Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the most beautiful and magnificent cathedrals, not only in St. Petersburg but throughout the whole Russia. It is both an Orthodox church and a memorial monument that reminds of the tragic pages in the Russian history. It was erected by the order of Alexander III and the decision of the Synod on site, where 1 March 1881 the revolutionist Grinevitsky mortally wounded Emperor Alexander II, who was known as the Tsar-Liberator for abolishing serfdom.
Located in the historical center of St. Petersburg, the Savior on Spilled Blood impresses with its monumentality and grandeur. The church interior also surprises with its beauty and luxury: you will certainly be astonished by the colorful tiles, a collection of gems, enamel, gilded copper and marble. And don’t forget to examine beautiful frescoes and iconostasis, painted by some of the best Russian painters.
St. Nicholas Marine Cathedral
St. Nicholas Cathedral is a majestic and beautiful architectural masterpiece of the Russian baroque era. Local citizens genially call it “Nicola the Wet” or “Nicola the Marine”. St. Nicholas church was originally conceived as a cathedral of the Russian Navy which means that here one could commemorate those who died in the sea (after all, such sailors don’t have their graves) and receive a blessing before starting a new sea campaign. Liturgies on the laying of new ships are also often served here.
The cathedral stands in the beautiful part of old St. Petersburg, among the trees, in the peaceful park that grew here in the early nineteenth century on the site of the former military parade ground. And nearby there is an amazing blue and white colored bell tower of the cathedral, with a golden spire and a cross decorated with white cherubs.
Alexander Nevsky Lavra
The name of this holy place is associated with important events in the history of Russia. In 1240 Grand Prince and military commander Alexander Yaroslavich won a major victory in the war with the Swedes on the Neva River, for which he was called Nevsky. Later he was canonized by the Orthodox Church as the Patron Saint of Russia.
Alexander Nevsky Lavra represents one of the most beautiful architectural ensembles of St. Petersburg. Tourists come to see the beauty and austerity of the monastic buildings and to lay their heads in front of graves of prominent figures of Russia, that were buried here. Alexander Nevsky monastery has not lost its spiritual role in spite of all persecutions of the Soviet period and still functions as a male monastery in our days.
Ismailovsky (Trinity) Cathedral
Holy Trinity Cathedral is located on Izmailovsky prospect, near the Fontanka River, in a small area surrounded by urban development. On the vast territory between modern Moscow and Ismailovsky prospects in the 19th century the barracks of the Imperial life-guard Ismailovsky regiment were located, hence the name of the cathedral.
The magnificent white-stone shrine and its five amazing blue colored domes with a scattering of gold stars are visible from many points of the city. The cathedral at Ismailovsky prospect is a witness to the Russian military history and one of the most monumental religious buildings in the Northern capital.
WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS
- Take a fascinating 5-hours journey through the profound heritage and present of the Russian Orthodox Church
- Be amazed by monumental religious architecture in all its diversity
- Get impressed by splendid and luxurious interior decoration of Orthodox cathedrals
- Visit the burial place of Romanov Royal Family members
- Carefully elaborated route that includes the most significant churches and cathedrals of St. Petersburg
- A friendly professional guide that will help you to get acquainted with Orthodox Church canons and features
- 8 cathedrals that astonish with their outside and inside beauty and grandeur
- Monastic ordination
The Cathedral looks fascinating due to its monumentality on the outside and the amazing beauty inside. The Kazan Cathedral was built and named in honor of the Kazan icon of the Mother of God, which Is placed inside the temple and is considered to be one of the most revered icons in Russia. So the queue of people wishing to touch the shrine is a common thing here. Read more
When you are a regular traveler, it is difficult to explore one of the most beautiful cities in the world — Saint-Petersburg — in a short period of time. A great opportunity to literally look over the whole city look is to visit one of the viewing points of the Northern Capital. The panoramic terraces of cathedrals, museums, restaurants and hotels will allow you to combine a walk and a tour, arrange a romantic date and make great photos. Read more
The Mikhailovsky (or the Engineer’s) castle became infamous immediately after the death of Emperor Paul I, who was strangled in his bedroom in the castle. And no wonder the palce gained bad reputation, since Palace coups and the Emperor’s murder were not a common thing for Russian Empire after all. Read more