The grand dome of St Isaac's Cathedral in St Petersburg rising above the surrounding rooftops

St Isaac's Cathedral Tours and Travels

About St Isaac's Cathedral

St Petersburg's attractive skyline is dominated by the colossal golden dome of St Isaac's Cathedral, one of the largest in the world and a stunning focal point from various parts of the city. For almost a century it was the largest cathedral in Russia, now playing second fiddle to the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow upon its completion in 2000, yet St Isaac's Cathedral is largely considered one of imperial Russia's most impressive monuments thanks to its lavish interior and pure gold-plated dome.

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Work began on the cathedral in 1818 and took 40 years to complete with an impressive 100kg of gold leaf covering the 21.8-metre-tall dome and red granite exterior columns weighing 80 tonnes each. Behind the bronze doors is an elaborately ornamented interior large enough to accommodate 14,000 worshippers with detailed mosaics and masterful paintings decorating the walls. The remarkable iconostasis (the icon wall that separates the altar from the rest of the church) is decorated with eight malachite and two lapis lazuli columns, the deep green and blue of the semiprecious stones made even more vivid by the lustrous gold plated icons.

Since 1928 the Cathedral has served as a museum with exhibits detailing the construction of the monumental building though it now also functions as an active place of worship with services held here on major religious holidays. It's open to visitors between 10.30am and 6pm every day except Wednesday and it's highly recommended that you purchase the additional ticket for the colonnade that winds around the drum of the dome and provides wonderful panoramic views of St Petersburg.

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