On my short visit to Saint Petersburg last December, I was captivated by the Russian Orthodox Cathedrals and their beautiful architecture. Of the nine major cathedrals in the city, I was able to see only four.
My favorite, with its Russian Revival architecture, is the Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood, (also called The Cathedral of the Resurrection (The Saviour-on-the-Blood)). The Cathedral, reflected below in the Kanal Griboedova that runs beside it, is spectacular.
Built on the site of the assassination of Tsar Alexander II of Russia, it was completed in 1907. The church was looted and sustained heavy damage after the Russian Revolution and closed until the 1930s. During World War II, the church was used as a morgue for those who died of starvation during the Siege of Leningrad. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables. Today, the Cathedral and mosaic filled interior are fully restored after a 27-year effort. It has not been reconsecrated so it functions solely as a museum. Still – so beautiful . . .
The Cathedral and Kanal Griboedova at dusk.
And again as the sun comes up.
The Cathedral is classic Russian Revival Architecture.
The interior . . . every surface covered in mosaic.
The Naval Cathedral of St. Nicholas is a baroque masterpiece consecrated in 1760. On the date we visited the Cathedral, an especially precious icon was on view. Hundreds of devout Russians waited on queue for what must have been hours to look upon the icon and kiss it.
St. Nicholas Cathedral is one of a very few cathedrals in the city that was not closed in Soviet times.
Kazan Cathedral is dedicated to Our Lady of Kazan, a venerated icon representing the Virgin Mary as the protector and patroness of the city of Kazan. The Cathedral is modeled after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome – despite the disapproval of the Russian Orthodox Church to creating a replica of a Catholic basilica in Russia.
After the patriotic War of 1812 (Napoleon’s invasion of Russia), in 1815, keys to seventeen cities and eight fortresses were brought by the victorious Russian army from Europe and placed in the cathedral’s sacristy. They remain there today. Following the Russian Revolution in 1917, the cathedral was closed. In the 1930’s it was repurposed as the Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism. Religious services resumed in 1992.
Saint Isaac’s Cathedral, also called The Cathedral of St. Isaac of Dalmatia, completed in 1858, is named for the patron saint of Peter the Great. Under communist rule, all religious symbols were removed and the Cathedral was turned into the Antireligious Museum. During WWII, the cupola was painted over in dull grey to avoid it being a bombing target. Today, the Cathedral is a religious museum for the Russian Orthodox Church and a portion is open for worship.
We were able to climb to the loggia under the cupola of the Cathedral – venture outside and take in the view. This meant climbing the stairs below and venturing onto a shaky metal catwalk – made more so by the blasts of icy wind gusting up from the river. It was pretty scary.
We climbed up on the afternoon of our last day and the sun peeked out for an hour or so for the first time since our arrival. Combined with the shifting clouds, this made for some spectacular light.
A final image of the inside of the dome at Saint Isaac’s Cathedral.
Saint Petersburg is a beautiful city. The architecture is amazing. Lots of green space. A fast flowing river. I can only imagine how beautiful it is in spring. Five days is not enough. I will have to go back . . .
All the best,