Cathedrals and Churches, Saint Petersburg
St. Isaac's Cathedral was originally the city's main church and the largest cathedral in Russia. It was built between 1818 and 1858, by the French-born architect Auguste Montferrand, to be one of the most impressive landmarks of the Russian Imperial capital. One hundred and eighty years later the gilded dome of St. Isaac's still dominates the skyline of St. Petersburg. Although the cathedral is considerably smaller than the newly rebuilt Church of Christ the Savior in Moscow, it boasts much more impressive fades and interiors.
St Petersburg's first Armenian church was built between 1771 - 1780. At some stage, the Soviet regime installed a second floor, damaging the church in the process.
Since then, it has been restored to its former glory.
It is a cute little church, worth sticking your head in to have a look if you are in the area.
And the outside of it is so beautiful it is well worth taking a photo or two!
One of the very popular attractions in St Petersburg is the Church on Spilled Blood, also known as the Church of the Resurrection.
Looking quiet out of place in St Petersburg, this Moscow style Church marks the spot where Alexander II was fatally wounded in an assassination attempt in 1881.
Its bulbous domes reflect the light magnificently, particularly on sunset, making this one of the most photographed buildings in the city.
The church was re-opened in 1997 after almost 30 years of restoration. It is open to the public (though quite expensive), and here you can see a huge display of impressive mosaic icons.
Unfortunately we didn't get the chance to go inside, but walked past here several times and always stopped to admire.
Open Thu - Tue 11am till 6pm
The Cathedral of our Lady of Kazan looks very out of place in St Petersburg, and it is quite a surprise when you wander down Nevsky Prospekt and see it for the first time.
It was inspired by St Peters in Rome, and the similarities are very obvious - the fabulous semicircular colonnade and the large domed cathedral.
Apparently, at the time it was built, between 1801 and 1811, the plan had been to build a second, mirror version of the cathedral across on the other side of Nevsky Prospekt. This never happened; a pity....would have been spectacular.
The cathedral is free to visit, and is well worth popping your head in to admire the 80 metre high dome.
St Nicholas Cathedral is a fabulous example of Russian baroque architecture. It is a very impressive building, with 5 golden domes and a beautiful blue and white exterior.
Inside is an impressive lower church for day to day services and an upper church for special events.
A large bell tower stands separate to the cathedral, overlooking the canal.
There is a very peaceful feeling in this great cathedral. I would highly recommend a visit.
Its beauty hidden like a veiled woman, Smolney Convent was shrouded under scaffolding and netting for restoration during our visit. This magnificent Russian Baroque architectural masterpiece is memorable for its deep blue walls, and white and gold domes. Empress Elizabeth commissioned Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli to build it on the occasion of her 40th birthday.
The principal church of the convent is known as the Ressurection Cathedral is the rectangular base housing cells, refectory, library anf four churches topped by main dome attached to two dome towers. Four other dome towers grace the four corners of the total building. Building was suspended following the death of Elizabeth and the Seven Years' War, but Catherine the Great, successor to Elizabeth, ordered the construction to be completed with all speed. Catherine subsequently gifted the convent to the Institute for Girls of Noble Birth.
No longer used as a place of worship, the convent hosts temporary exhibitions and concerts.
Note: the Russian word for 'tar' is smola. On this site, Peter the Great built a 'tar yard' which produced the necessary tar for his fleet of ships. Hence the word Smolney.
A standout in a city chock full of impressive buildings, is the massive and imposing St. Isaac's Cathedral. Designed by French architect, August de Montferrand, the cathedral took 40 years to complete (1818-1858). Topped by a soaring, gilded dome, St. Isaac's dominates the skyline of St. Petersburg even today. A rigorous climb of 300 stairs to the Colonnade observation point just at the bottom of the dome will reward you with an unparralled view.
At ground level, you'll find gray granite block walls and 112 monolithic, red granite columns (quaried in Finland) supporting pediments adorned with relief sculpture and statues. Inside the cathedral breathtaking mosaics, icons, sculpture gilt carving and more than 40 kinds of semi-precious stone such as malachite and lapis lazuli were used by Russian artists to adorn the interior of the cathedral. Located inside the main altar is a famous work in stained glass entitled the "Resurrected Christ." The painting on the interior of the dome is exquisite.
This cathedral was built to accommodate 14,000 standing worshippers! Sadly, the cathedral was closed early in the 1930's leaving this masterpiece of art, misused and neglected and its glory unseen. It reopened relatively recently as a museum, and church services are held here only on ecclesiastical occasions.
The cathedral and colonnade observation point are open Thursday to Tuesday, closed on Wednesdays. The cathedral is open 11am to 7pm with the last admission at 6pm; Colonnade observation point is open 11am to 6pm with the last admission at 5pm.
NO PHOTOGRAPHY OR VIDEO-TAPING INSIDE THE CATHEDRAL!
Adult admission is approx. 50,000 rubles; students 25,000
Colonnade observation point requires an additional 18,000 rubles for adults and 9,000 for students. As elsewhere in the city, foreign tourists pay higher admission prices than Russian citizens. Foreign tourists must buy their admission tickets inside the door on the south facade; Russian citizens may purchase their tickets at the street-level ticket booth.
Locally known as the "Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood", the Church of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ marks the spot where Tzar Alexander II, known for abolishing serfdom in 1861, was murdered by a member of a terrorist group called the "People's Will" on March 13, 1881. The group succeeded assassinating the czar by a hand-thrown bomb. His son & heir, Alexander III was determined to erect a church on this site in memory of his father and furthermore to have it built in the "traditional Russian" style to counter what he saw as the "contaminating Western influence of Petersburg." Construction on this remarkable church began in 1883. Inspired by St. Basil's in Moscow, the church is a quintessential Russian design featuring onion domed towers and exquisite mosaics which lavishly decorate the church inside and out.
After the Revolution of 1917, the church was seriously abused and deprived of much needed maintenance. It was closed for decades when the government of the time did anything and everything to discourage and rid the country of its religious heritage. Part of this movement was the destruction of churches. This particular church survived most probably because it was assigned another use!!
Thankfully, the church was made a branch of St. Isaac's Cathedral around 1970 and it was through funding from St. Isaac's that the "Church of the Savior on the Spilt Blood" was able to be so beautifully restored for all the world to appreciate. The restoration took 25 years and cost 4.6 million rubles --- not an insignificant sum considering the relatively unstable Russian economy of the time period. Thus, an architectural & cultural masterpiece was saved and reopened in August, 1997.
We were not allowed inside the church, (probably because of time constraints) but apparently one of the most impressive works inside is the shrine built on the spot where Alexander II was mortally wounded! As you can see from the accompanying photo, it is quite a busy place and one of the main attractions in St. Petersburg. If you have time, look for the flea market located behind the church for souvenirs. We missed that!
A postcard of the "Church on the Spilt Blood" was sent to me by Natalya2006 who lives in St. Petersburg and who gave me my first look at this magnificent church. It was wonderful to see it in person.
Admission to the church is quite expensive because restoration is expensive and still on-going. Additional fees apply for use of cameras & videos. Unfortunately, for some reason many of my photos posted on this page seem to have deteriorated and become lighter and therefore do not actually portray the rich coloring of the mosaics.
From the expresstorussia.com site come the following details of hours and admission prices (2013) Also for more history, please visit that site
Address and Contact Details:
2b Nab. Kanal Griboedova
Metro: Nevsky Prospect
11:00-19:00 in the summer (May 1st – Sept 15th) 10.00-19.00. Last entrance is an hour before closing.
NOTE: This entry does not list separate prices for Russians versus foreigners but I would assume that exists as it does at other sights in the city.
250 roubles for an adult, 150 roubles for a student with an ISIC, 50 roubles 7-18year old.
Audio guide is available in several languages for 100 roubles.
The Church of the Saviour on the Spilled blood (Church of Resurrection of Christ) is probably the most remarkable sight in St. Petersburg.
It was constructed between 1883-1907 on the site where Tsar Alexander II was murdered in 1881.
During Soviet times the Church was used to store potatoes, but nowadays its mosaic interior can be visited as a museum.
The Church of the Saviour on the Spilled Blood is situated on the Griboedova canal embankment, not far from Nevsky Prospect (Metro: Nevsky Prospect).
This church is known to Petersburgers as the Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood - or even just the Church on the Blood - as it marks the spot where Alexander II was fatally wounded in an assassination attempt on March 1, 1881. Designed by Alfred Parland in the style of 16th and 17th-century Russian churches, the Church of the Resurrection provides a stark (some would say jarring) contrast to its surroundings of Baroque, Classical and Modernist architecture.
The blue and white Smolny Cathedral is one of the architectural masterpieces of the Italian architect Rastrelli.
The construction works for this Baroque style Cathedral were started in 1749. Nowadays the Cathedral is mainly used as a concert hall.
Smolny Cathedral is situated on a small hill on the bank of the river Neva. The nearest Metro stop is Chernyshevskaya, but from there it is still a 20 minute walk.
When you walk along Nevskiy Prospekt (avenue), you can not miss the big Kazan Cathedral.
It was designed by Andrej Voronichins, and in fact it was the intention to make a copy of the St Peter Cathedral in the Vatican (designed by Bernini).
It is a wonderful building, with its 96 Corinth columns.
As the building with all its columns is so big, it really very difficult to make a complete picture of it, with an ordinary digital camera.
The Aleksandr Nevsky Monastery grounds are home to several churches, cemeteries and parks.
The monastery was founded in 1710 and its cemeteries became the most prestigious burial places in Russia. Among many famous Russian people you'll find the graves of Dostoevsky and Tchaikovsky here.
The Aleksandr Nevsky Monastery grounds can be found at Nab. Reki Monastirka on the Neva embankment (Metro: Aleksandra Nevskogo).
Walk along Nevsky Prospect and you won't miss the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, also called the Church on Spilt Blood and the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ. This is the site of the assassination of Alexander II of Russia on March 13, 1881 - I am not sure if it is true, but I was told that the actual site of the murder is where the canopy is at the side of the church, protruding into the canal? His son started the construction of the church in his honor. Legend says that a bomb exploded and Alexander II was initially unhurt, but went out of his carriage and checked things out when a second fatal explosion occured. On a Friday afternoon, I saw a lot of couples being wed there and got some very nice wedding shots. But the area where the souvenir shops are is also a hangout of some gypsie kids who would try to ask some money from you - to which you should just say a stern "nyet" (though it is hard to say no to a begging child, it is for safety reasons). The interior of the church is likewise stunning and you can take pics inside with an extra fee, and also there is a souvenir shop inside as well as outside the church (stalls).
One of the well known churches along Nevsky Prospekt is the German St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran Church.
The neo-Romantic building was constructed between 1833 and 1838. During Soviet times the church was used as a swimming hall; the benches for the spectators can still be seen.
Nowadays the church is again used for religious services and also houses an exhibition about the Germans in St. Petersburg.
St. Peter's Church is located just between Nevsky Prospekt No. 22 and 24 (Metro: Nevsky Prospekt). For more info about sights along
Nevsky Prospekt please read my "General Tips"
and "Off the Beaten Path Tips".