St Petersburg Major Churches Mosque and Temple


The Cathedral of St. Isaac of Dalmatia

Built from 1818-1858, St. Isaac's Cathedral is the largest Orthodox church is St. Petersburg. The building was designed by Auguste Montferrend and named for St. Isaac of Dalmatia, the "patron" of Peter the Great. The gilded cupola of the Cathedral, which dominates the skyline of the city, stands 101.5 meters in the air making it the fifth highest cathedral in Europe. The collonade offers visitors the option of climbing the 300 stairs to the observation deck to see the breathtaking view of the city. The facades of the building are decorated with 112 monolithic columns made from Karelian granite. The outside of the building is covered in beautiful sculptures including 24 monumental bronze angels.

The inside of St. Isaac's is just as breathtaking as it's exterior. The columns in the portico of the cathedral are made of single pieces of red granite that each weigh about 80 tons. Many of the church's icons are exquisite mosaics and the iconostasis is decorated with 8 malachite and 2 lapis lazuli columns. In 1928 the church, which can hold 14,000 worshippers, suspended its religious services until the 1990's when they were reinstated on major religious holidays. Today, in addition to being open to the public as a museum, the cathedral continues to offer festive services.

1 Isaakiyevskaya Ploshad

The Cathedral of the Apostles
Sts. Peter and Paul
Peter and Paul Fortress 

This cathedral was the first Orthodox church in St. Petersburg and was built from 1712-1733 on Zayachy Island within the Peter and Paul Fortress. The cathedral was designed by Domenico Trezzini and has a 122.5 meter high bell-tower, which is surmounted by a gilt copper spire crowned with a weather vane. The weather vane depicts an angel holding a cross. The interior of the cathedral is decorated with artificial marble and gilded carvings. The gilded iconostasis is famous for it's intricate Russian carvings, it is made of the wood from a lime tree and was built without the use of nails. The altar is a symbol of the power of Russia and resembles a triumphal arch. The cathedral is also famous for its collection of Russian paintings, the 43 icons depicting "The Life and Passions of Christ" are both unique and beautiful. In 1725, the funeral service for Peter the Great took place in a special chapel within the cathedral. Today the cathedral remains the official burial place of the Russian Tsars. Inside the cathedral there are 32 tomb stones made of semiprecious stones, 30 are made of white Carera marble and 2 (marking the graves of Alexander II and his wife) are made of jasper and rodonite. 

The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity  - St. Alexander Nevsky Lavra

Built in 1710, according to the order of Peter the Great, the St. Alexander Nevsky Monastery was founded to commemorate the victory of the Russian troops in the Neva battle of 1240. The main church of the Alexander Nevsky Monastery, The Holy Trinity Cathedral, was designed by Ivan Starov and built from 1776-1790. Today the cathedral is a functioning Russian orthodox church, however it has endured difficult times in the past. In 1933 the cathedral was closed along with the other churches within the monastery after the buildings were taken over by city authorities. Both the relic of St. Alexander Nevsky and the cathedral's sarcophagus were removed at this time. After the persistent demands of many supporters the cathedral was returned to the Orthodox Church in 1956 and reconsecrated on September 12, 1957. Finally in 1989 Alexander Nevsky's relic was solemnly replaced and November 25, 1996 marked the official date of the monastery's rebirth.  1 Alexander Nevsky Ploshad

The Cathedral of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God

Kazan Cathedral was built between 1801-1811 by the architect Andrei Voronikhin who was greatly inspired by the architecture
of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. The Cathedral was built as a Russian version of St. Peter's and was supposed to serve as the main church in Russia. Following the war of 1812, the cathedral became a monument to Russian victory and the banners captured from enemy troops were displayed within the church. The cathedral was named after an icon of Our Lady of Kazan, that was believed to produce miracles, which the church housed until the early 1930s. In 1929 the Bolsheviks closed the church and services were no longer held there. Beginning in 1932 the building housed the collections of the Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism. Recently, within the last few years, religious services have resumed at the cathedral, however the cathedral still shares
the grounds with the Museum of the History of Religion (no longer including Atheism).
2  Kazanskaya Ploshad 

The Smolny Cathedral of the Resurrection

The Smolny Cathedral, which was built from 1748-1769, is one of the most amazing examples of the work of Bartolomeo Rastrelli (architect of the Winter Palace, Yekaterininsky Palace in Pushkin, Grand Palace in Peterhof, and other major landmarks). The cathedral is at the center of the convent which was built for Elizabeth, the daughter of Peter the Great. The funding for the convent which was supplied by Elizabeth was quickly cut when her reign came to an end. Thus, Rastrelli was unable to build the huge bell tower that he had originally planned or to finish the interiors of the building. It was not until 1832-1835 that the interiors were finally completed and since by this time architectural styles had changed, the interior was completed in the neo-classical style which differs sharply from the exterior facade. Today the Smolny Cathedral is used mostly as a concert hall which houses both performances and exhibitions of Russian church music. Rastrelli Ploshad

The Cathedral of the Resurrection
(Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood)

The Cathedral of the Resurrection, which is also known as the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, was erected in memory of Tsar Alexander II. On March 1, 1881, the Tsar was assassinated by a terrorist (I. Grinevitskij) on the exact spot of the church's current location. The church was designed by Alfred Parland and was built from 1883-1907 with money donated by the royal family as well as private donors. Both the inside and outside of the building are decorated with ornate mosaics designed by a group of prominent Russian artists which included Victor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov, and Andrei Riabushkin. The mosaics were created from original works done by the painters (Vasnetsov and Nesterov) using an array of semi precious stones.

During the 1930s the church was closed due to the destruction taking place nationwide as the Bolsheviks stormed and ruined many churches. The Cathedral of the Resurrection was reopened in August of 1997 after almost 3 decades of careful restoration. Today the Cathedral is fully restored and remains open to visitors.  2  Naberezhnaya Kanala Griboyedova

St Petersburg Mosque
7  Kronverksky Prospekt

Moslems have lived in St Petersburg since the foundation of the city on the mouth of the Neva River. Tatars from Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod and Kasimov were first brought to the city by the order of Peter the Great.  The Tatars worked on the construction of the city and in half a year some of them earned enough money to build their own houses. This is how the Tatar Sloboda (settlement) and Tatar Market emerged opposite the Kronverk of Peter and Paul Fortress. Despite the presence of Moslems in St. Petersburg, the permission to build the city's first mosque was not granted until July of 1907 when Emperor Nikolay II gave permission for the construction of the mosque. The following autumn the construction project was approved. The building of St. Petersburg's mosque was planned by both the architect Nickolay Vasiliev and engineer Stepan Krichinsky and supervised by the academic, Alexander von Gogen. According to the plans the inside and outside decoration of the Mosque would repeat the original style of The Central Asian Mosque of the Tamerlan epoch. The facade would combine both gorgeous Asian ornaments and turquoise mosaic.

The opening ceremony of the building took place on February 3, 1910. The mosque has been visited by prominent Moslem figures such as Emir of  Bukhara, ambassadors of Turkey and Persia, the head of Moslem party in the State Duma, and others.

The Synagogue
2  Lermonovsky Prospekt

The Big Choral Synagogue is one of the most beautiful Synagogues in Russia and Europe. It is located in the picturesque city district next to The Mariinsky Theatre and State Conservatory. Situated in the historic center of St.Petersburg, it is an architectural monument of federal importance and a major tourist attraction. The Synagogue has a number of qualified guides on staff and inside the building there is a photo exhibition dedicated to its history. Those who are interested in the past and present lives of St.Petersburg Jews are welcome to go on a tour.

The Synagogue is 47 meters high, with the total area equaling 3200 square meters. It was built in the Moresque style, and its characteristic features are the grand horseshoe arch of the main portal, the lattice window crosses, and the elegant minarets. The Synagogue's hall accommodates 1200 parishioners. From three sides it is encircled by women's galleries and above the main entrance there is an organ balcony. In the eastern part of the hall there is the Ark of the Covenant (Aron Codesh) where the Pentateuch scrolls are kept. An eternal candle (Neir Tomid) shimmers in the altar arch. The ornamented wooden balustrade fences in the Bima-dais from which the Tora is read during divine services.

The Buddhist Temple
91 Primorsky Prospekt

There is a building located in the Staraya Derevnia area that will immediately catch your eye. It stands out because of its architecture, dimensions, and symbolism. It is the Buddhist Temple, the only one in all of Russia that fully corresponds to the Tibetan canon. Its northern wall is a monolith, and the southern facade is decorated with a four-pillar portico. The granite coating along with glazed bricks and gilding, integrate the severe beauty of Tibetan architecture and the elegance of the European modernist style of the beginning of the 20th century. The entrance to the temple is at its southern side based on traditional placement. Visitors who enter the building first finds themselves in the main hall which is naturally lit through the special glassed-in bay in the ceiling. The northern part of the temple (Gonkam) is where the altar is situated. The Gonkam is considered to be the most sacred place. In front of the altar there is a throne for the Head Lama; the seats for the rest of the religious leaders are between columns along the walls. All of the elements depicting traditional buddhist symbolism were made in East Tibet and given to the temple in 1915. The construction of the temple was completed in 1913. The same year the first service took place, it was dedicated to the 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty. The ceremony of the temple's consecration was held in 1915. It was attended by Dalai Lama XIII, the King of Siam Pama IV Vachirowooda, and representatives of the Russian government. The ceremony was conducted by the temple's senior, lama Agwan Dorjiev.