2019-02-06 / Features

Off the Beaten Trail: St. Isaac’s Cathedral of St. Petersburg, Russia

By Catherine Tsounis

Panoramic view of Florence, Italy like St. Petersburg, Russia with a dominating Duomo.

All photos by Despina Siolas, MD./Ph.D.Panoramic view of Florence, Italy like St. Petersburg, Russia with a dominating Duomo. All photos by Despina Siolas, MD./Ph.D.The Florence Cathedral, formally the Cathedral di Santa Maria del Fiore, dominates the skyline of this Northern Italian city. The skyline of St. Petersburg, Russia is shaped by the Russian duomo: St. Issacs Cathedral. We saw both cities on recent group tours. 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 AugusteMontferrand, to be one of the most impressive landmarks of the Russian Imperial capital.1

Russians believe in creating oversized buildings, sculptures and art” is a theme I have heard Panoramic view of St. Petersburg Russia with Duomo of St. Issacs’s Cathedral.
Panoramic view of St. Petersburg Russia with Duomo of St. Issacs’s Cathedral. for years in New York City. St. Isaacs Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia is spacious, giving one the impression of a Russian “Hagia Sophia” of Istanbul, Turkey. The large dome, and iconography are amazing. The cathedral was near our hotel of Domina Prestige. 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. The cathedral can accommodate 14,000 worshipers.

St. Issacs’s Cathedral.St. Issacs’s Cathedral.The day we visited, we were the only English speakers, besides the museum personnel. Religious pilgrims worshipped with devotion. Greek columns and a gold dome gave the church a Greek/Roman look. Angels dressed in Greek dress were in the front entrance (northern pediment) showing the Resurrection of Christ. The western pediment is from Byzantine ‘Roman history: “The Meeting of St. Isaac of Dalmatian with Emperor Theodosius”. Saint Isaac the Confessor (died May 30, 383 A.D.), founder of the Dalmatian Monastery in Constantinople, was a Christian monk who is honored as a saint and confessor.

Shrine to the Wonderworking Tikhvin Icon of the Theotokos.
Shrine to the Wonderworking Tikhvin Icon of the Theotokos. He is sometimes referred to as Isaac the Dalmatian, not because he came from Dalmatia, but because of the monastery which he founded. There is a Shrine to the Wonderworking Tikhvin Icon of the Theotokos.2 I am impressed with Russia holding on to our Byzantine heritage that is being wiped out by global interests in the former Byzantine Empire region.
The interior is adorned with incredibly detailed mosaic icons, paintings and columns made of malachite and lapis lazuli. A large, brightly colored stained-glass window of the "Resurrected Christ" takes pride of place inside the main altar. The cathedral has three altars.

The central one is dedicated to Saint Isaac of Dalmatia; the left-side altar is dedicated to St. Isaac.
St. Isaac. Saint Alexander Nevsky; and the one on the right is dedicated to Saint Catherine. The icon of Our Lady of Tikhvin is one of the cathedral's most revered treasures. Currently, church services are held in only one of the cathedral's chapels, while the main altar has been used for church services only on major religious holidays. Priority has been given to sightseeing tours.

With a height of almost 330 feet, St. Isaac’s Cathedral is the city's second tallest building, after the Peter and Paul Cathedral. There is access to the colonnade and the observation deck, one of the most visited tourist attractions. Decoration of the cathedral’s interior required 900 pounds of gold, 16 tons of malachite, 1,100 pounds of lapis lazuli, and 1,000 tons of bronze
The cathedral is decorated with large statues of angels, evangelists and apostles. There are 24 sculptures of angels and archangels just on the balustrade of the main dome.3

St. Issacs’s Cathedral interior.
St. Issacs’s Cathedral interior. Large spaces, Greek columns, iconography statues stained glass Interior iconography.
Interior iconography. gave the tourist an insight of Imperial Russia, that created this masterpiece at the expense of the average person. Is life different in 2019 Russia? Communism does not exist. Capitalism is taking its roots, after free enterprise was crushed for several generations. A devotion to Christianity in the Russian Orthodox Church with Byzantine influences radiates throughout Russia, with families remembering their ancestor’s faith.

References:

1.                  http://www.saint-petersburg.com/cathedrals/st-isaacs-cathedral/
2.                  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_of_Dalmatia
3.                  https://www.rbth.com/multimedia/2017/01/17/10-reasons-why-st-isaacs-cath...

Links:

http://www.saint-petersburg.com/virtual-tour
https://www.colourbox.com/image/saint-isaac-s-cathedral-in-st-petersburg...


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