Isaakievskiy Sobor – Saint Isaac’s Cathedral
Peter I – the founder of the new capital of the Russian Empire on the Neva River, decided to immortalize his birthday May 30 with the construction of the cathedral. On this day, May 30, Saint Isaac of Dalmatia was born. Christians revere him as a prophet, as he predicted the death of a ruthless persecutor of Christians the Roman emperor Valens. So the future cathedral was named Saint Isaac’s Cathedral.
Initially, the wooden altar was built opposite the Admiralty in 1710. There was a dome with a cross and a bell. Peter came to the simple wooden church to pray and even married Catherine I in it. But a fire destroyed it in 1717, and then another one was built on the site of the present Senate building.
The project of a stone church was made by German architect G. Mattarnovi, who later created a Kunstkammer project. The clock imported from Amsterdam decorated the bell tower. But in 1735 lightning hit the cross and fire began. The church was burned.
The construction of the third cathedral began during the reign of Catherine the Great. Italian Antonio Rinaldi was hired as an architect. The construction was interrupted by the death of the empress in 1796.
Emperor Paul I ordered to continue the construction of the cathedral. In 1802 there was not a very nice building made of marble and brick. The court didn’t like it and it remained unfinished.
In 1817, already during the reign of the new emperor Alexander I, the cathedral was rebuilt. There was a competition, and the project of an unknown young French painter, Auguste de Montferrand, became the winner. But it was not possible to finish the construction. Alexander I died and was replaced by Emperor Nicholas I.
Finally, the cathedral was finished in 1858. It took 40 years.
The walls are made of brick and granite, inside and out, they are lined with Italian and Finnish marble. The facade is decorated with porticos. It took 400 kg of gold, 500 kg of lapis lazuli, a thousand tons of bronze, and 16 tons of malachite to decorate the interior. Mosaics occupied an area of 6500 sq m.
Construction of the cathedral was photographed and it was one of the first photos in Russia.
Today Isaakievskiy Cathedral in St. Petersburg is the greatest museum-monument.