St. Isaac's Cathedral, St. Petersburg, Russia

The golden dome of the iconic St. Isaac’s Cathedral inspired the dome on the U.S. Capitol Building and is similar to that of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. The dome of St Isaac's has dominated in St. Petersburg's skyline for 150 years. Its elaborate mosaics make it one of the most impressive cathedrals in Russia. The upper levels host a museum and a panoramic view that is sure to blow away any view-loving guest.

Its history is nearly as long as that of St. Petersburg. The original Church of St. Isaac was first ordered by Peter the Great in 1706. The little wooden building, dedicated to the Tsar's patron saint Isaac of Dalmatia hosted his wedding ceremony with Catherine I 6 years later. This wooden church stood for another five years until Peter ordered it to be replaced by a new “Petrine Baroque” stone structure that was completed after the Tsar’s death in 1727.

After suffering significant damage from a poorly constructed foundation and marshy subgrade, the church was replaced by Catherine II the Great, who hired Antonio Rinaldi to construct a new late Italian Baroque cathedral. She liked the design so much that she ordered 5 such churches to be built. The only one still standing today is in Kingisepp, east of the city. The Rinaldi church on St. Isaac’s square was finished with brick by Catherine’s son Paul and consecrated only in 1802, long after Catherine’s death.

It stood for only 7 years before Tsar Alexander I, Catherine’s grandson, held the first competitive bid to replace the structure with a grand cathedral. It took many years before he found a suitable designer, French architect Auguste Montferrand who opted for a full dome constructed of cast iron set upon a drum. It took 40 years to complete the building.

Take a look around Saint Petersburg and spot a glimpse of St Isaac's Cathedral:


The estimated cost Russia spent on the cathedral's construction is unfathomable. About 10000 logs were driven into the ground below it to improve the marshy ground, 882 pounds of gold, 16 tons of malachite and a thousand tons of bronze were used for the interior. The mosaics on the walls cover 7,108 square yards. The great dome's gold plating, that was applied using a process that involved spraying the metal onto its exterior surface, ultimately poisoned to death 60 or so craftsmen.

Yet the sheer size of the cathedral designed to hold 14000 standing guests leaves an unforgettable impression, especially when looking up at the artistic marvel of the great dome from the inside.
St. Isaac's Cathedral, St. Petersburg, Russia
St. Isaac's Cathedral, St. Petersburg, Russia

See it on following tours

Rating:
4.90
4.898591891848582
Wonders of Russia

Wonders of Russia

13 days / Private tour
Moscow Irkutsk Saint Petersburg

COMPLIMENTARY VISAS Explore the most incredible places in Russia and discover the best of Moscow, Irkutsk, St. Petersburg and the gorgeous Pearl of Siberia - Lake Baikal.

Rating: 4.88
From
$4,998
Definitive Treasures of Two Capitals

Definitive Treasures of Two Capitals

11 days / Private tour
Moscow Saint Petersburg

Cross Russia off your bucket list with the ultimate private itinerary, built around your preferences. Enjoy all the unmissable sights with local pros, stay at best 5-star central hotels, private transfers, free visas, and plenty of free time to explore on your own.

Rating: 4.93
From
$3,818
UNESCO Tour

UNESCO Tour

13 days / Private tour
Moscow Suzdal Yaroslavl Kazan Saint Petersburg

COMPLIMENTARY VISAS Set off on an outstanding 13-day tour dedicated to Russia's top UNESCO World Heritage Sites from Moscow to Kazan to Saint Petersburg.

Rating: 4.80
From
$4,881
Definitive Russia

Definitive Russia

16 days / Private tour
Moscow Sergiev Posad Suzdal Vladimir Saint Petersburg Kizhi Island
Craving for an in-depth exploration of Russia? This private Russian itinerary is what you've been looking for: included Russian visas, best hotels, top guided tours of the Golden Ring, Karelia region, Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Rating: 4.89
From
$5,914
Treasures of Three Capitals

Treasures of Three Capitals

13 days / Private tour
Moscow Kazan Saint Petersburg

COMPLIMENTARY VISAS Experience the best of Russia's three capitals: the gorgeous Kremlins of Moscow and Kazan and exquisite palaces of St. Petersburg during the 13-day private tour.

Rating: 4.82
From
$4,198
Russia + Scandinavian Capitals

Russia + Scandinavian Capitals

16 days / Private tour
Copenhagen Oslo Flam Bergen Stockholm Helsinki Saint Petersburg Moscow

RUSSIAN VISAS Treat yourself to the award-winning program that includes the highlights of Scandinavian cities and fjords combined with Russia's two stunning capitals.

Rating: 4.96
From
$8,281