Saint Isaac's Cathedral

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Isaac's Cathedral

9.8

Saint Isaac's Cathedral or Isaakievskiy Sobor (Russian: Исаа́киевский Собо́р) is a large architectural landmark cathedral that currently functions as a museum with occasional church services in Saint Petersburg, Russia. It is dedicated to Saint Isaac of Dalmatia, a patron saint of Peter the Great, who had been born on the feast day of that saint. It was originally built as a cathedral but was turned into a museum by the Soviet government in 1931 and has remained a museum ever since, with church services held in a side chapel since the 1990's. In 2017, the Governor of Saint Petersburg offered to transfer the cathedral back to the Russian Orthodox Church, but this was not accomplished due to the protests of St Petersburg citizens opposing the offer.

The church on St Isaac's Square was ordered by Tsar Alexander I, to replace an earlier structure by Vincenzo Brenna, and was the fourth consecutive church standing at this place. A specially appointed commission examined several designs, including that of the French-born architect Auguste de Montferrand (1786–1858), who had studied in the atelier of Napoleon's designer, Charles Percier. Montferrand's design was criticised by some members of the commission for the dry and allegedly boring rhythm of its four identical pedimented octastyle porticos. It was also suggested that despite gigantic dimensions, the edifice would look squat and not very impressive. The members of the commission, which consisted of well-known Russian architects, were also particularly concerned by necessity to build a new huge building on the old unsecure foundation. The emperor, who favoured the ponderous Empire style of architecture, had to step in and solve the dispute in Montferrand's favour.

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