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Saint Isaac's Cathedral | Saint Petersburg, Russia.

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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.


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.

The cathedral took 40 years to construct, under Montferrand's direction, from 1818 to 1858. The building of the cathedral took so long, that it left an idiom to Finnish language: rakentaa kuin Iisakinkirkkoa (To build like the church of Isaac) when speaking of long-term construction projects.

To secure the construction, the cathedral's foundation was strengthened by driving 25,000 piles into the fenland of Saint Petersburg. Innovative methods were created to erect the giant columns of the portico. The construction costs of the cathedral totalled an incredible sum of 1 000 000 gold rubles. Under the Soviet government, the building was stripped of religious trappings. In 1931, it was turned into the Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism, the dove sculpture was removed, and replaced by a Foucault pendulum. On 12 April 1931, the first public demonstration of the Foucault pendulum was held to visualize Copernicus's theory. In 1937, the museum was transformed into the museum of the cathedral, and former collections were transferred to the Museum of the History of Religion (located in the Kazan Cathedral).

During World War II, the dome was painted over in gray to avoid attracting attention from enemy aircraft. On its top, in the skylight, a geodesical intersection point was placed, to determine the positions of German artillery batteries.

With the fall of communism, the museum was removed and regular worship activity has resumed in the cathedral, but only in the left-hand side chapel. The main body of the cathedral is used for services on feast days only.

On 10 January 2017 Georgy Poltavchenko, the Governor of St. Petersburg, announced that the cathedral would be transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church . The key protocols of the transfer were defined by the order issued by St. Petersburg's Committee on Property Relations on 30 December 2016. The document expired on 30 December 2018. The new order can be issued upon request from the Russian Orthodox Church, but no such request has yet been submitted..

The transfer of Saint Isaac's Cathedral in use the ROC agreed in January 2017, but the decision has caused discontent of the townspeople, who defended the status of the museum. The decision of the city authorities was disputed in the courts. Currently, the status of the building is museum. Today, church services are held here only ecclesiastical occasions.
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04/09/2021 11:00 am
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