Around Isaakievskaya Ploshchad
St Isaac’s Cathedral.
The imposing St Isaac’s Cathedral, standing not far from the shore of the Neva River, is one of the world’s largest churches. Architect Auguste de Montferrand’s vision took 40 years to complete with construction
lasting from 1818-1858. Like most things in St Petersburg, the cathedral is named in honor of Peter the Great: his birthday was on St Isaac of Dalmatia’s feast day. Whether viewed from the traffic-choked Isaac’s Square side or from across the beautifully-tended gardens that lead from the cathedral to the Neva, St Isaac’s is a striking sight. Inside, the church is outrageously ornate with beautiful paintings, mosaics and gold gilding. Many respected foreign and Russian artisans had a hand in its decoration. Now a museum rather than a working cathedral, entry to St Isaac’s is a little steep at 270R ($10). Making good use of the St Isaac’s 100 meter plus height, there is a separate entrance to the cathedral’s colossal colonnade. A 150R ($5.50) entrance fee and a hike up the incessant spiral staircase is well worthwhile, as the summit holds the most splendid panoramic views of St Petersburg in the city. You could skip St Isaac’s interior but the colonnade is a must.
Directions: Isaakievskaya Ploshchad, #1. Tel: 315-9732. Open: 10:00-18:00. Colonnade also open 19:00-23:00 in summer.
The Bronze Horseman.
The symbol of St Petersburg – the statue of the city’s
instigator stands resplendently overlooking the Neva River, with St Isaac’s Cathedral as a beautiful backdrop. The monument to Peter the Great has stood in its prominent position since it was unveiled in 1783. Known as The Bronze Horseman, the statue was mainly the work of Etienne Falconet and its creation was ordered by Catherine the Great. It was one of the many projects she undertook to show she was a good Russian, despite being German. The statue’s1700-odd ton pedestal was carved from a single piece of granite sourced from near St Petersburg.
Directions: he Bronze Horseman stands in Senate Square between the Admiralty and the Senate Building.
Monument to Tsar Nikolai I.
In the shadow of the grand St Isaac’s Cathedral stands another creation of Auguste de Montferrand.
The statue was unveiled in June 1859 and its design is most notable for the fact that the horse is balanced on just two legs. For obscure trivia buffs, this was the first equestrian statue in the world to achieve such a design. This part of the sculpture, the horse and Tsar, was built by Peter Klodt while the lower part of the structure, featuring four women and other adornments, was made by Robert Zaleman. The four women seated around the pedestal are Tsar Nikolai’s wife and three daughters.
Directions: The monument takes center stage on Isaakievskaya Ploshchad.
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