1818 – 1858. Architect: Auguste Ricard de Montferrand
At 333 feet, St. Isaac’s is the fourth tallest domed structure in Europe after St. Peter’s in Rome, St. Paul’s in London and the Santa Maria del Flore in Florence. The cruciform neoclassical cathedral was designed by the French architect Auguste Montferrand, a pupil of Napoleon’s personal architect Charles Percier. Montferrand was invited to Russia by Alexander I upon his triumphant entry into Paris after Napoleon’s defeat. The cathedral took forty years to build and was completed during the reign of Alexander II.
Once the major Orthodox cathedral of Imperial St. Petersburg, the imposing edifice features four porticos decorated with Corinthian columns of solid red granite and impressive bronze statuary on the pediments. The cathedral is crowned with an immense gilded dome visible at a great distance. The interior decoration of the cathedral is stunningly sumptuous, featuring fourteen kinds of marble, jasper, lapis lazuli, malachite, gilt stucco, frescoes, stained glass and mosaics. The cathedral could accommodate fourteen thousand worshippers. Turned into a museum during the Soviet period, in the 1990s the cathedral once again opened its doors to Orthodox believers.