Cathedrals and churches in St Petersburg Russia are stunning architectural masterpieces built in the Russian Baroque and Neo-Classical style during the so-called age of enlightenment. Once inside, you will get an intriguing and engaging insight into Russian culture and history - plus you will be amazed by their beauty.
Many of these impressive churches and cathedrals were designed 200-300 years ago, following the taste
of the Tsars and a few conservative aristocratic clans. They were built by the hands and creativity of great Russian and foreign architects, such as A. Voronikhin, O. Monferan, A. Parland and F.B. Rastrelli, who gave such a grandeur
to the principal buildings of Russia’s new capital.
However, you should also know that during the October Revolution in 1917 a lot of orthodox churches in St Petersburg were blown up and destroyed, while other, luckier ones were turned into museums or used as cargo houses.
Why? Because the Communist political party of that time was against any freedom of worship.
So after the bloody Russian Revolution and until the end of 1980s, there were only a few Russian churches left in Leningrad because of the soviet regime. But after the beginning of Perestroika, all the churches, those ruined or not, were returned to the St Petersburg Diocese and the process of their revival finally began.
Today, thanks to a previous plan of
reconstruction and renovation, which is still ongoing, Petersburg
residents have many nice places of worship to go, while visitors like you
have a huge and varied list of picturesque churches in St Petersburg to
So once you are in the imperial city, make sure you visit some of our beautiful St Petersburg churches.You will not be disappointed!☺
That said, there are over forty cathedrals and churches in St Petersburg.
So like all other St Petersburg attractions, it is usually impossible to see all of them, especially if you have only a few days. Therefore, to help you better plan your city sightseeing, here we have listed the main and most interesting churches in St Petersburg that you should not miss.
To get started just click on the links below.
Remember... whether you long for a peaceful moment away from all the fuss or churches just spike your interest, you are sure to find a suitable church to visit in the Northern Capital of Russia.☺
With a height of 101.5 meters, a base over 10.000 square meters and a diameter of the dome of 25 meters, St Isaac’s is still considered one of the largest and most decorative cathedrals in the world.
Adorned with gold trim, mosaics and paintings, this imposing cathedral will definitely amaze you from the inside and impress you from outside.
If it is a clear day don't miss the dome's top; from here you will get
the best panoramic view of the city. Absolutely a must-see!
Located on the famous Nevsky Prospekt, the Kazan Cathedral, which was modelled on St. Peter's Rome, is one of the great masterpieces of Russian Classicism and among the largest places of worship in Russia.
Built from 1801 to 1811 to house the miracle-working Icon Our Lady of Kazan, today this cathedral is both a quiet place of worship and a classical architectural landmark. Surely the cathedral may be more impressive from the outside than from the inside, but nevertheless this place of prayer and contemplation is full history and worth visiting.
The Smolny Cathedral, painted in white and blue with grey cupolas, was one of the tallest edifice from Elizabeth's reign (93.7 meters); while today it is a majestic and magnificent Baroque style building open to the public.
Built as a convent in 1748 to educate young noblemen and women, the cathedral offers a concert and exhibition hall with an exhibition of Smolny's history on display. If you plan a visit here, we recommend you go up to the top of the cathedral, where the stunning domes are, and enjoy a different view of the city.
Honestly, the cathedral is one of the most gorgeous churches in St Petersburg after the famous church of the resurrection, especially if the sun is out. So it is worth of your attention!
Built in the early 17th century as St Petersburg's first settlement, the Cathedral of Saint Apostles Peter and Paul is based inside the famous Peter and Paul Fortress along with numerous Russian museums, galleries and spectacular river-side views.
The Cathedral is on the list of the Top St Petersburg Russia attractions because of its stunning varied iconostasis and its location in a general tourist complex, but today the Cathedral is a place of worship open to the public, not a museum.
However, it is an interesting site to visit because it houses the remains of almost all of the Russian Emperors and Empresses from Peter the Great to Nicolas II.
With its marvellous blue cupolas emblazoned with golden stars and a massive column of glory put up in front of the cathedral, the Trinity Cathedral is one of the last examples of the Imperial Russian style in Saint Petersburg.
Although in need of some serious reconstruction due to the interiors which were damaged under the Soviet era, this amazing cathedral still manages to impress because of its vastness and big blue domes which overlook the nearby Fontanka River.
Today it is a place of worship open to the public which can hold up to 3000 people simultaneously. If you are a couple of blocks away from Fontanka River, you should give it a try.
The Transfiguration Cathedral is an Eastern Orthodox cathedral belonging to the Diocese of St Petersburg. Constructed in 1829 as a church of the Transfiguration regiment, this beautiful and architectural religious building has never been damaged or closed for worship since its founding.
With a beautiful square outside the cathedral, impressive Turkish cannons and an original British-made clock still in operation, nowadays this great architectural complex is one of the most visited Russian cathedrals in the city.
Definitely worth a look if you are touring around Preobrazhenskaya Square, just off Liteiny Prospekt. The service is also very interesting, especially during the Russian Easter.
Impressive from the outside and beautiful from the inside, the Naval Cathedral of St Nicholas is another example of Baroque style architecture in the Northern Capital of Russia and one of the few churches in St Petersburg that was not closed during the Soviet era.
Inside the cathedral you can find several monuments and images dedicated to the Russian navy along with a unique assemblage of wonderful 18th century icons. Open to the public and beloved by locals for its baroque spires and stunning gold domes, this Russian Orthodox church could be a good addition to your must-do list, although it is not a museum.
Standing on the eastern part of Petrograd side, just across the Malaya Neva from the famous Spit of Vasilevsky Island, the Prince Vladimir Cathedral is another old Russian Orthodox church with a shining eye-catching white facade.
Designed by Antonio Rinaldi, architect of the Marble Palace and the Gatchina Palace, the cathedral has five cupolas and a three-storey bell tower.
Perfectly preserved since its founding in 1765, the icons on the second floor are worth seeing and the interiors are really breathtaking. If you plan a visit to this attractive Russian church you won't be disappointed.
Erected in 1764 on the place of a wooden church on the corner of Bolshoy Prospekt on Vasilievsky Island, the construction of St. Andrew Cathedral took fifteen years.
Named after the Apostle Andrew, whom
Peter the Great considered his personal protector, this beautiful, late
baroque, pink-and-white cathedral is a peaceful place with decorative iconostasis.
Today, the cathedral is a functioning place of worship and the
interiors were only slightly damaged under the Soviet era. Fully restored, this charming Russian
church is worth a look, especially if you walk along the nice pedestrian
street on the Vasilievsky Island.
The Trinity Cathedral is the largest building inside of one of the biggest architectural areas of Saint Petersburg – the Alexander Nevsky Monastery (Lavra). Founded by Peter the Great in 1710, this orthodox monastery is the most important in Saint Petersburg.
While the Trinity Cathedral based inside is
a somewhat heavy, but striking domed-cross structure with two
bell-towers, famous for its scenic paintings and interior decoration
made by the Russian sculptor Fedot Shubin.
The cathedral is worth a visit and so
is the cemetery which is the part of the Museum of City Sculpture. Here
you will find the graves of Russia's greatest composers and writers
including Tchaikovsky, Glinka, Dostoevsky and many others. So don't miss it!
The 79.8 meters high Church of the Resurrection, also called as the Savior on the Spilled Blood Church, is one of the most beautiful and memorable churches in St Petersburg. It got its awkward name because it was built on the spot where Alexander II was murdered in 1881.
Inside the church, you will find a decorative interior made of different coloured Italian marble and Russian semi-precious stones.The fragment of the pavement where Alexander II was killed is crowned with a special structure supported by gray and violet jasper columns to remember the terrorist attack.
Renovated and reopened as a museum in 1997, this Moscow-style church with its richly coloured onion domes has become a popular tourist attraction, so it should be on your must-visit list.
Completed in 1783, the Church of Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God is one of the oldest churches in St Petersburg and a fascinating example of a strict classical and baroque architecture style.
Named after Vladimir the Equal-to-Apostles, the church is known for its rich interior paintings and stained glass, but also for its Mother of God of Kazan icon, the image of the "Dormition of the Mother of God" which is a copy of the actual icon - the treasure of "Lavra".
With its impressive yellow facade, an authentic 18th century floor and its painting decorated walls, this Russian church is a really interesting place to see.
Situated in one of the picturesque areas of historic St Petersburg, just a few hundred meters from the Naval Cathedral of St Nicholas, this charming neo-Byzantine church was one of the last churches in St Petersburg to be erected before the Bolshevik Revolution.
Built in 1903 for Estonian orthodox people living in Sankt Petersburg, over the years the Church of St. Isidore became the center of orthodox life in the city. Even if you don't have time to go inside, it is likely that you will pass it at some point during a boat trip or while exploring the Kolomna District so you can have a look then.
Founded in 1710 and standing on the northern side of Nevsky Prospekt, the small Catholic Church of St. Catherine in St Petersburg is one of the oldest Catholic churches in Russia.
Like many churches in St Petersburg, this simple religious building is a reflection of the past years of Russian history, the great, the stormy, the desperate, and the re-emergence of Roman Catholicism in Russia after decades of repression.
So when passing along Nevsky Prospekt, don't judge this Russian church by its looks, but take a visit if you have time, you won't regret it!
Situated in the far south of the city, the
Chesme Church was built under Catherine the Great as the house church
for the Chesme Palace, a resting post between St Petersburg and the illustrious Summer Palace in Tsarskoe Selo.
Also known as the Church of the Nativity of John the Baptist, this orthodox church is considered by some locals as one of the most impressive churches in St Petersburg as well as a rare example of the very early Gothic revival influence in Russian architecture.
Although a little off the beaten
track it is well worth a visit if you are
travelling to Tsarskoe Selo or Pavlovsk by marshrutka.
Built during the reign of Peter the Great to celebrate two major naval victories over the Swedes, which both fell on the feast-day of St. Panteleimon, this small charming red-and-white Church of St. Panteleimon is considered one the oldest churches in St Petersburg Russia.
After being restored in 1990, it is now a museum and a place of worship open to the public.
If you are in the heart of historic St Petersburg, close
to the Summer Garden and the St. Michael Castle, then it might be worth
popping inside for a few minutes to have a look.
Not far from the Kamennoostrovskiy Palace,
an old former imperial palace on the south-western promenade of
Kamenny Island, you will find a beautiful park and the tiny unusual red-brick Church of the Nativity of John the Baptist.
Created by the architects Yuri Velten and Giacomo
Quarenghi, this is one of the few well preserved Gothic churches in St Petersburg which have not been destroyed during the War. That is one reason to plan a visit, although the islands itself should be the main reason to go because it is a nice
and popular area in the city, but better in the summer.
Situated in the north-west of St
Petersburg inside the picturesque student campus of the city's
prestigious Polytechnical University, which is itself a masterpiece of
Russian Neoclassicism, the Church of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin is one of the smallest churches in St Petersburg.
Today, this fascinating orthodox church is still being restored by volunteers from the staff and student bodies of the University. However, it is fully functioning and open to the public. Walls of the church are beautifully painted and the place is very cosy, so it is really worth a look if you have time.
Standing on the northern side of Nevsky Prospekt opposite Gostiny Dvor you can find the charming Armenian Church of St Catherine. Although it is not one of the most popular churches in St Petersburg for visitors, its central location makes it an easy visit.
Designed by the Russian architect of German origin Yury Velten, this orthodox church has a modest 180 metre-long arcade covered by a beautiful pitched glass roof and well decorated interiors. If you are touring around that area, stop by and have a look inside. It will only take a few minutes, unless you want to attend the longer service, which is an interesting one.
Written by Davide C.