Peter and Paul Cathedral

Tomb of Russian tsars

The elegant golden silhouette of Peter and Paul Cathedral is a symbol of St Petersburg that is easy to recognize. Lots of city legends and historical facts are linked to this place. The Cathedral occupies the main place in the whole ensemble of Peter and Paul Fortress. It’s actually the most beautiful building there.

The cathedral was never a place for engagements or epiphany, and only the funeral service for the Imperial family members and the fortress commandants took place there. All were first buried in the Cathedral and later in the special Grand Ducal Burial Vault.

History of the Cathedral

The Peter and Paul Cathedral as we know it know stays on the place of the former wooden church, built under the order of Peter the Great on the Hare Island in 1703. The stone walls around it started to appear 10 years after in accordance with the project by Domenico Trezzini. A piece of relics of Andrew the Apostle were laid in the foundation. The outside construction works finished in 8 years.

A rare carillon was purchased from Holland for the chimes. After the settlement of the spire of 40 meters high, Peter and Paul Cathedral was the tallest building in the city for almost 300 years.

The Peter and Paul Cathedral was sanctified on June 28, 1733. It had been built for 19 years (1712-1733) with the attentive participation of Peter the Great, Catherine I, Peter II and Anna Ioanovna.

After the events of 1917 lots of values were moved to Moscow, where most of them got lost. Some historical artifacts are preserved in the Hermitage and other museums of the city. In 1924 the Cathedral also became a museum which helped to save its artistic value.

Architecture and interior

From the outside the building slightly remind the orthodox cathedral. Its rectangular walls are only adorned with rigorous pilasters and bas-reliefs about the windows. Main attention is drawn to the baroque facade that smoothly turns into a high bell tower with a golden spire. There on top an angel-shaped with a christ of 3,2 meters high and 3,8 meter wingspan is placed.

There is a story that once lightning stroke the main adornment of the Cathedral. Only roofer Petr Telushkin managed to the get on top of the Cathedral and fix the problem. Peter the Great rewarded the roofer with a lifelong right for free alcohol drinking in every tavern of Russian Empire. The further life of the roofer is not known.

Actually in 1756 the Cathedral got on fire cause of the lightning, and the spire and the chimes suffered the most. In 1757-1758 the wooden constructions of the spire were replaced by the metal ones, prepared by architect D. Zhuravsky. The clock was placed only 20 years, and every hour it played a melody of the national anthem.

The dominant of the inside interior is a gorgeous carved iconostasis with standing figures at front –  Peter, Paul and 4 evangelists. The iconostasis was created by architect Zarudny and painters T. Ivanov and I. Telega. It partly reminds a Triumphal Arch, since the Emperor planned the Cathedral to be as a monument to the victories of Russian army. The keys from the captured cities, Swedish and Turkish banners were kept. Nowadays most of them can be found in the Hermitage, while there are only copies in the Cathedral. The visitors of the Cathedral can climb the bell tower and watch the panorama view.

The Peter and Paul Cathedral served as a burial place of Imperial family members. Peter the Great is buried there. There in summer 1998 in the 80th anniversary of the execution of Nicolas II, his wife Alexandra Feyodorovna, their children and servants, their remains were buried in the Catherine’s aisle of the Cathedral.

By the beginning of the 19th century, there was no place left in the Cathedral, so the special Grand Ducal Burial Vault was built. It’s connected with the Cathedral by a passage. The last burial ceremony took place in 2006, the remains of the last Russian Tsar’s mother Maria Feyodorovna were moved there from Denmark. Since 1990 the memorial service for Russian Emperors has taken place in the Cathedral.

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Information About the Excursion


All year
Monday10.00 - 19.00
Tuesday10.00 - 19.00
Wednesday10.00 - 19.00
Thursday10.00 - 19.00
Friday10.00 - 19.00
Saturday10.00 - 17.45

Public Transport

Peter and Paul Fortress, Sobornaya Square 1
Metro / Subway
Onward (Mytninskaya naberezhnaya), Return (Prospect Dobrolubova)10, 191
Troitskaya Ploshchad'46, 49
Onward (Birshevoy Most), Return (Prospect Dobrolubova)7
Troitskaya Ploshchad'3, 6, 40
Prospect Dobrolubova6, 40
Minibuses (marshrutka)
Onward (Prospect Dobrolubova), Return (Mytninskaya naberexhnaya)K-252
Troitstkaya ploshchad'K-76, K-30


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