SS Peter and Paul Cathedral | Attraction Guides | History Hit

SS Peter and Paul Cathedral

okrug Kronverkskoe, Saint Petersburg, Russia

Sarah Roller

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Godot13 / CC

About SS Peter and Paul Cathedral

The Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia was built by Peter the Great in the eighteenth century.

History of SS Peter and Paul Cathedral

Consecrated on 29 June 1733, SS Peter and Paul Cathedral is dedicated to saints Peter and Paul, the former being the city’s patron saint. The cathedral is the oldest landmark in St Petersburg, commissioned by Peter the Great and designed by the Swiss architect Domenico Trezzini

With its thin, soaring spire and baroque style, Peter and Paul Cathedral was the tallest building in St. Petersburg at the time it was built and also probably its most dramatic, most other churches in Russia bearing a very different architectural style. The spire is topped with an angel – a symbol that frequently features in the iconography of St Petersburg.

Peter and Paul Cathedral is located in the Peter and Paul Fortress which was built by Peter the Great. One of the most significant elements of Peter and Paul Cathedral is that fact that almost every Russian leader from Peter the Great to Nicholas II are buried there, the notable exceptions being Peter II and Ivan VI. The last tsar, Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra  and three of their children were finally laid to rest here in 1998, following the discovery and positive identification of their remains in a forest around Yekaterinburg.

The carillon (a pitched percussion instrument with at least 23 bells) in the cathedral has an interesting history: Peter I first heard a carillon on a visit to the Netherland in 1698, and decided he wanted one for his new cathedral, and in 1720, ordered one from the Netherlands. Only one bellfounder was capable of making these at the time: his carillon was destroyed in a fire in 1756. A second carillon was ordered, but the bellfounder died before it could be fully completed – a clockmaker finished and installed them instead, with somewhat unideal consequences. Eventually, in 2001, new bells were made and gifted to Russia by the Government of Flanders.

SS Peter and Paul Cathedral today

The cathedral is part of the wider Peter and Paul Fortress complex; you’ll need to buy a ticket to the whole site to enter the cathedral. which is open Monday-Tuesday and Thursday-Saturday. In the summer months, it is also possible to climb the narrow bell-tower for excellent views of the city.

It’s worth spending some time exploring the cathedral fully – try and spot the tombs of previous rulers.

Getting to SS Peter and Paul Cathedral

The cathedral is across the River Neva from the main body of the city: the nearest metro stop is Gor’kovskaya (line 2) although it’s only a 2km walk from the Hermitage. Tram routes 6 and 40 also stop close by.

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