Saint Sampson's Cathedral in St. Petersburg is one of the few architectural monuments of the first half of the XVIII century that have survived to this day
The church in the name of St. Sampson was laid by Peter I to honour a military victory. Such a tradition could already be seen during the laying and consecration of the church in the name of great martyr, Saint Pantaleon. Exactly on the day in his memory on July 27 (Julian Calendar), Peter I managed to win two victories in the Great Northern War: the Battle of Gangut on July 27, 1714 and the Battle of Grengam on July 27, 1720.
On the day of commemoration of St. Sampson the Hospitable, June 27, 1709, there also was a significant military victory that decided the outcome of the Great Northern War: Russian troops inflicted a crushing defeat upon the Swedish army in the Battle of Poltava.
In celebration of this, Emperor Peter I ordered the construction of a church near the Vyborg road, which led towards the territories of the Swedish king. At first, it was a small wooden church, consecrated in 1710. The church was rebuilt into a cathedral in 1728-1740. A part of the reconstruction funds was donated by a Yaroslavl merchant I.A. Lapshin, but the funding wasn’t sufficient and the cathedral had to be completed at the state treasury’s expense. The cathedral was completed only under the reign of Empress Anna Ivanovna.
The cathedral and the bell tower were erected in 1740. The cathedral’s architect is P.A. Trezzini, the architect of the bell tower is unknown. The cathedral is a one-storey building on a quarried stone strip foundation made of copestone base plate (rus. Leschad’, a tile or a flagstone, chipped into layers and used as brick for flat floors), with limestone basement and brick walls. The height of the building is 8.2 m (26.9 ft) at the eaves and 35.1 m (115.2 ft) at the dome’s cross. The closely arranged bulbous domes of the cathedral are on a single drum in the centre of the roof. The bell tower is divided into three storeys. The lower storey has two side extensions, thanks to which it is visibly wider than the upper ones. There is an arched opening and driveway in the middle of the lower storey, paved with copestone slabs. The second and third storeys are decorated with the Tuscan order pilasters. In the niche of the second storey, instead of belfries, there are decorative “false windows” on each side. The belfry with a bell of the XVIII century is in the niche of the third storey. Each face of the third storey ends with a triangular pediment. The bell tower ends with an octagonal marquee with false windows, the marquee is crowned with an onion bulb with a cross.
The chapel was built by A.P. Aplaksin in 1909 in the style of the Elizabethan Baroque modeled after F.B. Rastrelli’s works, which makes it noticeably different from the cathedral and the bell tower.
In 1711, a cemetery was built near the Saint Sampson’s Church, where various people of art were buried, works of which largely determined the look of St. Petersburg. Among them were architects D. Trezzini, A. Schlüter, J.-B. Leblon, G. Mattarnovi, sculptor K.B. Rastrelli, painters L. Caravac and S. Torelli. Presently, the cemetery is no longer there and there is Sampsonievsky skver (in Soviet times, the Karl Marx park) in its stead. Only the mass grave of A. Volynsky, A. Khrushchov and I. Eropkin remains, of the people executed in 1740 on charges of conspiracy against Biron. In 1885 at the place of their burial, a monument was erected by order of Empress Catherine II, designed by the sculptor A. Opekushin and architect M. Shurupov.
In 1933, all bells were removed, with the exception of the main one, which was damaged as a result of a shell hit on February 10, 1942. In 1938, the cathedral was closed, after which there was a ready-made dress shop there.
After the war, the cathedral with all its property was transferred to the Library of the Academy of Sciences, and was used as books and stationery storage, and later was transferred to the Wholesale and procurement base of Lengorunivermag (Leningrad City Department Store). Archival documents confirm that the destroyed roof of the cathedral was restored only in 1957.
In 2000, the cathedral was opened, not as a cathedral but rather as a museum. It received the status of a state museum-monument. The Church was allowed to hold services on Saturdays and Sundays, and during the Twelve Great Feasts and Holidays.
After a long break, on May 21, 2002, on the day in memory of the Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian, in whose honour one of the chapels of the cathedral was consecrated, the first Divine Liturgy was served by the rector of the church, Archpriest John Malinin. The director of the Cathedral at that time was Nikolai Viktorovich Nagorsky.
Since 2010, daily services are held at Saint Sampson's Cathedral. In 2017, the cathedral transferred under jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church. The rector of the cathedral is Archimandrite Seraphim (Shkred’).
- Address: St. Petersburg, Bol'shoy Sampsoniyevskiy pr., 41
- Phone Number: +7 (921) 180-46-67;+7 (921) 447-67-30
- Site: sampsony.ru
Monday - Sunday: 08:00 - 19:00
Religious services schedule: Services in the cathedral are performed daily Monday to Friday at 10:00 - Divine Liturgy On Saturday at 10:00 - Divine Liturgy, at 17:00 - the All-Night Vigil On Sunday at 10:00 - Divine Liturgy, at 17:00 - Akathist Evening services on weekdays are performed on the eve of the holidays at 17:00 The Sacraments of Baptism and Wedding also take place in the cathedral