Religions of Saint Petersburg

The route will guide you through a rich variety of religious life of St.Petersburg

Saint Petesburg has always been a home for many confessions which temples, churches and cathidral you can observe in the centre and various regions of the city

  • temples and cathedrals 8 ,
  • museums 1
17 km, 9 m
Grand Choral Synagogue

Grand Choral Synagogue

St. Petersburg, Lermontovskiy prospect, 2

The unique acoustics of the Great Choral Synagogue is known worldwide

The centre of public and religious life of Jews in Saint Petersburg (around 100 thousand people), one of the city's oldest communities. The Grand Choral Synagogue is an architectural monument of federal significance; it is designed in the eastern, Moresque style. The building project was developed by the architects L. Bachmann and I. Shaposhnikov, also involving V. Stasov and N. Benois. The construction was completed in 1893. The St. Petersburg Synagogue is the second largest in Europe and the largest in Russia. The complex of the Grand Choral Synagogue includes The Great Synagogue, The Small Synagogue, mikvah (the ritual baths building, essential in Judaism) and The Synagogue of the Georgian Jews.

The unique acoustics of the Great Choral Synagogue is known worldwide. You can conduct an experiment: try standing facing the wall at one end of the hall, then ask your friends to stay at the opposite side and whisper something quietly. Despite the impressive distance (10 meters), you will hear all the words perfectly. What is surprising - the voice is magnified in the center of the hall.

Saint Isaac's Cathedral

Saint Isaac's Cathedral

Saint Petersburg, Isaakiyevskaya ploshchad, 4

The largest Russian Orthodox cathedral in the city

Saint Isaac's Cathedral or Isaakievskiy Sobor in Saint Petersburg is the largest orthodox chuch and the fourth largest cathedral in the world. It is dedicated to Saint Isaac of Dalmatia, a patron saint of Peter the Great, who had been born on the feast day of that saint.

The church on St Isaac's Square was ordered by Tsar Alexander I, to replace an earlier Rinaldiesque structure, and was the fourth consecutive church standing at this place.

The neoclassical exterior expresses the traditional Russian-Byzantine formula of a Greek-cross ground plan with a large central dome and four subsidiary domes. It is similar to Andrea Palladio's Villa La Rotonda, with a full dome on a high drum substituted for the Villa's low central saucer dome. The design of the cathedral in general and the dome in particular later influenced the design of the Lutheran Cathedral in Helsinki.

The exterior is faced with gray and pink stone, and features a total of 112 red granite columns with Corinthian capitals, each hewn and erected as a single block: 48 at ground level, 24 on the rotunda of the uppermost dome, 8 on each of four side domes, and 2 framing each of four windows. The rotunda is encircled by a walkway accessible to tourists. 24 statues stand on the roof, and another 24 on top of the rotunda.

The cathedral's main dome rises 101.5 metres (333 ft) and is plated with pure gold. The dome is decorated with twelve statues of angels by Josef Hermann. These angels were likely the first large sculptures produced by the then novel process of electrotyping, which was an alternative to traditional bronze casting of sculptures. Montferrand's design of the dome is based on a supporting cast iron structure. It was the third historical instance of cast iron cupola after the Leaning Tower of Nevyansk (1732) and Mainz Cathedral (1826).

1 km, 884 m
The Lutheran Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul

The Lutheran Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul

St. Petersburg, Nevsky Prospect, 22-24

Today it is one of the oldest and largest Lutheran churches in Russia

The Cathedral was constructed in 1833—1838 by Alexander Brullov. The interior of the church was substantially rebuilt, but its appearance has remained virtually unchanged. In front of the church there are the statues of the Apostles Peter and Paul on high pedestals. Today it is one of the oldest and largest Lutheran churches in Russia. In 1938, after the nationalization, the church building was used as a warehouse for theatrical scenery, and as a swimming pool. In 1994 the church was returned to the believers.

Such famous people as K. Rossi, M. Mussorgsky, one of the most prominent Russian geologists G. Gelmersen, the geographer V. Yuncker, architects K. Ton, L. Benoit, M. Messmacher, A. Pel, the teacher P. Lesgaft, the founder of Pediatrics K. Rauhfus, historians G. Forster, A. Mikhailovsky-Danilevsky and many others studied in Peterschule (the school at the church).

1 km, 224 m
Kazan Cathedral

Kazan Cathedral

St. Petersburg, Nevsky pr., 25

Being built in the Empire style, it is one of the largest temples of Saint Petersburg. It is dedicated to Our Lady of Kazan, probably the most venerated icon in Russia

The cathedral was constructed in Nevsky Prospekt from 1801 till 1811 by architect A.N. Voronikhin by order of Emperor Paul I who wanted the cathedral to resemble St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican. Before it on the place of the cathedral a church was built in 1733-1737 by the architect M.G. Zemtsov.

After the Patriotic War in 1812 it obtained military glory monument status. The famous Russian Field Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov, who won the most important campaign of 1812, was buried inside the Kazan Cathedral. It had housed the Museum of the History of Religion since 1932 till 1991 and has been a functioning temple since 1991. Since 2000 it has been the cathedral church of the Saint Petersburg Eparchy of the Russian Orthodox Church. Kazanskaya ulitsa, Kazansky Island in the delta of the Neva river and Kazansky Bridge at the intersection of Nevsky Prospekt and the Griboyedov Kanal were named after the Kazan Cathedral. Kazan Cathedral is remarkable for its plan. Half-round colonnade decorates the side façade of the cathedral, not the main one. According to church canons the altar was to face eastwards, the main entrance - westwards.

On the 2nd of July the icon of Our Lady of Kazan was brought here. This relic which had previously belonged to tsaritsa Praskovia Fyodorovna was brought to Saint Petersburg as early as in 1708. Before being brought to a new church in this place in 1737 it had been kept first in the wooden chapel on Posadskaya ulitsa and then in the Trinity Cathedral on the Trinity Square. The consecration of the temple took place on the 13th of the June (according to historian P. Kann) or on the 3rd of July 1737. The second variant seems to be more logical if we consider the date of bringing the icon of Our Lady of Kazan here. There was Anna Ioannovna present at the ceremony of the consecration. In the vernacular this church was called Kananskaya, after the icon the had been kept here. During Elizabeth Petrovna’s reign the church obtained cathedral status and official name “Kazansky Temple”. In the second half of XVIII – the early XIX centuries it was the principal cathedral of Saint Petersburg. In 1739 princess Anna Leopoldovna and prince Anton Urlich and in 1745 the future Emperor and Empress Peter III and Catherine II got married here. In 1762 after the coup d'état Catherine took the guard oath. Kazanskaya church was also the place of the future Emperor Paul I and princess of Hesse-Kassel wedding in 1773.

136 m
Catholic Church of St. Catherine

Catholic Church of St. Catherine

St. Petersburg, Nevsky pr., 32-34

The only Minor basilica in Russia

The Catholic parish of St. Catherine of Alexandria was founded in 1716. In 1738, Empress Anna Ioannovna granted permission for the construction of a Catholic Church on Nevsky Prospekt, but the process was faced with great difficulties. The initial project was developed by Pietro Antonio Trezzini, but the work that began under his leadership was discontinued in 1751 after the architect's departure to his homeland. An attempt to complete the construction in the 1760s, made by the architect J. B. Vallin de la Mothe, was also unsuccessful. All this time, the collegium worked in a temporary church, organized in a neighboring house (nowadays - house №34 on Nevsky Prospect). Only in 1782, the construction of the temple was completed under the leadership of the Italian architects Minciani and A. Rinaldi; the latter was also the head of the church collegium. On October 7, 1783, the church, which received the status of a cathedral, was consecrated in honor of St. Catherine of Alexandria, the patron saint of Empress Catherine II.

Church of St. Catherine is associated with the names of many prominent people. In 1798, the last king of Poland, Stanislav Augustus Poniatowski, was buried here (subsequently reburied in Poland), as was, in 1813, the French general Jean Victor Moreau. The parishioner of the church was the famous architect Montferrand, the author of the St. Isaac's Cathedral. He got married in this church and later baptized his son here. After his death, a funeral service for him was performed here, after which his widow took the coffin with her husband’s body to France.

Among the parishioners of the temple were a number of Russian nobles who converted to Catholicism: Princess Z.A. Volkonskaya, Decembrist M.S. Lunin, Prince I.S. Gagarin and others.

In February 1984, due to arson, a severe fire broke out in the building, which brought the work of the instaurators to nought and destroyed the whole interior of the church. All the sculpture, murals, marble altars and the 12-meter pipe organ of the late 18th century perished in the fire. After that, the burnt temple remained closed and the windows were boarded up. The offices of the Museum of Atheism as well as private apartments were arranged in the monastery building.

The regular work of the Catholic Church in Russia resumed in the early 1990s. The newly formed parish of St. Catherine was registered in 1991 and in February 1992, the city authorities decided to return the building to the church. Nowadays, the parish has about a thousand parishioners.

In 2013, the church was granted the status of a Minor basilica, making it the only basilica in Russia.

233 m
St. Catherine's Church

St. Catherine's Church

St. Petersburg, Nevsky pr., 40-42

The church has become a centre of armenian culture life

An architectural monument of early Classicism. It was built in 1771-1776 (architect Y. M. Felten) on land allotted in 1770 by merchant I. L. Lazarev (Lazaryan) and consecrated on 18 February 1780. The large internal capacity of the building is attained by an exquisitely light drum crowned with a cupola. The southern facade facing Nevsky Prospect is decorated with an Ionic portico and fretwork. In 1908-09, the building was restored (the architect A. I. Tamanyan). In 1930, the church was closed, inner paintings and the iconostasis with images by artist K. L. Christinek were lost, the internal size of the building was reduced by the addition of new floors to house decorators’ workshops. In 1993, the church was given back to the Armenian community. It was consecrated after the repairs on 12 July 2000.

325 m
Peter and Paul Cathedral

Peter and Paul Cathedral

St. Petersburg, Petropavlovskaya fortress

Peter and Paul Cathedral is the oldest church in St. Petersburg

The architectural monument of Petrine Baroque style. Peter and Paul Cathedral is the oldest church in St. Petersburg. Its construction began on  July 12, 1703 on the day of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul in the newly founded fortress. The construction of the Cathedral upon the project and under the guidance of architect D. Trezzini took 20 years - from 1712 to 1732. Until 2012, the Cathedral with its height of 122.5 meters was the tallest building in St. Petersburg.

From the very beginning of the construction of the temple, Peter decided to turn it into a tomb of Russian rulers. The burials in the unfinished church started in the summer of 1708. Here all Russian tsars of the Romanov dynasty, except Peter II and Ivan VI, were buried.

3 km, 735 m
Saint Petersburg Mosque

Saint Petersburg Mosque

St. Petersburg, Kronverskiy prospect, 7

The monument of Islamic religious architecture

The Great Mosque of St. Petersburg is the biggest Mosque in the European part of Russia. The building was constructed in 1909-1920 by the architect Nikolai Vasilyev, also involving the engineer S. Krichinsky and the architect A. von Gauguin. Its construction in 1913 was dedicated to the tercentenary of the Romanov house. However, it took another seven years to finish the work on the interior decoration of the temple. The St. Petersburg Mosque is one of the largest in Europe - it can accommodate up to 5,000 people.

Among people, the first mosque in St. Petersburg was called Tatarian for a very long time, and the area near the temple held the name of Tatarstan. Most likely, this can be explained by the fact that at some point the Tatar community was actively involved in the construction of the mosque.

1 km, 637 m
Datsan Gunzechoinei

Datsan Gunzechoinei

St. Petersburg, Primorskiy prospect, 91

The world's northernmost Buddhist temple 

The world's northernmost Buddhist temple. "Gunzechoinei" in Tibetan means "The Source of the Holy Teaching of All-caring Lord-Hermit." This Buddhist temple was built in St. Petersburg in 1909-1915. The construction was initiated by the Buryat Lama Lobsang Aghvan Dorzhiev, the envoy of  XIII Dalai Lama. Funds for the construction were partly donated by Dorzhiyev and XIII Dalai Lama, and partly gathered among the religious in Buryatia and Kalmykia.

In the datsan one can consult an astrologer and a Tibetan physician - a specialist in traditional Tibetan medicine. In the basement of the temple there is a cafe where you can try the Buryat cuisine.

6 km, 730 m