There is something both magical and majestic about St Petersburg’s orthodox churches. In winter, the churches’ colourful onion domes glisten amongst the snow, while in summer the bright sunshine catches the domes, making them stand out across the cityscape.
Under nearly a century of communism, churches were looked down on and worship frowned upon. Today, religion is on the rise in Russia, and the Russian Orthodox Church sits at the heart of it, with the beautiful orthodox churches venerated once again.
Stepping outside the doors of Hotel Astoria will bring you face-to-face with one of the city’s most well-known churches, St Isaac’s Cathedral whose grand neo-classical architecture and shining golden dome make it a very recognisable landmark. The sumptuously decorated interior is filled with gold leaf, mosaics and paintings.
One of St Petersburg’s most beautiful buildings, Smolny Cathedral’s elegant pastel blue and white exterior was designed by Italian architect Rastrelli in the Baroque style. Finished in 1761, and then abandoned after the revolution, it was only following the end of communism that the building was reopened as a museum and concert hall.
Less well known, but equally as elegant, is the Chesme, the Church of the Birth of John the Baptist, which has a pastel pink fairy tale quality. The neo-Gothic architecture of Yury Felton replaced the traditional rounded onion domes with spiky towers, and opened in 1780 to commemorate a great naval victory over the Turks. Today, the church, in the southern part of the city, is part of the Institute of Aviation Technology.
Styled in blue and white with gleaming golden domes is the naval church of St Nicholas’. Built in 1760 it was consecrated by the Empress Elizabeth and overlooks the shimmering waters of the Kryukov Canal. Inside, the elaborate gold, black and white interior is one of the finest examples of Baroque architecture in St Petersburg. One of the few churches or cathedrals not closed under communism, it is still beautifully preserved today.
These are just a few examples of the stunningly rich architecture of the Russian Orthodox Church. Take time to explore these and many more with a stay at the Hotel Astoria, in the heart of St Petersburg.