Peter and Paul Cathedral

Peter and Paul Cathedral Peter and Paul Cathedral
The Peter and Paul Cathedral - originally Saint Petersburg Fortress - is one of the historic symbols of the city. Its construction on the small Hare Island marked the beginning of a city that was destined to be capital of the Russian Empire for over two centuries.
Peter the Great's campaign journals give the date of its foundation as 16 May 1703. The grand ceremony on that day included placing a shrine containing relics of the apostle St Andrew beneath the first stone. The first sketched plan, following the natural shape of the island, was made by Peter himself. The final design is attributed to Joseph Gaspard Lambert de Guerin, a French general who had come to Russia in 1701.
In 1705 Peter decided to rebuild the earthworks in masonry, entrusting supervision of the work to the experienced fortifications engineer Domenico Trezzini, an Italian Swiss who had come to Russia in 1703 to do work on Kotlin Island. The rebuilding was begun in 1706 and completed by 1733.
The fortress was built as an impregnable stronghold, but was never put to the test: the very fact of its existence was enough to deter enemies. As early as 1712 work began to construct the grand SS Peter and Paul Cathedral within the fortress.
St Peter Gate
The first St Peter Gate was a wooden triumphal arch erected by Trezzini as early as 1707-08. It was embellished with wooden relief panels carved by the German craftsman Konrad Ossner. When, roughly ten years later, when Trezzini rebuilt the gate in stone, he added to Ossner's works some allegorical statues by Nicolas Pineau, a brilliant French decorative sculptor. Six statues that once adorned the gate have not survived, but what is left is still impressive.
The huge lead armorial eagle placed above the gate in 1772 weighs about 1.5 tonnes. It was cast from a model by Francois Vassou and painted by Alexander Zakharov. The Petrine Baroque
In peter's time Russian art was desperately seeking a new look that would reflect the new attitude and spirit of reform that had gripped Russia. The style that established itself to the accompaniment of Peter's military victories was at first derivative of provincial European schools, but soon developed into a vivid, independent phenomenon that compensated for all its flaws by the scale of what it accomplished. This phase was most notably represented by Domenico Trezzini and Johann Braunstein among a number of other architects who have gone down in history only on account of their works in St Petersburg. After his victory at Poltava in 1709 Peter began to invite to Russia highly distinguished (and expensive) architects from Italy and France. In 1715 contracts were signed witn tne royai architect Jean-Baptiste LeBlond and the venerable sculptor and builder Bartolomeo Carlo Rastrelli (father of Bartolomeo Francesco); in 1718 with Nicolo Michetti, a prominent papal architect and pupil of the celebrated Carlo Fontana. The brilliance that they brought to their own fields drew the other arts after them. In the visual arts, the Petrine style was best and most vividly expressed Dy Aiexei Zubov, whose engravings, full of feeling, remain one of the chief records of the era.
As early as the first quarter of the 18th century, the fortress was mentioned in the Universal Commercial Dictionary (Paris, 1723) as being in no way inferior to Dunkirk, Louis XIV's creation. But, in contrast to most fortresses, this is above all an architectural memorial of its founder, Peter the Great.
Map of Peter and Paul Cathedral The Peter and Paul Fortress Map Peter and Paul The entrance to the Peter and Paul The entrance to the Peter and Paul Bas-relief
Peter the Great
In creating his bronze portrait of Peter the sculptor Mikhail Shemiakin drew upon a well-known historical image - the wax figure of the Tsar made by Rastrelli after his death in 1725. The sculptor donated his bronze Peter I in the early 1990s to the Museum of the History of St Petersburg.
The Mint was moved from Moscow in 1724 and originally housed in the Trubetskoi and Naryshkin bastions. It produced coins and commemorative medals that were usually designed Rastrelli.
The moulds for casting were pro- duced on machin- ery designed by Andrei Nartov in Peter's own turnery.
Ravelins are outworks, standing separate from the main fortress, in the shape of a V with the point towards the outside.
They were erected to protect the most vulnerable points of the stronghold - entrance gates.
Kirstenstein's 1707 plan for the Peter and Paul Fortress envisaged two ravelins, but at that time only one demilune (a similar sort of outwork with a crescent shape) was constructed on the east side. The fortess acquired its ravelins in 1731-40 through the efforts of Count von Munnich. They were named Alexeyevsky (west) and Ioannovsky (west) after the grandfather and father of Empress Anna Ioannovna.
The bastion system devised in the 17th century was the culmination of the art of fortification: gun-slots in the bastions, out of reach of enemy artillery, made it possible to pour down heavy fire on attackers, rendering such fortresses practically impregnable. The Peter and Paul Fortress has six bastions with walls up to six metres thick. The extensive casemates within were already used as a prison in Peter's day.
The building to house the boat in which Peter I learned to sail and that he had had brought to the fortress in 1723 was erected by the architect Alexander Wist in 1765. The original boat is now in the Central Naval Museum, while an exact copy stands in the Boathouse.
Noonday guns
The first cannon fired to mark midday appeared on the fortress walls only in 1873. Previously (from 1736) on the initiative of the French astronomer Joseph-Nicolas De l'Isle, a gun had been fired from the Admiralty on a signal from the observatory in the Kunstkammer.
Naryshkin Bastion
The fortress's southern bastion was named in honour of Kirill Naryshkin who was among the six officials responsible for the construction of the bastions. In 1733, on the orders of Anna Ioannovna, the flagstaff tower was erected on the Naryshkin Bastion to fly the imperial standard (on special occasions) or the fortress's own flag. In Peter's time the fortress flag was hung on the south-eastern Sovereign's Bastion.
The narrow channel separating the Peter and Paul Fortress from Birch Island to the north was a poor defence and so the Crownwork (or Kronwerk) - an additional fortification in the shape of a crown was begun on the opposite bank in 1705. A water-filled moat was dug out around its outer perimeter.
The structures erected in the 1730s and known by the French name batardeau once served to maintain the required water level in the two moats between the fortress and its ravelins. The batardeaux were fitted with sluice gates to discharge water into the Neva. Little turrets were added to protect these gates. Later the moats were filled in for convenience, the sluices filled in with granite, and the batardeaux became one of the characteristic sights of the fortress.
St John Bridge
Until the mid-19th century this bridge was the only link between the fortress and the city. It got its name in the 1730s, when the Ioannovsky or St John Ravelin was constructed east of the fortress. The bridge has been repeatedly reconstructed.
The SS Peter and Paul Cathedral
The SS Peter and Paul Cathedral was begun in 1712 to the design of Domenico Trezzini, who employed forms characteristic of church architecture in the Alps and northern Europe. The plan (a three-aisled basilica), the interior finishing and even its consecration to the two apostles Peter and Paul derive from Western Christian tradition. Construction was slow and by Peter I's death in 1725 only the walls and bell-tower were standing - all masonry, apart from a wooden spire covered with copper and gilded (Aubry de la Motraye, 1726). Later the cathedral, like many other Petersburg buildings, suffered fires and was repeatedly reconstructed.
In 1719 a gilded copper cross was fixed upon the cathedral spire, with, attached to it, a copper figure of a flying angel that turned on an axis. The figure was replaced during reconstructions in the 1770s, 1780s (design by Rinaldi) and 1850s. Today the entire structure is some six metres high and weighs about half a tonne.
Trezzini's design for the cathedral included a distinctive tiered bell-tower topped by a tall spire (total height around 106 metres). Chimes were installed in the bell-tower, but they were melted in the fire caused by a lightning strike in 1756. The spire was reconstructed after the fire, but some of the exterior decoration of the building was not. New chimes, made by the Dutch craftsman Oortkrass were installed in the tower. In 1857-58 the engineer Dmitry Zhuravsky replaced the wooden structures of the spire, which was by then leaning over, with metal elements forming a 50-metre-tall framework. After this reconstruction the height of the bell-tower exceeded 120 metres.
The open-work iconostasis was created in Moscow in the 1720s, then brought to St Petersburg, installed and gilded. The design is attributed to both Ivan Zarudny and Domenico Trezzini, although they may have collaborated. This is probably the only iconostasis allowing a view of the altar in a Russian Orthodox church, It is a typically Baroque piece of work - sumptuously rich in decorative elements.
The icons in the iconostasis
These icons were painted by Andrei Merkulyev and his assistants, who were brought especially for the purpose from Moscow, a mid-18th-century document tells us. The icons were painted traditionally on wood using powdered gold and expensive minerals in an egg tempera medium. This accounts for the bright richness of the paints, linking these icons to the art of old Russia. Most of the compositions, however, were taken from Western European prototypes.
The interior was finished mainly by artists from the Armoury Chamber in Moscow. All the stucco and sculptural work was done by European craftsmen invited to Russia (sculpture was not common in Russia before Peter).
The 18 paintings above the windows (by Matveyev, Gsell and others), like those on the vaults, have Holy Week as their theme. The growing drama of the Passion makes the Resurrection (the chief theme of the iconostasis) all the more triumphant.
The inscription above the main image of the iconostasis reads "Thus did Christ suffer and enter into His glory". One of the piers of the church supports a gilded pulpit made in 1732 by N. Kraskop.
At that same time a special dais was made for Empress Anna loannovna to Trezzini's design.
The Imperial Sepulchre
The SS Peter and Paul Cathedral became a burial place almost immediately, taking over from the Archangel Cathedral in Moscow.
The first interments were of Peter I's children who died in infancy. In 1725 Peter himself was laid to rest here and its status as imperial sepulchre was :onfirmed. In the 1860s Alexander II had all the existing tombs replaced by identical sarcophagi of white Carrara marble embellished only by gilded crosses and double-headed eagles. The wo tombs that differ made of jasper and 'hodonite) were set up in 1906 to mark the graves of Alexander II himself and his wife.
A fairly modest tomb n the St Catherine Chapel marks the cathedral's latest grave -of Nicholas II, his wife, children and servants. They were interred here in 1998, 80 years after the family were shot in Yekaterinburg.
The Grand-Ducal Sepulchre
Was built in 1896-1908 to the design of David Grimm and Leonty Benois.
The massive building, in the Louis XIII style, was intended for the burial of minor members of the House of Romanov. After the revolution all the burials were removed from the chapel and the building was use as a museum store and display hall. It is still adjoined by a fascinating exhibition from the Mint, illustrating the history of coin-making in the 18th and 19th centuries.